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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I can't figure out how to teach my dog this properly and it's been kind of frustrating. My dog is 1 year and 3 months old now, and we've been working on heeling practically daily since she was 8-9 weeks old. We do a focused heel with her looking upward, that's the look I want.

So for the past few months, she already has pretty much a perfect heel if I'm holding food OR a ball in my left hand, with my hand raised near my armpit. She does awesome about-turns and will stay in the correct position, can even heel backwards and sideways with me. She also heels just as well if I hold the food/ball behind her head with my hand swinging- slightly less attentive but still does great about-turns and will heel in the correct position the whole time.

But if I put the food or ball in my left OR right pocket and still swing my hand the same way, or if I still hold my hand up near my armpit the same way (but without food/ball actually in it), or if I keep my left hand still next to her face- she'll heel with her butt sticking out at an angle, or sit at a huge angle in front of me when we stop walking, forges 90% of the time, crowds me really hard. She does look up at me, but basically her body positioning is entirely wrong.

She also won't do an about-turn at all, like she forgot hind legs exist- this being the main problem I think, since she won't turn at all. lol

I'm basically training on my own lately and didn't get any instruction on this when I asked a trainer I was with previously except for "it's just a training thing you figure out" LOL. I've been told the transition is just mostly muscle memory from luring, but the muscle memory ain't cutting it lol. I'm clearly missing an entire step, and I don't know what.

I'd love to get some tips?
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Maybe put the ball in your left armpit or get one of those magnetic balls to attach by your armpit and do more left turns? Are you using a leash to correct the dog and move her into proper position?
I'm not sure about doing the ball in armpit method, since that still acts as a visible lure, and eventually I'll need to fade the ball from my armpit and into my pocket/elsewhere again too, and I'll run into the same issue again... I figure..

She does awesome left turns and about turns if I'm holding a ball/food in my left hand, but won't turn whatsoever if the reward is in my pocket. She will just stand there and I turn into her, like she forgot what a turn is.

I haven't tried a prong to correct the positioning yet, but I do have her on a leash.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Have you tried going back to a point where she is successful then building back up to where you were with the lure?
I'm not sure I understand what you mean?
She is basically very successful if I hold the reward in my left hand, I think regardless of whether my hand is up near my armpit or if I swing it behind her head like a normal walk. But once I remove the reward from my left hand, she is apparently very confused about where she should be heeling and also forgets how to turn at all. I feel like there should be some step in between for her and I don't know what that is.
 

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I mean go back to a point where she is successful without a visible reward. How did you start out teaching her to heel? Against a wall? On a perch? I'd go back to square one without a visible reward and build up from there. I bet she'll catch on quick!
 

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Can she get any part of it, however small, right without the lure?

Can she get into heel position without the lure.

Can she take one step without lure?

What about alongside a barrier, can you get one any bit without lure. One step in focus and position and then deliver toy?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I mean go back to a point where she is successful without a visible reward. How did you start out teaching her to heel? Against a wall? On a perch? I'd go back to square one without a visible reward and build up from there. I bet she'll catch on quick!
Oh I see- yes, I taught her both against a wall and on a bowl for the turns. So was having her see a visible lure for so long kind of pointless then, and we could've faded it a long time ago to start from basics?

Can she get any part of it, however small, right without the lure?

Can she get into heel position without the lure.

Can she take one step without lure?

What about alongside a barrier, can you get one any bit without lure. One step in focus and position and then deliver toy?
Her basic position is also often incorrect without the lure (like sitting too far in front or at an angle). So am I basically starting from scratch again?

I'm also just curious if this is what everyone else has to do too, start from the basics again in order to fade the lure, or is it only my dog who isn't getting it like other dogs?
 

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Disclaimer: I'm no expert in teaching competition heel. But I don't think I faded anything all at once. It was more like a little of this, a little of that.

A long straight line with a ball outside his head (in my hand), then we did circles around a ball on the ground with the dog on the inside and release to ball when I got a couple nice steps.

I like to hold the ball behind my back with right hand and throw it over him to his left to reward. A magnet ball would be way better but don't have the spare $$ atm.

Some times I work on finishes and use platforms, to help him get in the right spot without any extra visual cue from my hand and then reward. Do that x5 then once with no platform. Sometimes I use a flat foot target

So I guess I did a lot with help but always at least one little thing with no help after many reps with help to plant the seed, you will do this without seeing that. And gradually the little parts with no help get bigger.
 

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I'm not sure about doing the ball in armpit method, since that still acts as a visible lure, and eventually I'll need to fade the ball from my armpit and into my pocket/elsewhere again too, and I'll run into the same issue again... I figure..

She does awesome left turns and about turns if I'm holding a ball/food in my left hand, but won't turn whatsoever if the reward is in my pocket. She will just stand there and I turn into her, like she forgot what a turn is.

I haven't tried a prong to correct the positioning yet, but I do have her on a leash.
I don't do IPO just dabble with Ob. Your dog is young, maybe she still needs luring? What I did fading the lure was have the dog sit in Fuss, hold the food in my hand, wave my hand behind her head and marked/rewarded after a period of time looking up ignoring my hand, rinse and repeat many times then eventually start walking. Initially I always stop when she looks away, reposition then reward. I always correct with a prong or stop/reposition when she loses position. You said your dog forges, left turns and helping into position with leash pressure helps reduce forging, so does touch pad left turning.
 

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I did have one person at a seminar tell me I was training offleash too much & needed to have a leash on him for position feedback. Probably like what Ausdland is saying except I realy don't use corrections in heeling or ob with my dog.

I am sure too much offleash is part of the stuff I am still trying to clean up on my dog, don't know if that applies to you
 

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One more thought. Did you go to ball/tug too soon? Some dogs think better with food and the figuring out the details of position I find sometimes better with food than toy.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
One more thought. Did you go to ball/tug too soon? Some dogs think better with food and the figuring out the details of position I find sometimes better with food than toy.
She will also heel very well if I hold a ball in my left hand, whether as a lure or if I swing my hand behind her head for walking.
It just goes bad when my left hand is empty.
 

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I'll start this off by saying I'm no expert, but this is how I've been going about it as it's something that I have been working on with my girl. She's relatively low on the drive of things for a sport dog, so figuring out how to make drive or help her learn the correct positioning has been hard in obedience. What I've found is that allowing her to make it click in her own head is what works best - and it often means starting from square one.

What I did is re-introduce the clicker to heeling. To re-teach the understanding of the position, I lured her in and then rewarded for the correct position a handful of times. After doing that, I let her figure it out herself and self-correct. So I would get her to sit, move slightly ahead of her, then ask her to fuss. If she was in the wrong position, I simply said, "no", and didn't reward. The "no" has been a staple of our communication training, so if you don't have a "try again" word, you may struggle with this approach. Then I would very rarely, but lightly nag her until she corrected. If she did, and was in the right position, I would click and do a big show of praise and reward. Then we would repeat that a handful of times.

After that, we re-worked on focus in position. The expectation was that she would always watch my face and never my lure hand. I would reward once in position, then move my lure hand around slowly. If she followed it, I nagged her lightly or told her "no". If she held focus, then it was click and reward. Then obviously you increase duration and speed of hand movement.

At the moment, our position and focus is good at the beginning of the heel. Currently we're working on focus during movement, and I can confidently say I can hold her focus during movement far better than I ever have been able to in the past. It's just a matter of correct positioning once we come to a halt, which we'll work on after our focus during movement is near perfect.

This is all in a low to no stimulation environment. After we've pieced everything together in this kind of environment, then I'll re-introduce each part in a more busy setting.
 

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How is your dog's drive for the ball? One thing you can try is to use a long line tied around a tree or pole that you have flat area you can heel around in. Tie your dog out on a flat collar and show him the ball with you standing a few feet in front of him while he is at the end of the line. Ideally, he will come into drive without a lot or any teasing up with the ball. The frustration of seeing the ball and not being able to get at it should build drive. As soon as you see him come into drive, tuck the ball under your left armpit and step into him. You can either start with him in the static heel position and then go into the moving heel or go directly into the moving heel, walking in an arc around the tree/pole. If you get two to three steps of focused heeling, simply raise your left arm out to the side and let the ball drop so he can catch it. If he hasn't learned to catch the ball, this is something you can work on in the static heel position. After you drop the ball, grab the string and play a little tug, out him and step back out of reach and repeat, gradually increasing the amount of steps you take during the focused heel. While playing tug, make sure your dog gets to the point that you can't pull the ball out of his mouth. He should become very possessive and grip the ball firmly so that you can't pull it out of his mouth. This might require some training as well.
Here is an example of using the flex pole. I would tuck the ball under my left arm instead of the way the handler is using it in the video. You might have to start like he is and then transition to the ball being under the arm.
 

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I’d start back with no movement, in basic position. Keep the ball hidden in your left armpit, but under your clothing, so she can’t see it. Use some encouragement, either verbal or with some help from your empty hand to show her where you want her to look, and mark that position and reward her for correct attention without movement in basic position for a few sessions. Once she can reliably find basic position without encouragement, begin adding movement again. I sometimes will use leash pops on a collar to encourage the head up when adding beginning movement. Remember to reward very quickly in the beginning. Don’t ask for duration or turns when you’re just introducing heeling without a lure.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I’d start back with no movement, in basic position. Keep the ball hidden in your left armpit, but under your clothing, so she can’t see it. Use some encouragement, either verbal or with some help from your empty hand to show her where you want her to look, and mark that position and reward her for correct attention without movement in basic position for a few sessions. Once she can reliably find basic position without encouragement, begin adding movement again. I sometimes will use leash pops on a collar to encourage the head up when adding beginning movement. Remember to reward very quickly in the beginning. Don’t ask for duration or turns when you’re just introducing heeling without a lure.
Thanks Alexis- I'm curious should I have started this months ago once she already showed consistency with heeling/turning with a visible lure?
 
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