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I'm teaching the "heel", have a question...

1123 Views 5 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Mr. Nixie
I started working with Kodee tonight on the "heel" command, off-leash (in the house
). I just want to make sure I have him in the right position. Right now, what we're doing is I say "heel" and take one exaggerated step forward with my left leg (he's on my left side), luring him with a treat in my left hand. I am marking/rewarding when moves with me, with his shoulder about even w/my left leg.

I then release him with "ok" when I'm done.

Does this sound ok, as far as his position relative to mine? (Shoulder even w/my leg)? Just wanted to make sure...

Also, I've heard people talk about the "finish", and I've seen videos online (don't even remember where), that are so impressive to watch. Where can I learn how to teach this (I'm not competing, but the more we work together on things, the more fun for us!)
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Shoulder even with leg sounds about right to me. I did a lot of work with food initially teaching the dog to target my leg with their shoulder while he looks up at me. It doesn't really look much like heeling because we're not moving much (one or two steps forward, quarter turns to the right, etc.) and I do that in the family room.

As far as the finish. Basically it's just how your dog gets into the heel position from the front sit. There's a couple different ways to teach it/do it. The older more standard way is to just move around the back. (From the front sit, the dog moves to your right around your back to come in on the left.) This can be easier to teach, and easier for the dog (especially bigger longer shepherds). It usually doesn't look as cool though as the "flip" finish. Which I'm not really sure how to teach...since I've never done it before! It has alot in common with the IPO left turn...which was discussed here...
The heel thing sounds fine. There's different types/positions of "heel" depending on what venue of competition, but for an average formal heel, shoulder to shoulder sounds good, mark and reward whenever he's in that position.

For the finishes, I started with the right finish which is around the back. I lured it with a treat in each hand. I don't like luring, but it worked and she learned it very fast. Now I can either say "finish!", sweep my hand to the right, or simply nudge my shoulder slightly right and back and she will do it.

The left finish I also taught with a lure and first taught it as the dog moves forward (toward me), turns around, and sits. When I first started, I took a step back to get the dog moving and then a step forward to lure the correct sit position. I always wanted one of those flashy left finishes where the dog jumps but never knew how to train it. Well, one day Kenya just started doing it on her own, so now she jumps forward and flips into position. The more we do it, the tighter it's getting and turning more into a left pivot style finish where the dog never really moves forward but flips her rear around and scoots back into a sit. I call the left finish a "swing" and either say "swing!" or sweep my hand out to the left as a command.

Here's an old vid of Kenya practicing indoors, lots of luring and hand targeting going on, which I'm trying to get away from now but it worked for teaching things VERY quickly and is perfectly OK for rally competition.
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I just watched your video on the training and I thought it was great. Tell me what kind of reward are you giving to your dog. I would love for my GSD to be as well behaved.

I use a variety of treats but they are all somewhat moist and cut into TINY bits. I've used jerky strips, Wellness Well Bites, Zuke's Minis, and now I get a Natural Balance food roll. I've also used cooked chicken breast and cooked hotdog (cooked for like 6 minutes so it turns into a jerky). All of these I cut into tiny pieces, or hold a chunk and let her take a nibble. She is really not super food motivated, so the stinkier the treat, the better!

This is a slightly more recent video where I am still using a lot of hand signals and body cues, but less luring and less treats. Mainly in this vid we are working on "hup", her semi-formal heel (I don't use the command "heel"). I was also working on phasing out some of the hand signals and using more verbal commands. Now she does everything without a hand signal, only verbal, but I don't have a new video.
Cool video thanks for showing us. Nice focus!
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