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Discussion Starter #1
Why does the desired position seem to be the dog wrapped around the front looking at your face?

I guess it looks unnatural to me.

When I want to walk a dog, leash or no leash, I would like him at my side, staying out of the way of my feet, and aware of my changes of direction and speed, but not necessarily getting a neck strain looking up into my face.

Anyone have a good explanation for this? I noticed in some photos of Heidi, that she does this at least some of the time? In her case anyway, this is not a treat thing because I do not train heeling with treats.
 

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Desired by who? I can't stand that wrapping and forging and I've seen a lot of SchH3 dogs even some higher level competitors that heel in ways that make me cringe. But dogs heel differently based on training, their handler's expectations, the conformation and temperament of the dog. IMO if the handler can't move naturally with some speed and purpose without constantly kneeing their dog then it's not acceptable to me personally.

I want my dog's shoulder even with my own. Of my dogs, Nikon will forge and wrap a bit. This is partly training (not the greatest foundation by me) and partly just how he is and works. Pan is much, much more correct as far as what I want, a tad farther back, straight/parallel with me.

Just offhand (no comment on the training, trainers, or pedigree) this is sort of what I like, go forward to 3:40 and watch for about 20 seconds.
http://vimeo.com/13928339
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Not me, I want my dog to be aware of their surroundings, not just my facial expressions. I think it is unnatural looking.
 

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I think dogs are smart enough to understand context on their own, even given the same command. Both my dogs naturally heel with focus during obedience, Pan especially. Heck, we've only just begun training a formal heel command last night but already he offers almost a BH routine of focused heeling if that's the direction I'm going. In protection the expectations are different and I don't even want their visual attention on me. I've seen a very high level competitive dog nearly miss a reattack because of that armpit focused heeling during protection of all things. However, during an obedience routine or trial I do not expect the dog to be suspicious or distracted by the environment. I do not require 100% head's-up eye contact but if the dog is comfortable in the environment, sometimes that is what I get.
 

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I can't stand that wrapping and forging and I've seen a lot of SchH3 dogs even some higher level competitors that heel in ways that make me cringe.
I'm glad I'm not the only one. And I'm not just saying that because my dogs heel a foot away from my leg. They need to be that far away so I can see around my fat stomach! LOL!

Okay, maybe not a foot away.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well, thanks, armpit healing, LOL. So it is not just me who is not trying to achieve that.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
My dogs are at my leg, and sometime, especially on left turns, they could be said to be crowding, but I tell them BACK or OFF. I do not want them tripping me up. I know in obedience you cannot tell them that, but they usually do not need it. It is just training.

Nothing is more annoying than the people in Rally Advanced or Excellent that hold a fake treat at nose level, right in front of their dog the entire time. I mean, no problem with pointing or giving direction once or twice, but it is unnatural to have the dog follow your fingers around the ring.
 

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Actually, if I had to choose I'd prefer the heads-up-armpit-focus above a dog that is forging/crabbing/wrapping around the handler, but IMO neither is ideal.

I'll pick on myself....the first video is Nikon heeling almost how I like the heel (that was a few days before a trial). As you can see even where I like him to be he is still ever so slightly forging and crabbing a bit but despite the amount of heeling in a SchH or SDA obedience routine it is actually the smallest amount of points so I'm not touching it at this point. The second video is Nikon heeling (towards the beginning after the retrieve thing) but not being as correct as I like - kind of inconsistent with the bouncing and then not bouncing, and forging/crabbing more. So, as picky as I am even my own dog is not perfect, some of it is training, some of it is just his style.


 

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The rule definition for heel position is different in schutzhund and AKC. The dog is more forward in schutzhund. Not that wrapping is the way to do it though. Wrapping can lead to butt out.

When heeling, I want my dog very focsed on me. This is going to be a precision dance of sorts and both partners need to be completely focused to get it perfect. If I am walking in a normal situation, iow there is no one with a clipboard and pencil....then a "close" command is sufficient.

Some people do choose the face as the focal point. In schutzhund that is easier due to the more forward position of the dog.

Rally done with "follow the air cookie" is not so pretty, I agree.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Lies that was fun to watch, you can see that tail wagging away, dog having a great time.
 

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Nothing is more annoying than the people in Rally Advanced or Excellent that hold a fake treat at nose level, right in front of their dog the entire time.
I was at a UKC Rally Trial this weekend and during the judge's briefing, she said that fake "luring" was not allowed.

I also think that's stupid. I see it a lot in the AKC Rally.
 

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As to a dog's view and attention while looking at the handler, there are numerous studies (I have one in a David Mech book here somewhere) that shows that while looking forward, a dog's peripheral vision goes about 280 degrees. So the dog can still see to it's side and to a point behind. So while looking at the handler while in heel position, the rest of the field is not invisible to the dog.

Personally I like this obedience demonstration, something to aspire to IMHO.

 

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Discussion Starter #13
Now I do not know this person in the video or the dog, and you would have to be blind not to see that she and the dog have trained well. And the dog is on, and having fun. But I don't like it. With the dog's neck craned up like that, his hind end is dropped back and his front feet are pawing the air at times. The best moments in my opinion is when the dog is breifly looking forward, ears pitched forward to what is coming next. But the heeling with the head craned up made me think that the dog had a UTI or something, making it walk all funny. AND I am a showline person!!! Should be used to dogs walking on their hocks right? I think the dog is a great looking dog btw. But in my opinion that type of heeling detracts from the dog's looks.
 

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I don't like the "schutzhund limp" as it's sometimes called in that video either. However it doesn't have to do with the dog looking upwards but rather with both the drive and the mechanics of collection that the dog was taught. In this case, too much collection. A dog can still be somewhat light in front and showing a nice prance with the front legs, while still moving more normally in the back.

I want my dog to look at me, but to be moving with a more natural stride. That comes from training both the mechanics and modulating the drive state to be most conducive to the movement desired. Too high a drive state and the dog may overcollect like this, or get bouncy or develop dancing feet, doing a lot of stutter stepping (or get vocal and leak drive in other ways) because the drive, and energy associated with it, is too high for the dog to contain or express with the amount of movement happening in the heeling. The handler striding out and moving faster can help, by providing the dog with a way to release more energy and also allowing the dog to extend his stride and not be so inhibited in it. But you can only move so fast, so the mechanics and drive state need to be adjusted to fit the heeling.
 

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To me, heeling and going for a walk are two vastly different things. Going for a walk I don't care about position much and the dog is free to look around. For formal competition heeling position matters, and I also want the dog's focus.

I do not want a dog that is crowding or wrapping or crabbing, nor do I want that OCD stare at the armpit I see in some dogs. Just solid attention and the connection it brings. Not to mention the dog who is attentive to the handler not only looks nicer, but is going to heel tighter and more correctly through stops, turns and pace changes. Head up focus can be obtained without it looking robotic or unnatural.

A nice heeling dog, moving smoothly and fluidly and naturally, in a nice, close, straight position without bothering the handler, and looking up at the handler in a natural, focused, happy, engaged way is one of the prettiest pictures on earth to me.
 

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I do not require 100% head's-up eye contact but if the dog is comfortable in the environment, sometimes that is what I get.
Very often that heads up heeling helps cover up the dog being uncomfortable or easily distracted. It gives the dog a safe place to channel not just drive but also nervous energy due to discomfort or distraction into what the handler has taught the dog is an acceptable outlet. I've also known more than a few dogs who had nerve issues or overstimulated easily, or who for lack of a better word were simpletons in their heads, and thus couldn't focus on the task at hand if they were aware of the environment at all. So they were taught to completely tune out anything and everything around them and have nothing but tunnel vision (usually for the invisible ball under the handler's armpit).

Not that dogs who heel this way are necessarily uncomfortable or have to be taught this to cover up weakness or to get them to resist distraction and focus on work either. Just pointing out that it doesn't equate to a dog being comfortable.

I know Lies is just talking about how things happen with her dogs and I'm not commenting on her dogs or any specific dog. I'm just talking in general lest that statement be misinterpreted to mean comfortable = focus.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Very often that heads up heeling helps cover up the dog being uncomfortable or easily distracted. It gives the dog a safe place to channel not just drive but also nervous energy due to discomfort or distraction into what the handler has taught the dog is an acceptable outlet. I've also known more than a few dogs who had nerve issues or overstimulated easily, or who for lack of a better word were simpletons in their heads, and thus couldn't focus on the task at hand if they were aware of the environment at all. So they were taught to completely tune out anything and everything around them and have nothing but tunnel vision (usually for the invisible ball under the handler's armpit).

Not that dogs who heel this way are necessarily uncomfortable or have to be taught this to cover up weakness or to get them to resist distraction and focus on work either. Just pointing out that it doesn't equate to a dog being comfortable.

I know Lies is just talking about how things happen with her dogs and I'm not commenting on her dogs or any specific dog. I'm just talking in general lest that statement be misinterpreted to mean comfortable = focus.
thanks for all three posts, but this one, well, I thought that too. If I wanted to get a dog that was flighty/nervous through a title leg, keeping the dog's attention 100% on me, would make the dog less concerned about things going on everywhere else. If I had a nickel for every time our trainer said (to the class or to individuals in the class) "get your dogs attention on you" when they are fixating on something. Usually those reactive dogs are just scared of the other dogs, and the fix to get them through classes or situations is to have them focus on you. So it stands to figure that you could get your squeamish dog through a leg by teaching it to totally focus on you.
 

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Yes you could. But again, that isn't always the case. Watching the dogs and their body language usually makes it pretty clear which is which. It's easy to tell the dog who is nervous and his focus comes out of anxiety and the dog who is overstimulated and his focus comes from excess energy and the dog who is comfortable and happy and his focus comes from just being comfortable and happy and working with his handler.
 

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That's what I like about Schutzhund and most SchH judges. They can read if a dog is a nervous ball of anxiety or is psyched to do the work. We had one judge a number of years ago that stopped the dog as it was walking on the field and fail it. The dog had been trained to pass the temperament portion of the test but the judge wasn't fooled. I don't mind the SchH limp (as it was called) as much as I mind the AKC drag. When I did my first CD with my first Rottweiler, I thought I had pretty snazzy obedience until I went to a SchH trial.
When I am at Schutzhund practice, my dogs know it and work accordingly. They have never had a choke, pinch or ecollar on their entire lives. They work this way out of excitement and I'm good with it. When I take them to the creek for a run, no, they don't stay in fuss position, but if I call them they drop and run. The training can be called into play if needed.
Annette
 

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Very often that heads up heeling helps cover up the dog being uncomfortable or easily distracted. It gives the dog a safe place to channel not just drive but also nervous energy due to discomfort or distraction into what the handler has taught the dog is an acceptable outlet. I've also known more than a few dogs who had nerve issues or overstimulated easily, or who for lack of a better word were simpletons in their heads, and thus couldn't focus on the task at hand if they were aware of the environment at all. So they were taught to completely tune out anything and everything around them and have nothing but tunnel vision (usually for the invisible ball under the handler's armpit).

Not that dogs who heel this way are necessarily uncomfortable or have to be taught this to cover up weakness or to get them to resist distraction and focus on work either. Just pointing out that it doesn't equate to a dog being comfortable.

I know Lies is just talking about how things happen with her dogs and I'm not commenting on her dogs or any specific dog. I'm just talking in general lest that statement be misinterpreted to mean comfortable = focus.

True, I've seen dogs that may have issues like control issues that are trained to heel this way.

I think overall it's kind of off-putting to just say dogs should heel one way and not this way because my dog heels this way and I think it's the best. How many of us have dogs that actually heel 100% perfect as far as what WE want anyway? Not me! My three GSDs all heel very differently but none are *exactly* what I want. There are adjustments I can strive to make in training but then there are compromises I need to make just based on the dog's conformation and temperament.
 
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