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Has anyone ever done this? I realized today that my new dog Chukkie is so motivated by a tug or ball that he pays no attention to his leash or collar. I tried food tonight and got the same result. We have just started since he is a big pup and he is getting the basic position and a little heeling at a time. Also working on the other obedience the same way. Maybe it will work but if not, I have the equipment to use nearby.
Paul
Chukkie v Linienbach
 

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WOW Paul that is awesome. He is one amazing dog! I can't wait to see him again. I have no advice for you just keep up the good work. Zack will let you know what does or doesn't work for him.
 

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I actually find it's much easier to get my GSD to heel without a leash, which gives him something to pull against (and something for us to rely on).

You're definitely on a good path. Keep your pup's attention focused on YOU. Then he'll stick close. You're doing the work, not the leash.

 

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Re: Training to heel without using a leash or coll

<span style='font-size: 14pt'>Absolutely!! My dogs will work for their red ball- keep on training with it.</span>
 

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Re: Training to heel without using a leash or coll

In my opinion, teaching the "heel" without leash or collar is the BEST way to do it. If you want a behavior that isn't dependent on leash or collar pressure you're on the right track! Too many people depend so tremendously on guiding/correcting/forcing their dogs with the leash that the dogs have a difficult time transitioning to off-leash because the leash pressure has become part of the entire behavior.

Using a high level of motivation, like you described, is a great way to get intense focus. As he gets really good at it, put it all on verbal or signal and then fade the ball/toy by hiding it on you (at first) and having him do a bit of heeling/obedience before pulling it out and tossing it for him. Eventually you want to fade it to the point of not having to have it on you, but you have lots of time to do that.

My GSD Trick learned to heel completely off-leash and she's always been a beautiful heeling dog (although now, at age 12, I don't ask her to heel much!). She's also been highly dependable off-leash and that's in good part because of the amount of off-leash work I did with her at a young age.

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 
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