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pammyd
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OK this may make me sound like a really dumb trainer

 

1st off - Bens barking is getting much better - once I figured out that he was quiet and focused when he had a job to do - and the best job I could give him while still listning to class was to put him in a stay (and of course go back and treat now and again - and move him about and stuff)

He is pretty good all the time when he thinks he is 'working' but the problem is I just cant seem to get him to understand that 'heel' is still 'work'

he is bouncing about all over the place and barking and playing tug on the lead - I can get him to be quiet if I lure his nose to the right position with a treat and let him nibble the treat while we walk about - but he is still bouncing like a maddy and does not really understand the position when we are walking

I can get him to come round 'close' on left and right side (go from facing me to a heel position either side) and a front and finnish to the right (round the back of me sitting nice and close at a heel position) - so he understands the position when we are not moving

He understands walking backwards is 'work' and comming to me - but walking with me is the time to play like an fool until we get something else to do

 

Any ideas??

 

(there - that is something else I love about this breed - or the cross - how the books say to train does not always work - you have to figure out what is going on inside their heads and think of new ways to ask for what you want. The Lab next door does a perfect heel - because she is just doing and not thinking - Ben has to understand before he will just do)

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I have gotten the best results teaching heel (not necessarily a formal obedience heel, since I don't compete) by first teaching the position. Heel first means come and sit at my left side. Then I would take one step forward, and since heel means come sit by my left side, the dog would step forwards too and then sit. Gradually increase the number of steps you can take with the dog still focused. The dog figures out that when I say heel, he is to walk at my left side and wait for me to stop so I can sit. My current dog, Lok, when heeling, his attention is riveted on my face and if I am moving slowly his but is halfway to the ground anticipating my stop so he can sit. I've never had any luck teaching heel where you being walking long distances right away.

 

Hope this helps. Good luck!

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The best technique I've ever learned about for teaching a good heel I learned from a Kay Laurence Freestyle book. It's similar to what Ninso described, but a bit different.

 

1. Teach the dog to nose touch the back of your hand.

 

2. Once your dog will do that, stand so that you are next to a wall or something, but there is enough room for your dog to stand between you and the wall or barrier.

 

3. Hold your hand so that the dog will be standing in heel when he nose touches the back of your hand. Click/Treat (or use marker word if this is effective for you) as your dog nose touches.

 

For this exercise, you want to click the nose touch with your dog standing, if possible. If you need to, hold your hand low, or move slightly forward to get the position if your dog tends to default sit.

 

What you are looking to shape here is having the dog stand in heel.

 

4. Once the dog is doing this consistently, take a single step forward and your dog should move forward to nose touch again. A split second before the nose touch (if possible) click/treat.

 

At this point I also start to click/treat the dog not only for moving into the position as I move, but for holding the position for a few seconds after getting the reward.

 

So, as I move forward, the dog moves up to nose touch - click/treat - wait - 2 - 3 - click/treat (if the dog remains standing in heel).

 

5. Once the dog is doing this fluently, I begin to add steps and then gradually start to move the exercise away from the wall.

 

I also start to fade the target somewhat by click/treat the dog for moving into the position when my hand is out of the picture - I'll vary using the hand target and not using the hand target once the dog is fluently moving forward.

 

Gradually, this becomes walking in heel and I'll start to click/treat less and with more variation between steps. It, at any point, the dog should lose focus or bounce around and play, I would back up and click/treat for heeling for fewer steps and build duration gradually.

 

Once the dog can hold heel position for 5 - 10 steps in a straight line, I'll start to add in turns, changes of pace, and Freestyle or Rally moves.

 

I would also work on heeling without the lead for now so it's not a "near occasion of sin" so-to-speak for him. Once he can heel more fluently, the leash can be re-introduced and it might not serve as so much of a distraction.

 

Also, once he has more duration, I recommend figure 8's for working on building duration in heeling. Both of my Border Collies LOVE figure 8's and I've found that using them helps a lot with improving heeling.

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2. Once your dog will do that, stand so that you are next to a wall or something, but there is enough room for your dog to stand between you and the wall or barrier.

 

I'm sorry, I'm also working on this and can you please clarify if the dog's side should be at the wall or his butt?

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It wasn't stupid at all. If I were training my dog to walk sideways in heel - which I do for Freestyle - I would have the dog's rear end near a wall!

 

These things can be tough to visualize based on words.

 

Hi Kristine:

Taking a side trail: how different or similar would your process be for teaching the sideways heel?

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I've found that teaching sideways heel depends a lot on the dog - I tend to mix up a variety of exercises at once. Here is the main method that I use. This is for teaching the dog to heel sideways toward me.

 

First, I get the dog used to moving his rump "in".

 

I place a kitchen chair in the middle of the living room floor and walk up to it with my dog in heel. The chair will end up being in the center with your dog closer to the chair and you on the outside. When I get slightly past the chair, I stop and click/treat the dog for holding heel position when I stop (you don't want a sit when you stop). Then I take a very exaggerated step toward the chair (turning the corner "into" the dog) and move so that I end up standing next to the chair again - 90 degrees from my original position. The dog must move and swing his rump toward me to stay in heel when I do this, and I try to click/treat when the dog is moving his rear end in.

 

I practice this around the chair until the dog can move his rear end in automatically without me having to stop, and then I start to condition a cue to that rear end movement. I call it "in".

 

Once the dog is solid with that, I put the dog in heel and make a very slight pivot away from the dog (as if I were going to move in front of the dog, but I don't go very far) and cue "in". The dog's head is still near my leg and he should shift his rump toward me to end up back in heel. Click/treat. As he gets better at this, I make my pivot a little bigger. And, as the dog gets the idea, he starts to move with me, so I say "in" as I start to move.

 

What this will end up looking like is the handler standing in one place making a pivot to the right and the dog is trying to stay in heel (moving his rear end "in") as the handler moves.

 

This does not need to be perfect - although if the dog can stay in pretty good heel, this can be a really cool looking move.

 

Now I am ready to start teaching sideways heeling.

 

I start out by putting the dog in heel and walking forward until I get right in front of a wall or a piece of furniture. The dog and I are facing the barrier directly in front of us.

 

Now I take a slight step to the right and say to the dog, "in". Chances are that at first the dog will move his head in first and the rump will follow - that's fine. What you want to click is the rear end moving in to put the dog back in heel. Soon the dog will start to move sideways.

 

If you find that the dog moves backwards instead of sideways (Dean does this for some odd reason), you can place something behind you and the dog, as well so you are facing a barrier (with about 6 inches to spare) and there is a barrier behind the dog (with a few inches to spare). Once the dog gets the basic idea of going sideways, the barrier behind the dog can usually be quickly dropped.

 

I teach this one painstaking step at a time at first. The dog is in heel, I step to the right, the dog moves sideways to the right - click/treat. As we practice I look for more fluid movement.

 

Then I increase to two steps - click/treat. Once you get up to 4 or 5 steps, you can start to click/treat on a variable schedule, and then, eventually drop it.

 

And, of course, after the dog is moving a couple of steps, you can start to move away from the wall.

 

The whole process can be done with the dog on the left or right, and then repeated on the other side. I would only work one side until it is fluent, though, before moving on to the other.

 

Now, if you want the dog to learn to heel sideways away from you - I use a whole other process for teaching that!! I can describe it if you like. I find that teaching a dog to heel sideways toward me is usually easier and that's how I start teaching sidepassing.

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Very nice, thanks! We'll give that a try - once we get there.

 

A general question. Obviously this depends on the dog and the person, but what is your training program look like? My model to date has been based on the lessons I've taken, which is to say, a lesson is usually x minutes and the instructor tries to maximize the value of the time spent, ie, give the student the most for the money.

 

WHat i know at this point is: short training sessions (ie, on a single specific skill), and end on a positive, ie when the dog is succeeding. Have you found that there is a max or sweet spot with regard to how many new things to introduce at once? Or do you hold off on introducing anything new until, say 'near fluency' is achieved in the one skill? Do you repeat skill sets within a single session (Skill one, skill two, play break, skill one, skill two, skill three). How long are your training sessions in total? 30 minutes x 2 daily? One hour? As long as both of you are on an upward trend? I'm looking for an outline or rule of thumb for a plan, actually.

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When it comes to at home training, I generally spend about 5 - 10 minutes with each dog per session. Ideally I do two sessions per day, but that doesn't happen every single day.

 

A training session for me generally looks like this:

 

1. Warm up with well known behaviors - generally this, for Speedy and Dean, is a set of spins, twirls, and leg weaves. Sometimes I'll throw in some circles around me or some paw work. I start off with things that they know very well and use a high rate of reinforcement.

 

2. Work on a behavior "in training" - this might be something brand new, or it might be continuing work on something that isn't fluent. For Speedy right now I am working on his right side heeling, which is weak. Dean might work on his spin-under, or lifting his paws, or something from agility. Maddie might do weaves here. Sometimes I will substitute a free shaping session into this slot. I'll let Speedy play around with a step stool, or have Dean move his wobble board around, or have Maddie do 101 things with a box. Or, I might work on crate manners or CU mat work at this point. I use a high rate of reinforcement at this point, too.

 

3. Review moves that are nearly fluent - here I will do some sequencing, or heelwork, or with Maddie some jumping. This is where I will use less reinforcement, or variable reinforcement. Here I'm building duration - even if it's just a little duration. I don't introduce anything new at this point, but try to enhance the dog's ability to do things that still need a little work.

 

4. Repeat step 1! Again, I have the dog do some well known behaviors and use a high rate of reinforcement to end off the session.

 

If I do two sessions in a day, I will usually make the second one substantially different from the first. So, if I work on Freestyle with Speedy and Dean in the morning, I might have Dean work on Agility in the afternoon and have Speedy do some CU or shaping in the afternoon. If Maddie did weaves in the morning, I might have her do start line stays or some contact work in the afternoon.

 

One of my weaknesses, I think, as a trainer, is that I don't tend to stay with a behavior until it is really fluent. I tend to be "all over the place". A week for Dean might look like this: Monday - heeling; Tuesday - sidepassing; Wednesday - weave poles; Thursday - spin under; Friday - start line stays. Then I end up going back to the same things here and there over the course of weeks.

 

I do a little better with Speedy and Maddie because both of them do only one sport.

 

Ideally, I'd like to have maybe 5 new behaviors that I'm working on with Dean, or 5 "focus" behaviors for any of them, and stick with those until they are fluent.

 

Someday . . . .

 

The only time I hold off introducing a new skill until something else is fluent is when there is some relationship between the two. So, I don't teach a dog to spin (counter clockwise) until twirl (clockwise) is rock solid. But I'll work on twirl and circle (around me) at the same time. I will teach the dog to raise the left paw first and when that is rock solid, I'll work on the right paw. But I might work on standing on hind legs in the same timeframe that I'm working on paw work.

 

Honestly, sometimes I don't know how the dog keep track of all of it! But they love it and somehow they manage to learn!

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Thankyou so much

I was thinking of trying targating the heel. I like the idea of the sit but the problem is that we might be doing heelwork to music soon and I dont want him thinking he has to sit every time we stop - but I can see how it would work really well

I had actually wanted to ask about how a training sesh works but I never got round to it

Another forum I am on they all seem to conentrait on one thing till it is perfect - but to me that seemed boring for me and the dog

So I had been kinda doing what you say because it made sense to me but I was worried that I was doing something wrong treating so much for known behaviours

I feel much better now

and lots of good ideas there too - I was running out of new tricks to try

And the side stepping your way makes much more sense

I have the mary ray book just now and I was working on her side stepping (which does not need a heel) basically you get the dog to have a solid position right infront of you, then you pivot round a wee bit and cue the dog to get into its positon again - and it should swing the butt round

Build that up till it has got the hang of it then you work on to sidestepping with the dog facing you - and then eventualy beside

I can see that works too but having the chair and the wall makes it easier because the dog has to move cos they are in the way

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Thankyou so much

I was thinking of trying targating the heel. I like the idea of the sit but the problem is that we might be doing heelwork to music soon and I dont want him thinking he has to sit every time we stop - but I can see how it would work really well

 

If you are thinking of doing heelwork to music, I can't recommend Kay Laurence's "Clicker Dances with Dogs" enough! It's like a manual of a solid foundation and how to train it! I've gotten a lot of good techniques out of that book. I adapt some of them, but I've found that with her books I have to adapt very little.

 

I had actually wanted to ask about how a training sesh works but I never got round to it

Another forum I am on they all seem to conentrait on one thing till it is perfect - but to me that seemed boring for me and the dog

 

I feel that same way. Also, in the classes that I take, we aren't just working on one skill at a time, so if I don't practice several things at once at home, I'm not prepared for class.

 

So I had been kinda doing what you say because it made sense to me but I was worried that I was doing something wrong treating so much for known behaviours

 

This is definitely something that people differ on. I always used a high rate of reinforcement - even for behaviors that my dog already knows - because I was in a situation where I was working with a fearful dog and using a high rate of reinforcement taught him to be confident in a class - and competition - setting.

 

I had always heard a lot of "once your dog knows it, don't use food", but I could not have applied that to Speedy if I wanted to.

 

But there is another school of thought - one that I have really incorporated into all of my training - that the higher the rate of reinforcement a dog has on a consistent basis, the better competition performance (where there is no food in the ring) is going to be.

 

The major qualifier in that framework is that you use the food as a reward, not as a lure (once a behavior is known). So, Speedy knows "twirl" - he has done it a thousand times. But when I have him twirl in a warm up, I frequently (not every single time, but more often than not) click and treat him for it. I don't use the food to get him to twirl, though.

 

I'm going to reference Kay Laurence here again - in Clicker Dances With Dogs, she talks about using a higher rate of reinforcement in order to prepare a dog for competition. Basically, what I got from that was to use a high rate of reinforcement during warm up - even for known behaviors - then have a portion in the middle where reinforcement is variable to build duration - and then use the high rate of reinforcement at that end.

 

Translate that a competition setting and it makes a lot of sense. I can use food rewards (outside of the ring, but on site) as my dog warms up. This can serve to help the dog get focused and understand that he is about to do some Freestyle. Then, we go into the competition ring, and there is no food. We leave the ring at the end, and he can have a "jackpot", which can be food or play - depending on the dog.

 

So, for me rewarding might look like this:

 

Warm up - sit (c/t) - down (c/t) - leg weave to right side (c/t) - spin (c/t) - come front/remain standing (c/t) - around to left (c/t) - twirl (c/t)

 

Say on this day we aren't going to work on a new behavior, but move right into some sequencing. Now I will go to a variable rate of reinforcement for known behaviors, and it might look like this:

 

Sit - paw - stay as I circle behind - leg weaves (reward)

Cue dog to back away from me as I stand still - bow - twirl - recall - leg weave (reward)

Left side heel 5 steps - twirl - heel 5 steps - swing to right - spin (reward)

 

When I do the sequencing, I usually keep the food off of me, and keep it in a bowl, so at the reward point, we run to the bowl together and I deliver the treat.

 

If my dog were to struggle during any of those sequences, I would back up. Say the dog was surging ahead during heeling. I would work on something more solid during the sequences and then work on heeling - with a higher rate of reinforcement - separately.

 

Finally, at the very end, I go back to high rate of reinforcement. This is where I might incorporate play into the session. So - especially for Dean, with whom I started toy training very early - I might cue a twirl and throw the ball. He brings it back - leg weaves - throw the ball. He brings it back - cue him to back away from me all the way through the kitchen (he loooves this!) - throw the ball. Back away - twirl - spin - down - big throw, and we're done.

 

Or, I might use food for the last part. Or I might have a fun agility exercise for the last part. There are so many ways to mix it up and keep the dog guessing - and learning!

 

One more thing that I want to say is that another concept that I learned from a Kay Laurence book - her Intermediate Clicker book is to consider a training session as one of two things - a teaching session or a training session. In a teaching session, you are training a brand new behavior or putting a behavior on cue or bringing a relatively new behavior to initial fluency. In a training session, you are building fluency, duration, and skill in behaviors that your dog knows fairly well.

 

She generally recommends keeping teaching and training sessions separate, but I tend to mix things up a lot. Still, I've found that making the distinction has helped me to make my sessions more effective. I'll do training (warm up), teaching (new or behaviors in progress), training (duration/fluency), and training (wrap-up)

 

I have the mary ray book just now and I was working on her side stepping (which does not need a heel) basically you get the dog to have a solid position right infront of you, then you pivot round a wee bit and cue the dog to get into its positon again - and it should swing the butt round

Build that up till it has got the hang of it then you work on to sidestepping with the dog facing you - and then eventualy beside

 

I've used that method, too, and I still use an adaptation of it for teaching the dog to side step away from me in heel or right heel, and of course, in front of me and . . . I can't believe Speedy is actually starting to work on this . . . behind me!

 

I've found, though, that if the dog can sidestep toward you fluently for 5 steps or so, it makes teaching the dog to walk sideways in front, or to sidepass away in heel or right heel, a lot easier simply because the dog is used to the move itself.

 

My dream move is this:

 

Dean backs away from me about 10 feet and stops. We twirl simultaneously, holding the distance. Once we face each other again, we both sidepass to the left or right about 5 steps, holding the distance, in time to the music. He sits - waves a paw at me, and we both do a half spin so we are facing opposite directions. He backs toward me, goes under my legs backwards, and we land face to face.

 

We are working on all of the pieces. I think he will be able to do it someday!!

 

Sorry to go so far off topic! But hey - it all starts with the dog understanding position!

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Thankyou, that has really helped me sort it all out in my head

And I am sure you guys will manage that sequence someday real soon

You need to know your goal to be able to work towards it (but of course by the time you have got there you will have though of something else you want to do)

Our agility trainer keeps on at me to bring Ben along to the Heelwork to music classes - so once I have the pennies

But it is really great to get tips on how to start it all

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