Jump to content
BC Boards

Heel not going well

Recommended Posts

Hi all,


Scout is going to intermediate obedience school, mostly to interact with some other dogs, as he generally hates them.


Anyway, our command for this week is "heel". Scout is dreadfully opposed to this command. Things he wants to do, he picks up very quickly (we are learning some "tricks" because he is already accomplished most that was planned for the class) He loves certain tricks and just looks at me like, "that is too stupid and I just can't" for others.


With heel, he just lays down and refuses to move. I have gone through all of my leash training again (per Laura when I had leash troubles a few months back) He is miles and miles better on loose lead walking, but refuses to practice heel. He will not come forward for treats, nor gentle pressure, nor no pressure at all and waiting forever (he just falls asleep). He will not move for excited voices, me crouching and gentle clapping, nothing. He just lays as soon as I give the command.


Any input would be welcome. He did make a doggie friend last week, so maybe he doesn't hate all dogs after all.


He is a super good, polite dog. I couldn't care less about earning the certificate. Is heel really important?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am confused. Like a formal competition obedience "heel" or just loose leash walking? If it is the formal heel, it really isn't important unless you are going to compete but in terms of loose leash walking - very important.


I would change the command first off ("let's go" is a good one) and see where that gets you.


What about toys? While you are playing if you just pick up the toy (like you are going to throw it) and walk away what happens? Toys are good for getting a dog to heel. If the dog likes to tug you can start by just tugging with the dog next to you walking along. Later keep the toy higher so the dog is watching it but still right next to you. Even later you get rid of the toy completely once the dog understands.


Maybe that will help a bit. I think that right now changing the command (and starting over AGAIN! :rolleyes: ) would be a big help. Also making it not as much a command but a game.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you're meaning the close competition 'heel', with dog beside your left leg, then I think you have to start again.


I would start this away from other dogs, because if the presence of other dogs worries Scout, then he will not be able to learn effectively. Lack of interest in yummy treats and/or inability to take the treats would indicate he's under stress and will be having trouble learning.


I base what I'm doing on what I learnt from the English trainer Mary Ray. (She uses the word "Close" as her heel command, since she has to have a different word for right side heeling for her doggy dancing. I changed to "Close" with Fergus when I started re-training him.)


The process starts off with some back-end awareness work - luring the dog in a loop away from your left and then back in to your side - so just coming to heel position in place - not on the move to start with. If you're using a clicker, you start by clicking the dog for going back, and then gradually click for the coming in to heel position. You find that the dog starts to get more fluent, and you can then have the dog sit, place yourself at right angles to him, and lure him into place. What you're shaping, is the dog moving his back end to tuck into the heel position.


That sounds very complicated, and it's certainly easier if someone can show you - but the advantage for you would be that it is something completely different for Scout, so his prejudices against heeling shouldn't get in the way. You work it as a game, and just ask for small steps at a time as you shape what you want.


To get heel on the move, Mary starts by doing a fairly wide circle to the right, with yummy treat in her left hand, arm outstretched, and by moving fairly fast, encourages the dog to trot with her. She ignores jumping for the food, waits till the dog is moving at a nice trot, then clicks, stops and treats.


Gradually, she brings her hand in to her side, held just below waist level for a Border Collie, and still moving fast enough to get the dog moving at a trot. When the dog is moving nicely, click, stop and treat - or you can c/t on the move. Initially, you may be rewarding only a few steps done with nice movement and nice attention.


All this is done off lead where possible - easier to work the hands, and done as a game, with lots of hype. Obviously the click can be replaced by any kind of reward marker.


I'd be doing little bits of training often, interspersed with a game of tuggy or some other kind of motivator - tuggy has the advantage that it helps build the attention to you.


Sorry - this got long, and is complicated to explain. But anyway, it may give you some ideas.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tried off lead, still no luck. He has gotten too excited about his new trick (Bang, he rolls over and plays dead, he thinks this one is a riot, as do all my kids) Now when I ask him to do anything, he does guess what...


It is a formal heel, on leash. Scout is too tuckered out now to bother with anything. Will try again tommorrow.


He would not trot with me inside, will try outside tommorrow. Thanks,Barb.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Scout is too tuckered out now to bother with anything
You've got to be happy with that :rolleyes: !


I know what you mean about them throwing a favourite trick at you. Fergus hasn't learnt the roll over to play dead - but his favourite is a complete roll over - which he can repeat several times so that we end up going round in a circle - only problem is then he's so pleased with himself that he goes ballistic. However, at age 4.5 (years, that is) he's finally learning that he can calm down again fairly quickly.


So, since Scout loves doing tricks, treat the "find close" (i.e. come to the heel position while I'm standing still) as a trick - encourage him to see how quickly he can get round there - and then work it so that you do less of the work luring him round into position, and he does more. Enlist the kids as an appreciative audience once he starts to get it, and he'll do what Fergus sometimes does, and do a great backwards leap to get to heel - he's even done it in the ring when he's been ahead of me on a halt - when an automatic sit is required here. He's looked round, seen he was out of position, and swung his butt back until he was sitting at heel. So cute.


Oh, I meant to say - if Scout does too many of his play dead while you're trying to get something else - just ignore it, take a couple steps forward, and then try again. You can then use "play dead" on cue as a reward - even for just a little bit of work he might give you. It's obviously something he enjoys. Then you just keep upping the ante - ask for a bit more work before he gets to play.


I also forgot to say, when you're teaching the stationary go to heel, to use your left leg to start with - as your left hand with the food draws the loop out, back and in, you can take your left leg back to help the dog get the idea of the direction he's supposed to move first - then as he turns to point back the way you're facing, your left leg comes back to join the other.


Have fun.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with a "lets go command" then once you have him going and he is in the correct position, the heel command could be used.


I know for the dogs my kids have trained through the 4-H program, it is a trick trying to find the words and tone of voice that works well for the individual dog.


As far as the importance of learning the heel command, I personally feel it is REALLY important, but then having a REALLY well behaved dog is important also. I use heel everyday with my dog (s). Spotty (sometimes I take 3 of them at a time) and I walk in the mornings, and when we come around the hay barn back onto the driveway it is a blind curve area so the heel command is important so he is not jogging out ahead with the possibility of him getting run over. Also if there is deer or porcupines out on our walk I can give the heel command and grab a hold of his collar. I am talking the formal left side, shoulder equal with my leg, glancing up at me every once in awhile type of heeling. If I take more than Spot with me, I have them all heel at the same areas, plus carry a leash just in case.


Good luck, be patient it takes practice everyday, make it fun for him also.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...