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When doing heel work is the dog suppose to look up at the handler or is that something handlers prefer? I only ask because watching youtube videos on obedience they all do, but when i have watched our advanced class during our novice training class none of the dogs look at the handler.

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In competition obedience heeling it is not required for the dog to be looking at the handler.

 

Personally, I prefer my own dogs to be focused on me during heeling but I'm not strict about them doing so. I like the way it looks. It is something that can be taught.

Also, keep in mind that this is a very unnatural and uncomfortable position for some dogs. Having said that, I do let the dog work out how they are most comfortable holding their head during heeling. My last 2 dogs seem to naturally want to focus on me while heeling. However if they felt they needed to look away from me or they were uncomfortable heeling that way, I wouldn't correct for it or force them to hold their heads up.

 

During my heeling practice, I like to break out and play spontaneously so when my dogs heel they heel in a very animated way and with focus on me anticipating the play session. I work hard at trying to keep myself more fun than the surroundings and other people and dogs.

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In competition obedience heeling it is not required for the dog to be looking at the handler.

 

Personally, I prefer my own dogs to be focused on me during heeling but I'm not strict about them doing so. I like the way it looks. It is something that can be taught.

Also, keep in mind that this is a very unnatural and uncomfortable position for some dogs. Having said that, I do let the dog work out how they are most comfortable holding their head during heeling. My last 2 dogs seem to naturally want to focus on me while heeling. However if they felt they needed to look away from me or they were uncomfortable heeling that way, I wouldn't correct for it or force them to hold their heads up.

 

During my heeling practice, I like to break out and play spontaneously so when my dogs heel they heel in a very animated way and with focus on me anticipating the play session. I work hard at trying to keep myself more fun than the surroundings and other people and dogs.

 

So during a session of training as your heeling, you will just break out and just start playing? i like that idea...

I too like the way it looks, and i have been trying to work on watch me while heeling... not going to well. his heeling all in all is getting better but the greatest yet. he tends to walk alittle ahead and i always have to correct him. that correction may last a few steps then back to speeding up. any thoughts?

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While I don't require my dog to focus on me while heeling, I do teach attention on me. I do this while the dog is sitting in heel position and we are not moving. I use a food lure, ask the dog to watch and praise when the dog looks at me and feed the food lure. (you can also click and feed) Once you think your dog understands what "watch" means without the lure, then you can start moving a few steps at a time with the dog (3-4 steps and gradually build on that). Don't expect a full heel pattern with perfect attention. I do a lot of short bursts of heeling and break out (into play for one of my dogs and jackpots of food for the other because each is different in what motivates them).

Caution that if you have a dog that likes to forge, don't break out into play away from you, always draw the dog towards you to play. These break-outs may cause even more forging.

You can do some left about turns for the forging. Instead of about-turning to your right, about turn to the left.

I really like the way the break-out and play keeps the dog's focus on me for the fun without nagging them to watch me. They naturally focus on me because they never know when we're going to play and they anticipate it.

I also teach a "get back" command and depending on the context of my training, I will use the "get back" command. I will use it if Chase forges (he knows he needs to pay attention and keep control of how he rear is propelling him forward), I use "get back" for a left turn also and that means rear end moves back and front end just pivots and I also add the "get back" command to a left pivot in place. (I taught the "get back" the way Celeste Meade teaches it, she calls it brick work, I think it's been mentioned here before. My dogs love it!)

 

I also have to say that I have a dog who is a forger. It's a tough habit to break. I really think it stems from me not being knowledgeable enough at the time to make sure I was doing everything right, from the way I taught her to watch me to the way I taught proper heel position to begin with. I will also add that she never forged while competing, only in our practice and in class where she was really comfortable. It was actually to the point that I felt she was racing me while we were heeling. :rolleyes:

With Chase, I was very careful to make sure I taught proper heel position from the beginning. He's not a forger, he has near perfect heel position. :D

 

It's probably more than you wanted to know but I hope all that makes sense.

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There is a HUGE thread started just last month on this forum going through ALOT of the starting and maintaining of competition heel work. It's got some great tips on there from succesful experienced instructors. I would highly recomend seeking a succesful handler/trainer to mentor you in getting started on the right foot.

 

It is tru that the dog doesn't need to be looking AT YOUT FACE to heel properly, but you absoultely need to have "focused attention" to train and maintain competiton heelwork. This is often taught seperately before you start heeling, builindg up with proofing and distrations so the dog understands that it's his/her responsibility to pay attention to you when in HEEL POSITION! A collar pop is usually introduced as a means to communicate to your dog not only attention but correct position. This all being said, working on focues attention needs to be fun and motivating, lots of praise and treats and LOTS of play!

 

Rewarding in the correct position is extremely important and can mean the difference between a chronic forger and not. BC's are notorious for there forging habits which is why, for them, rewarding for the correct "focus spot" you are going to teach in heeling is even more important! I encourage and train for my dogs to find there own "focus spot" and maintain that, usually above the left pant pocket or somewhere along the left side of your arm. I find with border collies by encouraging them to look directly in your face when heeling, pulls them forward to often into a forge position....

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When doing heel work is the dog suppose to look up at the handler or is that something handlers prefer? I only ask because watching youtube videos on obedience they all do, but when i have watched our advanced class during our novice training class none of the dogs look at the handler.

 

In case you are interested in a cross-sports perspective, in Musical Freestyle heeling with eye contact is not required, but it is still desired by most handlers for very good reason.

 

We not only get judged on our dog's moves, but on "attention". There is a certain percentage of "attention" that is expected at each level. By the time you are in Intermediate, an extremely high degree of attention is required - even as the dog moves through more technical sequences of moves.

 

There are many moves where the dog breaks eye contact with the handler and moves independently, but in straight heeling sequences - whether the dog is in left heel, right heel, or front (which is also a "heelwork position" in Freestyle), eye contact from the dog is going to contribute greatly to the routine's technical and artistic score.

 

If the dog heeling without direct eye contact matched the choreography in a particularly striking way, then heeling without eye contact would be more "valuable". But typically, heeling with eye contact is going to be considered good "attention", so that is typically the style that we train.

 

Of course, this can vary from breed to breed. The Border Collies often "high step" or "prance" when heeling with eye contact and that can also bring style and artistry to the routine.

 

I know you aren't specifically talking about Freestyle, but I though you might enjoy a different perspective. :rolleyes: I love the artistic side of heelwork.

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Ive read some of the older posts on how to get your dog to look at you while heeling. it seems that the most common way is to train first to have your dogs nose touch your hand and then gradually add steps... is that right? My BC is doing pretty well with heeling with no distractions but now ive been trying to get him to look at me when we heel. I have taught him the watch me command but while heeling he will look back down and im constantly saying watch me , good watch etc. Maybe im moving too fast? do any of you have other ideas? or should i just slow down with the distance of heeling and the watch me command?

 

BTW, how important is it to teach rear end awareness? ive been practicing with it... a short box on the ground and he steps on it and rotates his back end as i move.

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Ive read some of the older posts on how to get your dog to look at you while heeling. it seems that the most common way is to train first to have your dogs nose touch your hand and then gradually add steps... is that right? My BC is doing pretty well with heeling with no distractions but now ive been trying to get him to look at me when we heel. I have taught him the watch me command but while heeling he will look back down and im constantly saying watch me , good watch etc. Maybe im moving too fast? do any of you have other ideas? or should i just slow down with the distance of heeling and the watch me command?

 

I do use a hand target to help familiarize my dog with position when learning heeling (right and left side), but I don't use that for the eye contact part.

 

I start with eye contact while stationary with the dog in heel. I click and treat the heck out of it. I actually don't use a "watch me" cue for this, but I heavily reinforce voluntary eye contact. I do this with the dog in a stand, but a sit would be fine if that's your preference. For Freestyle I have to be careful not to reinforce sits too heavily because I don't want the dog to sit automatically every time I stop since I usually don't want a sit when we stop.

 

Once the dog is offering stationary heel position with eye contact, I take one step. If the dog breaks eye contact, I click the instant the dog offers eye contact, until he or she began to maintain it through the step.

 

Once I have this for one step, I build to two, etc. Once I have about five steps, I start to increase the distance much faster, and incorporate a variable reinforcement schedule.

 

This is pretty much the process I've used to teach this with Dean and I'm very happy with the results. The reason I don't use a "watch me" cue is because I want eye contact to be a default while heeling. If I have to tell the dog to "watch me", he does not understand that the eye contact is always a part of the behavior of heeling.

 

I don't personally require my dogs to maintain constant eye contact while heeling, but they tend to develop that along the way since I do train heeling with the eye contact.

 

Right now I'm actually doing this same process with backwards heeling. The reason I want the dog to maintain eye contact is so he does not end up backing faster than I do. He can't end up behind me if he is maintaining eye contact.

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Again, this discussion kinda comes down to how succesful do you want to be? If you want to compete I can give you a basic lay down and examples of how competitive trainers teach the focused heel. Which is the foundation for all competitive obedience, rally blabla :D

 

#1) the dog MUST understand heel position. This is done by accurately rewarding correct heel position and done so in steps. This must be proofed. You know your dog has an understanding of heel position and is ready to move from stationary to moving heel work when you can call him to heel from anywhere and he will place himself correctly in heel position.

 

#2) VERY IMPORTANT, the dog must understand that when he is in heel position it is his job to pay attention to you. Whenever he is IN heel position he should know this without you having to lure him, give him contstant chatter OR reminding him. You should be able to have your dog in heel position, with someone walking by you with another dog near there nose or bouncing a tennis ball in there face without your dog taking it's eyes off of you. This is also done in steps and proofed well before going to the next step so your dog understands it.

 

#3) Heeling to the dog and working with you should be FUN FUN FUN!!! He must enjoy heeling and working for you to carry you through the training! He should be excited to work with you :D You do this by making things FUN!! Motivational!! Tugging, playing, jackpotting treats! Doing this at the right time is important and knowing when to reward is important :D But jus having fun is the most important!!! :rolleyes:

 

It is your job as a trainer to teach these things to your dog and make sure he understands it by however means you can achieve it.

 

I would shy away from using your hand as a target for heel position. Alot of trainers use a touch command for a "release command" but you don't want the dog becoming dependent on looking at your hands further down. It's important to teach the dog as soon as possible to line up and find correct heel position without needing to lure them. I would also shy away from teaching the dog to look directly at your face when heeling. Luring either way will pull your dog forward into a foged postion. The dog will become to dependent aat wanting to look at your face and in your eyes instead of focusing on the correct postion. He idealy should be focusing on your left side, a line from your left hip pocket up to your ear. You want to reward from there, lower down by the pocket when starting out, closer to his face. Then as he gets better at focusing move the reward along this line upwards. You can eventually put food in your mouth but always reward from this line! Also, do NOT use your left hand!! This will encourage the dog to look and focus on your hand, eventually drawing him to want to look at the front of your body which will forge him! You can evenually hold a small toy under you armpit, dropping it as a reward. Or you can hold a toy in your right hand, rewarding with it on that line!

 

It is also very important to teach rear end awareness and the exercises you are practicing are great, you want the dog to associate his rear/body movement also with yours. You want the dog to use his rear and pivot with cues from your shoulder. We do this by putting the leash behind the back of the knees, tight. Holding it in your right hand behind you knees with a treat in your left hand to keep the dogs head up pivot in place just a tad to the left keeping pressure on the leash. Tell him to "get back", you want to eliminate this eventually but it's useful in the beginning.If done right your dog will pivot in heel postion with you, moving his rear and keeping it in line with your body. Once the dog gets used to the movement eliminate the lure keeping his head up while turning. Keep you shoulder square when doing this. You are teaching him to cue off your left shoulder movement to pivot and keep his rear in alinment when turning. Ugh, it's so much easier to show rather than explaing and there are other steps to this but thats the basics.

 

You can also do the same thing to a degree when working on fronts. You stand in place, pivoting in a circle and your dog should be able to move laterally around you to front position. This ALSO is easier to show how to teach rather than explain :D

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You can also teach a pivot with a clicker using a dining room chair.

 

I start with the dog in a sit in between the chair and me. I move my right foot out in front of him, turned toward the direction that we are going to pivot, then I release, and we move together around the outside corner of the chair to line up next to the next edge. I click the instant the dog's rump starts to pivot in to me as we round the corner.

 

I do this without a lure, if possible. If the dog has a sense of moving with you, you won't need a lure. I vary hand position (behind my back, tucked at my waist, etc.) so the dog does not become dependent on one hand position to pivot.

 

After repeating several times, I drop the sit and we go slowly around the four corners of the chair, one after the other. Every time the dog's rump pivots in, I click/treat.

 

Once the dog has this down pat, I replace the chair with a pylon and we repeat, going around the four corners of the base of the pylon.

 

And once the dog gets this, I take away the pylon and we pivot without it.

 

This makes super nice pivots. Dean can go 'round and 'round and 'round, holding heel as I pivot in circles to the left. In fact, for his left finish I have him pivot into heel instead of loop just because he loves to pivot so much.

 

Of course, we do this on the right, as well.

 

This did a lot for his rear end awareness and you can really see it when he heels. He is very precise about where he places all of his feet as he heels. It's really pretty.

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For me I like my dogs to be looking at me that way they can read my body language as to where we may be going next. I don't teach them to look at me it comes naturally with just being handler focused. The second I bring out a clicker or treat they know it is time for training and time to look at me. There are times when I have trained the dogs to look away i.e. forward focus in Agility but they are to watch me first and when I assume position look back to where they are going. Just rewarding higher so they have to look up to get their treat or holding you hand up at you stomach not handing at the side but if you have always trained with your dog looking at you I would expect it to become natural. I would start just standing still to get the dog to look at you, if they can't look at you whilst standing still then moving is much much harder. Just start in a standing position and reward every time the dog looks at you. I would use a clicker for such a precise movement but that is personal. Reward so the head up upwards and towards you. If you reward only when looking at you the dog will catch on. When the dog is looking at you then start taking a couple of steps, do baby steps.

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You can also teach a pivot with a clicker using a dining room chair.

 

I start with the dog in a sit in between the chair and me. I move my right foot out in front of him, turned toward the direction that we are going to pivot, then I release, and we move together around the outside corner of the chair to line up next to the next edge. I click the instant the dog's rump starts to pivot in to me as we round the corner.

 

I do this without a lure, if possible. If the dog has a sense of moving with you, you won't need a lure. I vary hand position (behind my back, tucked at my waist, etc.) so the dog does not become dependent on one hand position to pivot.

 

After repeating several times, I drop the sit and we go slowly around the four corners of the chair, one after the other. Every time the dog's rump pivots in, I click/treat.

 

Once the dog has this down pat, I replace the chair with a pylon and we repeat, going around the four corners of the base of the pylon.

 

And once the dog gets this, I take away the pylon and we pivot without it.

 

This makes super nice pivots. Dean can go 'round and 'round and 'round, holding heel as I pivot in circles to the left. In fact, for his left finish I have him pivot into heel instead of loop just because he loves to pivot so much.

 

Of course, we do this on the right, as well.

 

This did a lot for his rear end awareness and you can really see it when he heels. He is very precise about where he places all of his feet as he heels. It's really pretty.

 

 

I am having a hard time visualizing this...any chance you could tape it, Kristine?

 

Thanks

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I don't think I ever actually taught watching me as a specific behavior, it came attached to the behavior of staying in heel position. If my dog understands his job is to remain in that position, he naturally watches me.

 

I don't personally care if my dog has his head cranked up so long as he is paying close enough attention to see changes. This also means I have to learn and be consistent with *my* body language as well. Most of my big dogs seem to focus on my shoulders, one of my Papillons clearly is looking at my feet.

 

If my body says "we are heeling" then they fall into position. Its pretty cute, I can stand up and set my left arm at my waist and 3 dogs jockey for position.

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Right now I'm actually doing this same process with backwards heeling. The reason I want the dog to maintain eye contact is so he does not end up backing faster than I do. He can't end up behind me if he is maintaining eye contact.

 

Kristine -

a question for you. When you say "backwards heeling" do you mean you are backing up and the dog is in front of you, moving towards you as you are moving backwards? or do you mean that both of you are moving backwards together?

 

The reason I ask is because I've experimented with my dogs and their focus/attention and got really nice results, especially with Chase - he was a clean slate, teaching him to focus on me while moving towards me as I was backing up and then I would change direction and move forward while I gave him the heel command. The beautiful attention from the front translated to beautiful attention while moving heel position.

I saw a video of a woman and her BC from another country (can't even remember where or the link now) and this is actually how she taught focused heeling. Always from the front while walking backwards then slowly progressed to the dog moving into heel position.

It also results in very animated (prancing) heeling.

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Kristine -

a question for you. When you say "backwards heeling" do you mean you are backing up and the dog is in front of you, moving towards you as you are moving backwards? or do you mean that both of you are moving backwards together?

 

Dog is in heel, or right side heel, and we are both moving backwards together.

 

It's tough to teach without stepping on the dog's feet. That can just about ruin it for some dogs. :rolleyes:

 

Dean tends to back up faster than I do and he ends up behind me, so we're taking it slow and he's learning to maintain eye contact as we move backwards. That comes from reinforcing independent backing way too much when we first started out. Now he's learning to back with me.

 

The reason I ask is because I've experimented with my dogs and their focus/attention and got really nice results, especially with Chase - he was a clean slate, teaching him to focus on me while moving towards me as I was backing up and then I would change direction and move forward while I gave him the heel command. The beautiful attention from the front translated to beautiful attention while moving heel position.

 

That's a separate move. I do that, too, and it does translate to nice attention. While we usually use transitions when changing direction, sometimes I do just change directions and cue a new position. That's a great way to work on duration, too.

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OK, rushdoggie - here is your visual.

 

First, I apologize for the quality of the videos. I had nobody to film, so I have the camera on a stool. Everything that needs to be in the picture is in there, but not much more! Also, these are dark. I wanted to film earlier when the sun was still out, but my camera battery was dead. Still, you can see what you need to see. Dean shows up well.

 

This is actually how I taught Dean to pivot left, so the steps shown did lead to the result shown! :rolleyes:

 

Step 1 - Using the chair to teach the dog to offer the pivot in:

 

 

Back when I started this with him, he didn't know any kind of stay, so I actually had food on his nose (to get him in place and to get him to move) when I first taught it. Obviously, he doesn't need that now, but that's an option for a dog who does not hold a stay yet.

 

The purpose of the right foot out in front is to show the dog where we are going. Note, after I dropped the sit, I also dropped that exaggerated foot cue.

 

We did this for quite a while since he had almost zero training at the time.

 

Step 2 - Using the pylon to solidify the dog's understanding of the pivot movement:

 

 

When I first start this step, I go back to using the sit until the dog gets the idea. Once the dog is staying with me and is starting to offer the pivot, I drop the sit and the exaggerated foot cue.

 

During this step I really look for the dog to offer the pivot in. Once I see it - and Dean does it very obviously at one point in this demo - I start to add the cue. I did not do that in the video. His cue is "twizzle". I started to say "twizzle" just before he would offer the pivot in.

 

There is actually a third step that I forgot about until after I had made these.

 

Once the dog knows the word and is offering the behavior on cue with the pylon there, I take the pylon away and set the dog up in heel position, but perpendicular to his normal heel position (so his nose is near my leg, but his rear end is halfway between front and heel. I would cue "twizzle" and wait for him to offer the pivot in. I would click/treat that.

 

I can film that step, if you want.

 

Anyway, the final result . . .

 

 

Dean's favorite dance move. This is also his - 90 degree left pivot, 180 degree left pivot, U turn, 270 left turn, 360 left turn, and left finish for his beloved Rally.

 

He loves it.

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That's a great way to work on duration, too.

 

I have also found this to be true!

BCKris, maybe this is something you might want to try to help you increase the duration of your attention.

It's easier for the dog to understand the concept of attention on you from the front and it seems like it's an easier transition for the dog moving from front to heel position and maintaining the attention that way.

Maybe Kristine finds this to be true also.

 

I'll also add that I've found that your pace plays a role in keeping your dog focued on you. The faster I move/heel with my dogs, the more focused they are on me. They have no time to dawdle and look around. I keep my pace quick.

Don't know if anyone else finds this to be true.

 

Again, I never move more than a few steps at a time and gradually and slowly build to asking the dog to move in heel position with me. I personally find it's a long process if you want a nice heeling dog. I spend alot of time on heeling when training because in most venues, that's where you have the chance of losing most of your points. Not to mention that I love watching a dog with beautiful heeling.

Heeling can be so boring for the dog (for the person too sometimes) and as others here have said, you must find ways to keep it fun for the dog.

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Heeling can be so boring for the dog (for the person too sometimes) and as others here have said, you must find ways to keep it fun for the dog.

 

I always find this really interesting because both Speedy and Dean seem to adore heeling. They just love it for it's own sake, and I honestly don't know why. I've never had to "motivate" them to heel. In fact, I sometimes use heeling to reward Dean at the end of a good Agility run in class! Yes, I use heeling to reward Agility - he loves it that much!

 

Maybe that comes from the super high rate of reinforcement that I use in the early stages of teaching heeling. Maybe moving together just feels good to them. Maybe it's because I don't find it boring, so our mutual interest has sparked a love for it. Maybe using music in our practices sparks that love. Who knows?

 

If I found myself with a dog that seemed uninterested, bored, or stressed by heeling, I would definitely go back to square one, retrain, and use a higher rate of reinforcement. I would also incorporate the Give Me a Break Game from Control Unleashed to build the dog's desire to heel. This might include use of tug or ball or just a chance to go off and sniff in the corner - depending on what the dog wanted.

 

MicheleS's suggestion is a good one - moving backwards with the dog moving toward you in front, then transition to forward heeling. For this, I would use a simple pivot (of myself) to get the dog into heel. Then, I would transition back to front with another pivot (of myself). Sometimes showing the dog the bigger picture of where the training is going can be very effective in building desire for the task at hand, especially if your dog is really a thinker.

 

In a case where the handler finds heeling boring, I do recommend using music. It doesn't matter if you never plan to do Freestyle, and I'm not talking about dancing. Heeling to music has a different feel than heeling without music. It can add interest for both dog and handler, it can help relax both dog and handler, and it can just make the whole thing more enjoyable.

 

Heeling should be enjoyable for both dog and handler. Yes, it's a discipline. Yes, it takes careful work and training to learn to do it well. But it can still be an enjoyable process.

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OK, once you have absolute focused attention at a standstill while in heel position WITH distractions you can get to moving!! You need to have a release word which you will establish when teaching stationary attention. Start by heeling a few steps rewarding IN the CORRECT spot, release and play! Don't reward so much with treats after you release you want to jackpot and reward with food while the dog is in correct position, play or tug after the release!

 

When you do start moving moving at a swift pace is key! Top competitors do ALOT of circle owrk when teaching the heel when you get moving. Draw as accurate a large diameter circle as possible with chalk. We take a pole with a string attached, have someone stand in the middle of what will be the circle and the other trace the line of the circle. Always start working your dog on the outside, you on the inside of the circle. This builds the dogs drive and gets a lovely gait going. You want to MOVE FAST! Encouraging the dog to drive with your voice, rewarding the dog IN THE CORRECT position and breaking and playing! When your dog and you have mastered the outside put the dog on the inside!

 

You DO NOT want to practice heeling with the dog out in front of you, you do not want the dog to focus on the front of your body when heeling! Trust me, this caused huge problems later on!!! I know people who have battled a lifetime of forging in the dog in competition becasue they made the mistake of teaching the dog to either focus on there face or somewhere on the front of there body! Working the circle helps the dog get comfortable with a heeling pace and will help the dog "find" his own focus spot somewhere on the side of the body to look.

 

Root Beer has a good sudjesting of practicing heeling to music and this can be a great way for the handler to get a rythym going! The dog and handler need to learn to be in sync which is why the circle is so helpful. It's sustained heeling where you don't have to worry about turns or stops yet, the dog and you can get in a rythym and the dog most importantly can find where he is most comfortable focusing on the handlers body.

 

Another note, when it comes to teaching SUSTAINED attention for competition work I highly recomend seeking advice from seasoned succesful competitors who have achieved a high level of work. I have the feeling that this thread IS NOT refering to such work so thats why I am giving some simple sudjestions. Everyone is entitled to give there own advice of course, but seeking out info from someone who has used methods that have been PROVEN in competition to work is what people who are looking to compete should look for...

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You DO NOT want to practice heeling with the dog out in front of you, you do not want the dog to focus on the front of your body when heeling! Trust me, this caused huge problems later on!!! I know people who have battled a lifetime of forging in the dog in competition becasue they made the mistake of teaching the dog to either focus on there face or somewhere on the front of there body!

 

Interesting perspective. For us, in order to succeed at the high levels, our dogs must master working with duration and focus in front, heeling on both sides, and work behind us. The more precise and smooth the transitions from one side to another, the higher the scores become.

 

To omit front work early on would be extremely detrimental down the road when work on 4+ sides of the handler are needed.

 

Of course, if someone doesn't want to move past Beginner or Novice, teaching the dog to work on just the left and right sides might be adequate. But for anyone who wants to succeed at the high levels (Intermediate and beyond), teaching the dog to work fluently in front early, with focus on the handler's face, or front of his or her body, is a critical foundation skill. Just as critical as solid heel and right heel work. And, the often overlooked foundation skill - work behind the handler. That's a challenge!

 

This may not relate to the OP, just discussing front work in general. It is not something that I would ever omit from my dog's early foundation because it would actually cause big problems down the road. And I'm not claiming this on my own authority. Trainers at the very top of the sport always emphasize how critical it is to the four positions solidly as part of the dog's foundation. And I have found this to be true.

 

Different type of heelwork, different perspective. :rolleyes:

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I would just like to clarify that RB is talking about freestyle dog dancing, NOT competitive obedience which I am. I am aware for the sport of freestyle, that as part of the performance dogs need to heel on all sides of the handler plus do lots of other "showier" moves. As in agility it is necessary to teach the dog to be on both side of the body. Obedience work is focused on the left side in heel position.

 

Of course the dog perfoming "fronting" exercised is critical and absolutely a part of teaching in competitive obedience. It is incormorated JUST as much as heeling into training but in a different context. When teaching the front you WANT the dog cueing and looking at your face and do all kinds of exercised to incorporate that when teaching the front, but NOT when teaching the heel. We do what you would call some heeling backwards when teaching the front but it is not called a heel or part of heeling training it is associated with teaching a front and you are using a front or come command.

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And FYI, the methods I am describing come not from me but highly respected trainers/competitors one of them winning the National Obedience Championship many other top ranked, and many having top ranked border collies. Methods and info that has taken people years and years to proof and perfect.

 

I only post what I have learned here NOT to disprove others ideas but because I feel obligated to pass on this info to others who are actually interested in competing or who are open to listening to methods that have been proven hugely succesful.

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