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Archive for April, 2010

Heeling Week 1 Day 4

I skipped day 3 so sorry! On Day 4 my goal is still trying to get that perfect position. The problem is the rear end of the dog swings wide and so they wind up being crooked. Now image you start walking with your crooked dog, what happens? You bang into each other or he stays out of position. Neither are good for heeling. The perfect position is what we are after and teaching the dog to find that perfect position is the goal of week one.

So, if you are having issues, you have to implement something to fix it. You can use ring gates or a box – my choice is a box. Especially since we will use the box for more things later.

With Blaze, I’ve worked on putting his front feet on the box, just never at my side. I did the same thing, tossed the treat back and called to heel (I’m using “get close”) and click when the two front feet are up on the box. I’m standing at the right position to get him lined up perfectly with me. Now that we have the box I can begin to angle the direction of the toss to try to help him figure it out. If he messes up I say uh oh and try again.

With Nitro he had never used a box but he got the concept quickly. I found when I toss the treat to the side, he gets confused and comes around to the front. The goal is to get the rear legs moving laterally. The best heeling dogs have a nice head up and back legs that move! When he would come around front I would use his no reward marker (uh oh) and try again.

Another trick i’m using is to use two different types of treats, a yummy one, and a cheerio. Toss the cheerio (less interesting) and reward with the higher value treat when they return.

Heeling Week 1 Day 2

The goal for week 1 is to still get that perfect heel position but also to get the dog to “find” the position on their own. Sure you can lure your dog into heeling position but does that mean they really understand it? Probably not.

Blaze (the puppy) is having trouble getting straight – so I need to use either a box for him to put his front feet on or gaits (or a wall) to get him coming in straight. I also am tossing the treat slightly to the right behind me and rewarding in the position I want him.

Nitro is doing better than Blaze – but he has a history of heeling. I toss the treat back, say “get it”, then I say “Nitro get close” and as he comes in I click when he gets to where I want him and reward in front of his face so his head is straight which keeps his body straight. Since he is doing well I can vary where I throw the treat (always behind me though).

The goal – fun, short, specific things to train for!

Heeling in 6 weeks: Week 1 Day 1

I have a theory that dogs can heel but they need to be taught very specific things. I’m testing this theory out on my own dogs and hopefully some of you will try it and give your feedback.

So for week 1 the goal is to teach the dog to find that place. There is a game we use when teach recalls which makes it really fun, the dog chases food, goes through your legs, its high energy, its fast and it builds drive. So why not use the same concept with heeling. Initially we can’t just start out running around having our dogs catch up to us, but we can use a fun game that encourages the dog to find our left side.

Heeling in 6 weeks Week 1 Day 1

Start with two treats (and a bag full of treats to grab from somewhere on your body). Put the two treats in your left hand, place the hand on your belly (as you would if you were heeling). Lure the dog to your side, click, (or say yes) and then toss the treat behind you. The trick to this game is all in the toss. By throwing it in the right direction your dog will likely line up nicely.

With blaze my puppy I had to angle the treat back slightly about 6-8 feet behind me. Then I called his name and placed my hand down as a target to give him another treat. After a few repitions I could stop placing my hand down and I could keep it up on my belly button. When he got to me I clicked and gave him a treat in the exact position I wanted him. For my dogs I like to turn their heads forward so they are straight when they get the treat. After a few minutes I could begin to vary the position I was throwing the treat – always keeping it behind me.

With my larger dog Nitro, he would get confused and come to my front I would just say uh oh, take a few steps, then readjust myself and toss the treat back again.

The keys to this game:

1. Feed your dog in the heeling position exactly as you want them
2. Stand as though you are heeling while the dog is getting the treats
3. Keep two cookies ready so you can move the game along quickly.

Fading off the lure

When you typically teach a dog to lay down you use a lure to get them down to the ground. The problem then is you have taught your dog that in the visual cue for laying down is you putting your hand on the floor. In order to teach your dog to lay down while standing up you have two options, the first is to ask for the down using the lure about 10 times, then stand there and wait. If your dog lays down, reward him with the food.

The second options is to fade out the lure by slowly raising your hand each time. See my video for how I demonstrated this with my 4 month old puppy.

Keep my dog off the couch

You walk in the door, and there your sweet dog is, cuddled up on the couch enjoying their new soft spot. So the question is, how do you keep your dog off the couch? It isn’t hard to break the habit but requires consistency.

Usually a dog will try to get on the couch when they are tired and ready to go to sleep. Watch for those times they are starting to look for a good spot because that is going to be your best bet and stopping this behavior. If they go to jump up, just say off and take them by the collar and lead them off the couch. Most dogs will eventually give up and stop trying. If you have a more persistent dog maybe put them in their crate so they can settle down and go to sleep. If you have to leave your dog unsupervised either put them somewhere away from the couch or use their crate.

If your dog growls when you try to move them, you will want to teach off without pulling your dog. Take a treat and lure them off the couch and say “off” then reward them with the treat. Over time you can just say off and then reward for getting off the couch. You can even guide your dog with the collar and feed them at the same time so they get used to you using their collar. If you sense your dog is becoming more aggressive we highly recommend you find a dog trainer to help you with the problem.

Another option is to have your dog wear a 6 foot leash around the house connected to a buckle or flat collar. When your dog jumps up just use the leash to get them back down, always reward them and praise them for getting off the couch.

The next two things you want to teach are leave it and a place command. Leave it will teach the dog to not get on the couch in the first place and place will be an alternative location you can have your dog go to settle down.