handlers position/how it affects the dogs -attn heal

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Postby Malli » April 8th, 2009, 7:15 pm

I have problems with Oscar creeping forward while off leash in the attention heal

I noticed the other day that if I turn my upper body more towards him that he holds his position at my knee much better...

is this common?

And if this helps him hold his position, how do I work from that into facing forward and still have him keep his place.

Oddly, he keeps his position moreso when on leash...
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Postby pocketpit » April 8th, 2009, 8:40 pm

It's very common :) You will probably have to go back to the beginning stages of training the heel for a short period of time while you adjust your body position and your dog gets used to the new routine. Concentrate on keeping your upper body straight while rewarding for proper heel position. Start with a small amount of steps at a time until things begin to come together. That's what I would do anyway.
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Postby katiek0417 » April 8th, 2009, 10:19 pm

What are you rewarding with and how are you rewarding?

One thing I do to "fix" forging (what you're describing) is making several turns into them...exaggerating the turn and bringing my knees up high so the dog learns to avoid my knees...the dog will learn that in order to avoid being kneed, it has to stay in the proper position...

But tell me how you're rewarding, and what you're rewarding with...
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Postby Malli » April 9th, 2009, 4:13 am

ah, so thats what forging means :)

He gets a variety of rewards; he'll now respond to verbal and physical praise quite well, and typically at the end of a session (I try to keep them 5-10 minutes) he'll get fetch, sometimes I mix in short tosses of the ball (though usually he gets so amped up that it'll actually make his performance worse - I find that if I carry the reward toy that this happens), or treats, lately.

we've been doing a lot of "back to basics" and doing treats. I've been trying to work on some easier and simple distance stuff that he's never been good at and his recall, so, since its never been good, I treat for every positive distance response (leave it type things and "trade" for things he shouldn't have), and every good recall. And, since I've already been doing lots of work with treats, I've mixed those in with the heel (I just realized I spelt heel wrong in the topic :doh: ).

I find now that Oscar really enjoys the formal heel and working with me, what I have trouble with is communicating the little things(well, thats how I see it, like a "finishing touch") like position - I can't figure out how to show him and THEN he gets frustrated.

We also have trouble with about turns to the left, or towards him, again, really, its to do with position. :rolleyes2: I've tried raising my knees, but honestly I'll actually knee him - and even when I do, he doesn't really pick it up, he gets kneed :| I think the problem is that he's not the type of dog that gets upset if someone gets in his space or if someone walks into him by accident, if he gets bumped, he doesn't care :|
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Postby katiek0417 » April 9th, 2009, 5:04 am

If I remember correctly, you use a pinch collar with him? I'm sorry if I'm mis-remembering - it's early...

It can take someone, literally, years to get a perfect off-leash attention heel....

Have you tried to use corrections and food to keep him in the right position?

I would go back to basics....work on 1-2 steps at a time if you have to. Use food to reward. What type of food are you using? Is there anything you can use a food reward that you could spit to him from your mouth (and have him catch it)? Of course, this adds a training step if he doesn't already know how to catch it...however, I have found that if you take the food out of the picture, and keep it hidden (even if you have it in your hands, Os is likely to be able to smell it). What hand do you hold the food in now?

Also, when you reward, do you stop first so he is sitting? Or, do you reward while you are walking?

If you take the 1-2 steps, reward him...and remember to reward ONLY for the correct position...if he's the least bit crooked and you reward him, he THINKS that is the position you are looking for!

Finally, keep in mind that some dogs inevitable forge :doh: Just the fact that you are able to do an attention heel (even if not perfect) is something that should be commended!!!!!
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Postby BritneyP » April 9th, 2009, 10:31 am

^ What she said. :wink: :mrgreen:
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Postby Malli » April 9th, 2009, 2:20 pm

I have treats that are called Medi-treats (they are Hypo-allergenic), I usually break them up, and I keep them in a treat pouch that clips on my belt for easy access (training pouch?). I did try heeling with one in my teeth the other day and got excellent eye contact :giggle: worked like a hot dang!

I've tried corrections, but I find they really frustrate him. I think its because he's not clear on what to do, because when I use corrections in other aspects of training that are clearer, I don't get the same response. I've also noted that multiple corrections(maybe say 10 or more) in a session really shut him down. He probably gets his frustration from me(not literally, but I'm known to be easily frustrated too) :rolleyes2:

Are there some dogs that just aren't as detail oriented?

Oh, I can for sure say its taken me years to get this far!

thanks :)
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Postby Malli » April 9th, 2009, 2:23 pm

Oh, I've been stopping and releasing and rewarding, but I'm thinking that it would be pretty difficult for him to mark what he's done if I don't reward him while we're still in motion, huh? That was a bit of a head smack moment.
The stupidest part is the person that originally taught me the attention heel taught it this way. Idiot.
I can only please one person per day. Today is not your day, tomorrow doesn't look good either.
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Postby katiek0417 » April 9th, 2009, 5:15 pm

Malli wrote:Oh, I've been stopping and releasing and rewarding, but I'm thinking that it would be pretty difficult for him to mark what he's done if I don't reward him while we're still in motion, huh? That was a bit of a head smack moment.
The stupidest part is the person that originally taught me the attention heel taught it this way. Idiot.


lol...okay...so, yeah...you should treat him WHILE he is walking...he needs to learn that the position while walking is just as important as the position when he's stopped...

You can do it either with food (give him a treat while you're walking) or toss the ball and release him at the same time while you are walking...but remember that whenever you reward him you are marking the behavior that immediately preceded the reward. So, if you stop, then release/reward, you are marking that behavior...if you release/reward while you are walking, then you are marking that behavior...
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

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Postby DemoDick » April 9th, 2009, 6:23 pm

Whatever you do, don't use body language to get him into proper position. I'd use a mirror to make sure that my shoulders were squared and that I was rewarding independant of my body position.

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Postby Malli » April 10th, 2009, 3:59 am

I may be tired, but I can't think off the top of my head why? Is it like a bad habit?

I can definitely understand the part rewarding for correct position because, thats obviously what I want for my end result.
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Postby katiek0417 » April 10th, 2009, 11:43 am

Malli wrote:I may be tired, but I can't think off the top of my head why? Is it like a bad habit?

I can definitely understand the part rewarding for correct position because, thats obviously what I want for my end result.


Getting ready to head to class...I'll post on this later :)
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Postby DemoDick » April 10th, 2009, 11:47 am

Malli wrote:I may be tired, but I can't think off the top of my head why? Is it like a bad habit?

I can definitely understand the part rewarding for correct position because, thats obviously what I want for my end result.


The dog will end up waiting for your physical cue in combination with the command to get into position instead of relying on the verbal command only. It's subtle at first, but when you find yourself unable to cue the dog with your shoulders, you'll run into problems. This can get quite extreme in the case of some competition dogs, where they will only heel properly as long as the handler is wearing the "correct" training vest full of treats, "marching" appropriately, has the "correct" leash in the "correct" hand, turns on a dime in a perfect 90 degree fashion, etc. In my opinion, if the dog needs that much help, he doesn't know how to heel.

I like to teach that heel is a position for the dog to assume that has nothing to do with my body position or what I may be doing. I teach the dog to get into heel when I am seated in a chair, standing on a raised platform, carrying various items, etc. For movement, I will heel the dog while doing various turns, walking backward, traversing obstacles, and performing a running sidestep. Once the dog understands that heel is a position relative to my leg and has nothing to do with anything else that I may be doing, he gets it.

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Postby TinaMartin » April 10th, 2009, 12:50 pm

Thank you Demo thats good practical info and gives me LOTS of home work to use with Gator.
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Postby katiek0417 » April 10th, 2009, 1:48 pm

DemoDick wrote:
Malli wrote:I may be tired, but I can't think off the top of my head why? Is it like a bad habit?

I can definitely understand the part rewarding for correct position because, thats obviously what I want for my end result.


The dog will end up waiting for your physical cue in combination with the command to get into position instead of relying on the verbal command only. It's subtle at first, but when you find yourself unable to cue the dog with your shoulders, you'll run into problems. This can get quite extreme in the case of some competition dogs, where they will only heel properly as long as the handler is wearing the "correct" training vest full of treats, "marching" appropriately, has the "correct" leash in the "correct" hand, turns on a dime in a perfect 90 degree fashion, etc. In my opinion, if the dog needs that much help, he doesn't know how to heel.

I like to teach that heel is a position for the dog to assume that has nothing to do with my body position or what I may be doing. I teach the dog to get into heel when I am seated in a chair, standing on a raised platform, carrying various items, etc. For movement, I will heel the dog while doing various turns, walking backward, traversing obstacles, and performing a running sidestep. Once the dog understands that heel is a position relative to my leg and has nothing to do with anything else that I may be doing, he gets it.

Demo Dick


Excellent post! I view "heel" as a position: be at my left side, with your neck at my knee, looking up at me...not necessarily a movement. If I say heel, it means to be at my left side, always be at my left side, always look at me...REGARDLESS of what I'm doing (like Demo said, moving backward, forward, side-to-side, etc).

That being said, however, 95% of the people who compete in Schutzhund, Ring, PSA, etc do use bodily cues to maximize their points (myself included). Some movements are more subtle than others, and you do get points taken off for the less subtle ones...but these "cheats" have become a "way" for people who compete. I don't want to turn this into a debate of what is right vs. wrong as I have seen both the positive and negative signs to using this method...just saying that it does occur with most dog/handler teams.
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

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Postby Malli » April 10th, 2009, 5:04 pm

That makes sense.
So, do you start with more with more obvious "brain teasers", and work up to the more difficult stuff?
I would think that asking for the heel while sitting would be easier, and that asking for it on a raised platform would be a more difficult concept for the dog to grasp :| Its a bit of "think outside the box" for the dog, I think.

Any tips for showing them how? Or just baby steps?
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Postby katiek0417 » April 10th, 2009, 7:34 pm

Malli wrote:That makes sense.
So, do you start with more with more obvious "brain teasers", and work up to the more difficult stuff?
I would think that asking for the heel while sitting would be easier, and that asking for it on a raised platform would be a more difficult concept for the dog to grasp :| Its a bit of "think outside the box" for the dog, I think.

Any tips for showing them how? Or just baby steps?


You'd be surprised how many dogs when you try to get them to heel when you're sitting, they want to jump on your lap!

But, yes, baby steps...start with easy, and go to hard...

Also, keep in mind that anytime the dog is eye level with you, it will be harder for it to understand to heel...so, sitting in the floor with the dog, having the dog on a platform...Cy will not be on the same level with me (he's rather handler sensitive)
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Postby mnp13 » April 10th, 2009, 10:00 pm

I wanted to see what he would do, so I had Demo let Riggs out of his crate while I was in the living room sitting on the love seat. I called him to heel and once he stopped heeling to Demo :rolleyes2: he jumped up next to me and sat.

When I tell Ruby to heel, she will stop what she's doing and wait for me to put myself in heel position. She actually mostly generalizes the position but doesn't get into it.

Riggs has a flashy, prancy heel but it's a constant forge. Part of that is because he's got such a short body but the other part is just because he forges.

If I twist my shoulders he backs into correct position. I started walking square and using a mirror to check my position - and used a heeling stick to tap him back to where he belongs.

Another way to "correct them into position" is to wrap the leash behind your back so that your leg hits the leash to pull them back. It's hard to get that to be effective though because it turns into looooong nagging corrections instead of quick ones. but it can work.

I found a collapsable heeling stick at Max 200 last year. It's really just a pointer like someone would use at a meeting to point to a screen/white board/whatever. I like it because it is very light and easily hidden so that he's not watching for it.
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Postby Malli » April 11th, 2009, 2:46 am

lets see :rolleyes2: :lol3:

I got...

pawed at
leaned into
climbed on
he brought me his toy
:giggle:

I think he thought I was goofing off :lol3:

once I quit laughing gave him a little helping direction he got it after a few repeats, all in about 10 minutes... so not bad

I got a heel in the kneeling position
apparently with my legs extended was just too much of an invitation to wrastle :| :giggle:
and a heel while sitting at the enormous computer chair, and square to my shoulder or hip (respectively) as well :)

better then I thought it would be, for sure :D
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Postby katiek0417 » April 11th, 2009, 5:52 am

Malli wrote:lets see :rolleyes2: :lol3:

I got...

pawed at
leaned into
climbed on
he brought me his toy
:giggle:

I think he thought I was goofing off :lol3:

once I quit laughing gave him a little helping direction he got it after a few repeats, all in about 10 minutes... so not bad

I got a heel in the kneeling position
apparently with my legs extended was just too much of an invitation to wrastle :| :giggle:
and a heel while sitting at the enormous computer chair, and square to my shoulder or hip (respectively) as well :)

better then I thought it would be, for sure :D


lol @ the first part!

But sounds like you're on a roll! Keep it up!
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

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