Fixing Crabbing in an Attention Heel

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Postby maberi » September 29th, 2009, 10:29 am

Obedience is going to be my main focus with Kayden this winter and I've just now started working on the basics of his attention heel. I'm already starting to notice some crabbing in Kayden's heel and want to nip this in the bud before we move on. Is the best way to fix this to just continually practice up against a barrier so he doesn't have the chance to kick his butt out?
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » September 29th, 2009, 10:38 am

Great question - when I do that with Inara I'm constantly tripping over her as she angles in towards me.
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Postby mnp13 » September 29th, 2009, 11:31 am

You can heel up against a barrier to keep his butt in, or try using a lure to have him heel behind you with his head sort of at your butt cheek. Once he's there, bring him forward so that he "slides" into heel position from the back. (sorry, it's hard to describe.)

you need to make him aware of where his back end is, which also sounds weird, but a lot of dogs don't seem to know that there are two other legs back there.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » September 29th, 2009, 12:42 pm

Would you do that by walking them over a ladder or things like that that require them to pick up all four feet individually?
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Postby katiek0417 » September 29th, 2009, 3:24 pm

I agree with putting them against a barrier...

However, what are you using to reward? If it's a toy, what side do you reward from?
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Postby maberi » September 29th, 2009, 3:37 pm

katiek0417 wrote:I agree with putting them against a barrier...

However, what are you using to reward? If it's a toy, what side do you reward from?



Right now I'm using food while Kayden learns what I want. A tug or ball is too high value for him and using these during the learning stages tends to interfere with his thought process.
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Postby mnp13 » September 29th, 2009, 3:43 pm

The only problem with the barrier, though it does work (and I've used it) is that it only shows the dog what not to do. Knowing what not to do is very different than knowing what to do.

What you need to do is teach where heel is, not teach where it isn't.
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Postby katiek0417 » September 29th, 2009, 4:17 pm

maberi wrote:
katiek0417 wrote:I agree with putting them against a barrier...

However, what are you using to reward? If it's a toy, what side do you reward from?



Right now I'm using food while Kayden learns what I want. A tug or ball is too high value for him and using these during the learning stages tends to interfere with his thought process.


How are you using the food? I mean, are you luring him? Are you dropping the food to him? If so, how?

mnp13 wrote:The only problem with the barrier, though it does work (and I've used it) is that it only shows the dog what not to do. Knowing what not to do is very different than knowing what to do.

What you need to do is teach where heel is, not teach where it isn't.


I'm not sure I agree with that. I've used it, and if used properly, it absolutely shows the dog what the heeling position is. However, the problem that most people run into is they aren't using the rewards properly to fully condition the dog. If the dog is rewarded in a certain position, then that's what the dog is learning is correct...in addition, by using a barrier, you're actually using negative punishment. This in conjunction with positive reinforcement will effectively teach the position. However, please note that this is ONLY if the dog is rewarded properly.

And, if you use that in conjunction with what I like to refer to as the box method, then you can very effectively teach the dog the actual position...
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Postby maberi » September 29th, 2009, 4:27 pm

katiek0417 wrote:How are you using the food? I mean, are you luring him? Are you dropping the food to him? If so, how?



Initially I was luring him into position with the food. Now that he understands where he needs to be when we start the heel, I just motion with my hand and give him the heel command (planning on phasing out the hand eventually).

After a few steps (we are very early in our training) I've been treating him from my hand (sometimes the left hand, sometimes the right hand) in position. I had problems with Earl years ago bolting his eyes back from mine to where he thought the food was going to come from, so I'm trying to prevent that with Kayden.

I'll also say I screwed Kayden up a bit because the first year of treating him was done with him sitting in front of me so now he assumes every time I mark a behavior he needs to come in front of me to receive the reward.

Also is the box method shown on Balabanov's "The Game" DVD or is this something totally different?
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Postby katiek0417 » September 29th, 2009, 5:45 pm

maberi wrote:
katiek0417 wrote:How are you using the food? I mean, are you luring him? Are you dropping the food to him? If so, how?



Initially I was luring him into position with the food. Now that he understands where he needs to be when we start the heel, I just motion with my hand and give him the heel command (planning on phasing out the hand eventually).

After a few steps (we are very early in our training) I've been treating him from my hand (sometimes the left hand, sometimes the right hand) in position. I had problems with Earl years ago bolting his eyes back from mine to where he thought the food was going to come from, so I'm trying to prevent that with Kayden.

I'll also say I screwed Kayden up a bit because the first year of treating him was done with him sitting in front of me so now he assumes every time I mark a behavior he needs to come in front of me to receive the reward.

Also is the box method shown on Balabanov's "The Game" DVD or is this something totally different?


What kind of food are you using? I always treat my dogs with them sitting in front of me b/c that's how I teach them to catch food....

I would start teaching Kayden how to catch food from your mouth. This will keep your hands out of the picture entirely, and keep Kayden's eyes on your face (where they should be). I have the dog sit in front, and I use the command "watch me" then the dog gets rewarded for making actual eye contact. And I spit the food down at them...once I move the dog into the heel position, I put a piece of food in my hand and bring it up to my face, to reinforce that I want the dog to watch me, and I say watch me...then I treat the dog for looking up at me.

I don't know if it's the same as what Balabanov has in his video. But basically, I teach heel as a position for the dog to come to no matter where I am. So, if I start with the dog in front, I get him into heel, and I reward. Then I move perpendicular to the dog, and I get him into the heel position, and reward. It's important that the dog is always sitting 100% straight when it gets rewarded. So this way the dog learns that being straight at my left side is the correct position...
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

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Postby mnp13 » September 29th, 2009, 6:48 pm

maberi wrote:I'll also say I screwed Kayden up a bit because the first year of treating him was done with him sitting in front of me so now he assumes every time I mark a behavior he needs to come in front of me to receive the reward.

OH! that's what he kept doing with me last night! it was making me nuts! lol

katiek0417 wrote:But basically, I teach heel as a position for the dog to come to no matter where I am. So, if I start with the dog in front, I get him into heel, and I reward. Then I move perpendicular to the dog, and I get him into the heel position, and reward. It's important that the dog is always sitting 100% straight when it gets rewarded. So this way the dog learns that being straight at my left side is the correct position...

Do you find that you end up having trouble with the dog going straight to the heel position instead of to "front" on recalls? Or do you not train fronts?
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Postby katiek0417 » September 29th, 2009, 7:24 pm

mnp13 wrote:Do you find that you end up having trouble with the dog going straight to the heel position instead of to "front" on recalls? Or do you not train fronts?


I use 2 different commands....

That being said, Cy always comes to heel...but I didn't train him...(I can get him to come to front, but it takes handler help)....

MY dogs (the ones I've trained) come to front if I say "here" and come to heel if I say "fulligan." If I tell them to come to front, I then say "fulligan" to get them to finish in the heel position (and I teach the flip finish rather than the go behind b/c I've seen too many dogs lose points on the finish b/c their dogs stray a bit when they go behind...so I just do the flip b/c there's less room for error)...It just depends on what I tell them to do....they know the difference...
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Postby babyreba » September 29th, 2009, 8:07 pm

We had that problem early on with heeling, and our training director--who is a stickler for "basic position"--had us go back to basic position for weeks to make sure the dog was 100 percent on where he was to be when we started the heel. i would give the command to "fuss" and he wanted the dog's head, neck, shoulders, feet all pretty much in line with my leg and he'd tell me when i could feed. straight down from the shoulder, along the seam of the pants, to the dog's mouth so that the dog never had to move any part of the basic position to get his reward.

once the dog was maintaining and holding basic position intently but calmly, without stomping his feet or shifting around, he let us move in small circles. i think, as i recall, we started in tight, 3/4 turns to the right. each time we stopped, as long as the dog remained in basic, we rewarded. once we got the right turns down, then we started doing pivots to left. same deal--no reward if the dog shifted out of basic, only reward when the dog was in basic position.

once we could turn circles right and left, then we got to take one step forward, stop, reward if dog was in the proper position. we literally had to build on steps--once we had a couple of steps going well, we could add a few more, etc.

it was so painfully boring. but doc knows where he's supposed to be and that he won't get anything if he lets himself swing wide, so he tries to self correct. it's not perfect, but it's better than it used to be. good luck!
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Postby DemoDick » October 1st, 2009, 4:45 pm

I forget, have you done any foundational clicker training with him? This wouldn't take long to fix at all with a clicker.

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Postby maberi » October 1st, 2009, 8:26 pm

DemoDick wrote:I forget, have you done any foundational clicker training with him? This wouldn't take long to fix at all with a clicker.

Demo Dick


Yes, we've done quite a bit of training with the clicker (targeting, focus work, etc..).

I've been working with him quite a bit at home and at the park with heeling. He is definitely starting to understand what I want, we just need a lot more practice, and from there will begin generalizing things with him.

He is the first dog I've had who has a lot of drive and can hold his focus on me in distracting environments assuming he thinks I have a toy. He thinks and moves much faster than I do so I'm learning my timing has to be much better (not good) but I have a good foundation of heeling with Earl and understand the concept.

My biggest problem is phasing out the reward.
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Postby Malli » October 1st, 2009, 10:54 pm

maberi wrote:
katiek0417 wrote:I agree with putting them against a barrier...

However, what are you using to reward? If it's a toy, what side do you reward from?



Right now I'm using food while Kayden learns what I want. A tug or ball is too high value for him and using these during the learning stages tends to interfere with his thought process.



this is Oscar's problem. It all goes to sh!te if a toy is involved.

I have to go back to basics, but I'm not sure if I have the patience :lol3:

I really should get back into it a bit, its fun when we get it.
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Postby furever_pit » October 3rd, 2009, 1:29 pm

katiek0417 wrote:What kind of food are you using? I always treat my dogs with them sitting in front of me b/c that's how I teach them to catch food....

I would start teaching Kayden how to catch food from your mouth. This will keep your hands out of the picture entirely, and keep Kayden's eyes on your face (where they should be). I have the dog sit in front, and I use the command "watch me" then the dog gets rewarded for making actual eye contact. And I spit the food down at them...once I move the dog into the heel position, I put a piece of food in my hand and bring it up to my face, to reinforce that I want the dog to watch me, and I say watch me...then I treat the dog for looking up at me.

I don't know if it's the same as what Balabanov has in his video. But basically, I teach heel as a position for the dog to come to no matter where I am. So, if I start with the dog in front, I get him into heel, and I reward. Then I move perpendicular to the dog, and I get him into the heel position, and reward. It's important that the dog is always sitting 100% straight when it gets rewarded. So this way the dog learns that being straight at my left side is the correct position...


I do both of these things with Dylan and they have worked out really well. I feel that coming into the heel position from different places around me really shows that my dog understands the command. I will say tho that my dog has had some trouble with coming in for the recall and going really quickly into his flip finish for the heel. I think it is due in part to "here" and "heel" sounding very similar so I'm attaching "aqui" as his new front command.

I have also been trying a new technique to teach Dylan where his back legs are...I use a low stool and have Dylan put his front feet on it. I then treat from my center and move around the stool. Dylan has to move his hind end around so that he stays straight in front of me in order to get the reward. I must say that he seems to be much more aware of his back end after having done this a few times. And it has inadvertently improved his flip finish as well, but definitely helped with positioning in the heel. There is a video of it on my youtube page if you want to see what exactly I am talking about.

Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDslB2U_KP4
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Postby maberi » October 14th, 2009, 10:20 am

furever_pit wrote:I have also been trying a new technique to teach Dylan where his back legs are...I use a low stool and have Dylan put his front feet on it. I then treat from my center and move around the stool. Dylan has to move his hind end around so that he stays straight in front of me in order to get the reward. I must say that he seems to be much more aware of his back end after having done this a few times. And it has inadvertently improved his flip finish as well, but definitely helped with positioning in the heel. There is a video of it on my youtube page if you want to see what exactly I am talking about.

Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDslB2U_KP4



I had another individual suggest "perch work" with Kayden for hind end awareness. I just started working with him last night in understanding what I want (front paws on the platform). He is starting to understand what I want and should get it in a few more sessions.

The crabbing has been slowly going away with more practice. We've been doing a lot of work with just understanding where that heel position is.

I was curious how tight you want your dog up against you in the heel position when sitting. I've noticed some handlers have their dogs shoulder touching their leg, while other have a few inches between them and their dogs. Kayden tends to stick his head out to the left away from me so he can see my face (short neck syndrome).
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Postby TheRedQueen » October 14th, 2009, 10:24 am

I've been playing around with Score with the platform (about 2-3 inches with rubber matting) to help with his hind-end awareness. He's very good, but it's a fun thing to do. I've been working on him moving his back legs onto the platform, without getting his front legs on...he's got to back up and put them up. He's really having to concentrate...fantastic! :D
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Postby maberi » October 14th, 2009, 10:28 am

TheRedQueen wrote:I've been playing around with Score with the platform (about 2-3 inches with rubber matting) to help with his hind-end awareness. He's very good, but it's a fun thing to do. I've been working on him moving his back legs onto the platform, without getting his front legs on...he's got to back up and put them up. He's really having to concentrate...fantastic! :D


It will be even cooler when you can take the platform away and get him into a handstand :wink:
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