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Thread: Sniffing while heeling

  1. #1
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    Default Sniffing while heeling

    I haven't made a post in a while, just working on OB and taking my time, so haven't had many questions. I've been working on heel for about a week and he does very well except he does want to put his nose on the ground while I'm trying to get him to heel right on my knee. I do like how much he uses his nose, I think he has a good smeller on him, haha. But, I don't think he should be doing this while at heel. Usually, I just give him jerks with the collar to get him to stop and pay attention to me and change directions. Any other trick I should do in trying to instill this command. I see on videos where the dog is walking right along side them and ready to sit on an instint. I can tell he is getting closer to this behavior, but looking for ways to put the finishing touch on him I guess. Sorry for the lengthy post on a simple question, but thanks for the advice!

    Pedigo

  2. #2
    Senior Member Leddyman's Avatar
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    Sniffing while at heel is non-compliance. Try picking up the pace rather than nagging the dog. When he stops to sniff take off running. Use a longer rope or leash so that he has time to register that you are going and the POW! you hit the end of the leash. Sudden changes of direction will also help to get his attention on you. When he starts to sniff make a sharp turn and give him a pop if he isn't with you.
    You could try treats to keep his attention on you. Small pieces of cheese torn up hot dogs or bologna work well.
    When you get the desired behavior tell the dog GOOD! When you remove the treat and he wants to sniff say NO! HEEL! and pop the lead. Are you using a pinch or choke collar?
    Patience and perseverance will get it. Don't let him sniff while he is supposed to be heeling.
    Last edited by Leddyman; 10-21-2009 at 10:36 AM.
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    Senior Member windycanyon's Avatar
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    How old is the pup? Does he know his name? Does he know the "Look" or "Watch me" command? Does he know what "Leave It" means? All should be covered in basic obed.

    When mine are v. young, they are first taught focus work. I reward (treat) for looking at my face when I say first their name, then transition that to "Look" (since I use their name to send on marks in the field I want something else to fall back on... but in obedience, the dog's name is also an attention getter if needed and blended w/ the next command, like "DoggyHeel!"). When a pup starts to gawk, I'll say "Look" first, to give the dog the opportunity to avoid the correction they will likely get if they have to be told Leave It. This is important in teaching Stays as well. As soon as that dog's head goes to the ground to sniff, it's good to get on it. Allowing him to do so puts him in charge, not you.

    As for automatic sits, I do this w/ luring at the very first (pulling a treat up over their nose while heeling, and putting them into that sit). After that, they start to figure out your body language pretty quickly. You can raise your left hand a bit to bring the head up, and they start to sit. In obedience, there is also footwork that tells the focused dog when you are going to Halt (or turn, or whatever).

    To me, you are currently nagging him w/ all the pops, etc, and he probably has no idea what is expected. I'd probably not want to work too badly w/ someone who was jerking me around either!

    Anne

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    Senior Member mlp's Avatar
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    When I'm training a dog to heel and this happens, as soon as the pup starts sniffing the ground I go into a reverse heel a slap my chest so the dog looks at me. Then when I have the dogs attention I start heeling forward again.

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    He is 7 months old and he does know his name, whenever I say Mason, he looks, usually no matter what. This makes since, I'll try nagging less and moving faster and changing directions more. I'm not opposed to using food, I mean he's phenominal when I have a treat, which tells me he knows the commands, but I didn't think you were suppose to use treats at this stage of "formal OB". Did I misunderstand?? One more question on heel, sometimes he pulls away or walks too far from my side rather than walking directly next to me. How do I get him back to my side without nagging?

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    If he were to pull away from me to the left, I would quickly make a right turn (maybe 90 degrees) and keep a brisk pace. It sounds like you may be losing his interest. What is your reward system, if any for heeling at this point now that he knows it with food? I like to work my dogs in a little drive, so I transfer to another type of reward (like a toy) and intermittently reward his heeling at this stage in the training process. Others will disagree or use another reinforcer (like +P without getting too technical). Eventually the picture might be good heeling for a 30-40 seconds or more, then a reward. Sometimes you might reward in the first 10 seconds. I like to keep the dog guessing when a reward comes. This keeps his focus on you, which is what you want. If all you do is add punishment for non-compliance, you will have a dog that heels with his ears back and looks miserable.

    Also, I suggest using a pinch collar, properly fitted (not hanging loose). There are references on this forum to sights that show how to do this (e.g. www.leerburg.com). Herm Springer makes the best pinch collars.
    Last edited by munsie; 10-21-2009 at 03:04 PM.

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    Senior Member BrianW's Avatar
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    Fwiw, I think this is where the Mike Gould/Bill Tarrant "power bar" concept shines in teaching heeling.
    You've got the leverage to steer and keep the dog where you want it, until they're conditioned to the proper place/position.
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    Senior Member windycanyon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedigo View Post
    He is 7 months old and he does know his name, whenever I say Mason, he looks, usually no matter what. This makes since, I'll try nagging less and moving faster and changing directions more. I'm not opposed to using food, I mean he's phenominal when I have a treat, which tells me he knows the commands, but I didn't think you were suppose to use treats at this stage of "formal OB". Did I misunderstand?? One more question on heel, sometimes he pulls away or walks too far from my side rather than walking directly next to me. How do I get him back to my side without nagging?
    Someone answered a similar question of mine many moons ago, with something along these lines: "If you went to work, and your boss told you that starting today, all you were going to get was an "atta boy" instead of a paycheck, how long would you keep your work ethic up?". All dogs and people need some kind of reward. We start to "jackpot" them as the dog really begins to understand the basics so maybe they only get rewarded for the most precise response every 3rd or 4th time, so we can wean them off that seemingly constant treat system to get them ring ready, etc. The bird is the reward in hunt tests but I feel that obedience takes a bit more creativity to keep that momentum going. Think Vegas... what keeps your interest at the slots? It's the anticipation of the big ka-ching! Anne (why I don't do Vegas anymore...)

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    Senior Member Colonel Blimp's Avatar
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    Pedigo,

    All of the replies so far offer something, but you need to tie them together and have a plan of campaign in mind and method worked out. Seven months is a bit old to begin heeling ... gently does it.

    The basic premise (as above) is that dogs don't get much out of heeling, to them it's boring and pointless; you need to build in a reward; Munsie is right about the frequency and timing. In the early stages keep the sessions short; twenty yards of good heeling is worth a lot more than half a mile of the other sort. The object is to get him to offer the behaviour we want, not for us to physically drag him into position.

    In teaching the mechanics of heel, timing is of the essence. It's no good hacking at him when his head is already down and he's getting lots of interesting smells up his nose, or he's already as you say got two yards to the side; that's way too late so you need to be quicker than that. Additionally the traditional position of the lead / collar is no great help, placed as it is round the base of neck. When you give a correction with it in that place, you tend to affect his body and shoulders, his strongest part, where he can most easily resist.

    Get a rope slip lead that is fitted with a stop piece. Place the lead immediately behind his ears and secure it in place with the stop. Now when you correct him the effect is much greater on the bit that matters...his head. The lead should be across your front in your right hand (assuming a left side heel) and be just off tight, so that only a very small hand motion is needed to apply the correction. The correction should be just two sharp raps, enough to disturb and annoy him.

    Put your left hand in your pocket; that way you avoid the temptation to physically haul him back. It's up to him to get into the position where he won't get his head waggled about!

    This is now the standard method I teach to handlers in our training group, or at least those who don't clicker train. Personally I find clicker heeling faster, easier and more certain in initially teaching the concept; you don't even need a lead / leash / collar the dog does it all. A bit of reinforcement as above might sometimes be needed but not much.

    Regards

    Eug
    Last edited by Colonel Blimp; 10-22-2009 at 03:54 AM.
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    If your dog likes birds, place one under your arm pit. Focus will be excellent. Reward with dropping bird, bumper, food or whatever straight in dogs mouth.

    Make em work for their meals.
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