Monday, 21 January 2019 10:20

Teach Heel for Dog Walking

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Teach Heel for Dog Walking Teach Heel for Dog Walking Teach Heel for Dog Walking

What is Heel Training?
Heel training is a training to make your dog walk beside you. If you have a "leash puller" then you seriously need this training. Heel area is about two feet away from your left hip/leg.

What's heel used for?
Heel used to prevent your dog from pulling the leash; it will make you walk the dog, not the opposite. Not to mention that it will prevent "fear" of breaking someone else property when you walk the dog. So, this training will add comfort for you.

How to teach heel
Heeling is a part of many obedience contests, the meaning of heel is not limited to the dog walks with you on your heel area, but also stop and sit when you stop.

To make your dog know the heel area, "draw" some box in the yard with a stick and told your dog to sit in the area while you standing in your zone. This will make "imaginary" boundary for the dog.

After you finish creating the circle, command the heel, don't forget to use a cue word for the training, most common cue is "HEEL". If your dog comes with you and sit in their box (which is not likely) then praise her with "good heel". But if she doesn’t, point the heel area with your hand and when she inside her box, command "SIT" continued with praise "good heel" (not good sit).

Even after she sits inside her box, she may walk at you again or even distracted with something and walk outside the box. Each time she leaves the box, command heel and re-positioning your dog to her box again.

You may need prong collar (choke collar) for the training if your dog easily distracted. But don't use this on daily life, we don't want to hurt them, and only use this if she gets distracted too much with flat collar.

Walk in Circle
Now after your dog sit, take her for a walk in a left circle while trying to maintain the distance, do this over and over until the dog really understand it.

The key is doing it slowly, because it is not so easy for the dog. If the dog has difficulty following you, or imagine their zone, try to create the circle heel area for the training.

The size of the circle would vary depending the dog personality, a playful dog will need smaller circle because they tend to get distracted easily, then continue the training to bigger circle as the dog understand, but as a start about 7 feet wide circle would be enough.

Now walk the dog with the circle, and try to stop often. If the dog can follow you up to four steps praise her and give some treats. After several times take longer walk and less stop for each circle until she can heel in a full circle.

Watch the Detail on Head
Don't forget about the details. Dog naturally walk with their head facing the ground, this makes them easier to sniff the ground. But not when heeling, we want the dog's head stand up tall and probably watch you so they can follow you when you make a turn.

To make this happens you will need one powerful weapon, it's "treats". Hold some treats in your right hand and while your left hand hold the leash.

Walk in circle and tease the dog with treats but don't allow the dog come too closer. And after each successful circle, give her the treat she deserves and praise with "good heel".

The praise and treat is powerful weapon when it comes to dog training, so give it often. The pitfall is when you walk in small circle while watching your dog's head can make you dizzy, so try to do the training short but often, this routine also prevent your dog from frustration because heel is not an easy training for the dog either.

Correction in the Training
There are two possible corrections in this training, the heel zone and the auto sit.

The Heel Zone Correction
The dog probably has a hard time to understand the heel zone. Every time you take a step or two, try to look at your dog and make sure she is in the correct zone. The dog's head shouldn’t any further then your foot, when the dog advances too much just stop and correct it.

To correct the zone understanding, try to give little snap with the leash and say NO, the command heel again, once she return to the zone give a praise for doing good heel.

The wrong way to teach the heel zone is by pulling off the leash, it will make you "tow" your dog. What we want is they know the zone and follow the zone, not forcing them

The Auto-Sit Correction
This will happens if you use sit command too often during the circle walk. The dog will think that the sit is not the part of the heel, and when you stop walking, they will wait for you to command sit. How to correct it?

While it is not big problem for most people, it stills not a correct heel that we want. So we have to teach her that the sit when you stop is part of the heel.

To correct it starts the walk and slow down a little bit before stops. Then stop but don't command sit, if the dog stop and waiting for the sit command say the correction "NO BAD HEEL" then command "HEEL SIT" if the dogs following then praise her. If not do the walk again. The change command from heel to heel sit and the change corrective bad heel is to re-associate the dog that the auto sit is part of the heel, do this until your dog fully understand the concept.

Testing the Heel Command
Finally, after lots of repetition your dog seems to begin understand the heel command. Now before you go anywhere, you may want to test it, but how to test it? Well, this part of the article is dedicated for that.

Change the Speed
Change your speed as you walk to know whether your dog know the area or not. You can change from fast (your jogging speed) medium (your walking speed) and slow (your slow walking).

Try to walk fast then change it to medium or slow, your dog may confused at first but stay silent. If she can get slower and follow your speed without breaking the zone then praise her. If she realizes you change the speed then take a look at you and return to the zone, praise her. If she makes mistake by continue to walk, correct her and re-command heel.

After she did well in left circle, try to walk straight and see is she already understand and can imagine her zone. Try to do it slowly and correct the zone when she moves too fast.

After she can do the straight walk now, do the zig-zag like walking. Try to make her understand when you turn right she have to speed up and when you turn left she have to slow down a little bit.

Doing zig-zag will require long and wide space, if the space doesn't permit you doing this training, then you can do square walk. Walk in square to the right and walk in square to the left will have similar result as zig-zaging. But don't do right circle, right circle often lead into towing your dog.

Real Walk
Now after she did well in zigzag or square, it's time for real challenge. Take your dog walk around the block with heel command. Try to stop at some stand or chat with some people to check the auto-sit. You can also test the zone by taking random left or right turn each intersection. Make sure your dog is following you, if she forget the zone command heel again and praise then continue the walk.

Real living environment will brings lots of distraction, smell, noise, and people will be the ultimate test whether your dog can live very well in your society or not.

Read 109 times Last modified on Monday, 21 January 2019 10:33

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