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Can anyone give me some help with 'heel'?

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Petloversdigest, Apr 12, 2011.


  1. Petloversdigest

    Petloversdigest PetForums Senior

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    Hi all,
    I would be most gratefyul for some pointers from anyone who has any guidance on heelwork - I have my next training session in 2 weeks time and am making great progress on the recall and sit, down and stay, but I've gone astray with heel. Ollie knows the word and comes straight into the correct position, but if I hang onto the treat he quickly gives up waiting for it (even really high value treats like sausages) and sniffs and generally goes back to walking where he pleases, and if I give him the treat stright away, the same thing happens, he wanders off again. How can I get the timing right so he realises heel is an ongoing request rather than more like a recall to my leg and then off again? I have tried finishing the heel with a sit and then my release word - it hasn't really worked as he still treats them as two separate commands. Any pointers would be grateully recieved - I would like to impress the trainer in a few weeks time on all our successes! :)
     
  2. Petloversdigest

    Petloversdigest PetForums Senior

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    Thank you - this sounds good - do you find the time between giving the treats has extended of its own accord or do you get through masses of treats each training session?
     
  3. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Have you tried reassuring him, with a "you're on the right track" marker, by saying good in calm but pleased happy way?

    When I had problem with impatience & frustration with not immediately getting the reward, leading to trying something else, I would use "good X" and then a little later give the reward. That helped patient settled sits for example.

    For heeling I do like a clicker at first and occasional refreshing; In the beginning I would burn through treats very fast if he stayed heeling, so it was rather rapid fire. Later it would go with us walking along, reward when he caught up in heel position and soon after say happily "good heel", have reward ready give it, may be next time extend a little longer. After a bit, 2 goods before reward, and slowly stretch it out.

    I would try to give the reward in heel position by hand to keep him there (was awkward at first till I got the knack), then if he was still heeling say "Heel!" and get reward ready, feedback with good etc to keep the focus. Otherwise wait till hit the heel position again, even if that meant a break. The point was for that part of the session, he soon got that heeling was the only way to earn the reward. I would also happily accept the "offered behaviour" of coming to heel pffleash on a walk along a path, looking for a treat by volunteering for training, and respond with quick practice session to take advantage of that eagerness. Short bursts, little & often when there was opportunity worked best for us.

    As hawksports posted, I learned to juggle many treats in hands and dispense them from fingers, but I used right hand to refill my left from pouch directly.
     
    #3 RobD-BCactive, Apr 12, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2011
  4. Petloversdigest

    Petloversdigest PetForums Senior

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    Yes, I can see what you are getting at here - I was thinking I had got my timing a bit wrong but I think I must use my voice more too, to encourage him to stick with it for longer. Interestingly, although we haven't managed a sustained heel in the correct position, gnerally walking him on lead is much improved, with less swapping from side to side and much less pulling. I can't figure out how this has happened, as it is not in response to an instruction, but I'm not complaining! :D
     
  5. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    The verbal markers help you naturally progress from food reward. If he gets forward of me, I can say "Back!" to and he slows up, though I can't remember how we taught that!

    What at first treating seemed impossibly clumsy, with practice I could do without changing pace. The dog trains us up to be accomplished treators :)

    Last revision training sesssion I did last week, I rewarded 3 minutes heeling (verbal praise only) with a gentle game of tug. And repeated a few times. It may not sound much, if you think of doing a whole 3 mile walk heeling say, but my dog's mostly off leash, and he's still young enough (12 months) to get easily bored and want to play.

    Interestingly at Agility we have been advised not to practice "Weave" for more than a couple minutes at a time for similar reasons, too much and the dog bores of it and gets put off.
     
    #5 RobD-BCactive, Apr 12, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2011
  6. Petloversdigest

    Petloversdigest PetForums Senior

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    Ollie is probably about the same age (12 months) - at the moment his one game, being a lurcher, is 'chase the bunny' - but I think he will respond well to the praise element as well as the treats - he seems very eager to please.
    Well, I'm off to take advantage of the sunshine and practice my 'treat funelling technique' - thank you Hawksport......:)
     
  7. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    Interestingly at Agility we have been advised not to practice "Weave" for more than a couple minutes at a time for similar reasons, too much and the dog bores of it and gets put off.

    Err yesssss......... Give it a couple of months Rob and then all you'll see is his tail disappearing into the distance halfway round the course with you still on the start line, whatever the obstacle in front of him.
     
  8. Petloversdigest

    Petloversdigest PetForums Senior

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    Thank you for the advice today - this afternoons walk was much more relaxed and I think I had much better timing in my praise and reward giving, and funnily enough I was so fumble fingered with the treats it did eek them out a bit longer while maintaining a good heel position (Ollie probably thinks the benefits of opposable thumbs highly over-rated after watching me struggle to get his liver bits our of my bag!).
    I did a little research a few days ago on the physiology of learning, and it seems pertinent to share here what I read in a physiology text book (human) - there are three levels of adaptation for learning - one very short term, for example like looking up a phone number in the book prior to dialing it, which fades very quickly; next there is a short term memory feedback loop, which keeps the info there a little longer in preparation for commiting to long term memory changes if the information is repeated, and long term learning and memory, where the actual brain synapses and neurons change in a more permanent way to preserve the learning for long term use. This does seem to fit with how we train our dogs, doesn't it....
     
  9. RobD-BCactive

    RobD-BCactive PetForums VIP

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    Good job it has a white bob on the end, very good for spotting at a distance :D
     
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