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Teaching to Heel off lead?

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by mufti, May 24, 2010.


  1. mufti

    mufti PetForums Junior

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    Hi All,

    Just wondering what is a good way to teach my boy to stay at my side and heel off leash? he walks pretty perfectly on leash and will stay close to me with food off leash. Just wondering how to make it reliable and or what's the best way to go about training it? and what I can and can not expect in terms of 100% reliability to stay at my side off leash :D

    Thank's
     
    #1 mufti, May 24, 2010
    Last edited: May 24, 2010
  2. Colette

    Colette PetForums VIP

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    The puppy classes we took Solo to trained heel without using the leash (although the dogs were on leash at the time - she made us hold the leash on the other hand so we couldn't force anything).

    First step was luring the dog into position with treat. Get to dog to walk roundbeside you so he ends up in the "heel" position, looking up towards you (and the treat).
    As he gets into the correct position, click and treat.
    Repeat until the behaviour is understood, then introduce the cue, then stop using lure and use cue only.

    At this stage "heel" simply means "be at my side, in this position". It is currently only a stationary position, no different to a "sit".

    Once it is fully understood and on cue, you can give the cue and take a step forward. The dog should move with you, in position. Click and treat.

    Continue, gradually increasing just a few steps at a time, until eventually you get to the point the dog will walk at heel until you say otherwise.

    It is worth remembering that walking to heel is not the same as walking on a loose leash. For informal leash walking most people just want the dog to be on a loose leash - nothing more. It is the leash that is the indicator - loose leash good, tight leash bad. If you use the cue "heel" for loose leash walking, use something else, eg "close" for the off leash heel.
     
  3. Sleeping_Lion

    Sleeping_Lion Banned

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    If you look at gundog training, this is nothing like obedience or working trials, and loose leash heelwork is absolutely acceptable. I never ask mine to be wrapped round my leg with heelwork, just for a loose lead. When you think about the job of a gundog, and where they may need to be at heel, they can't always be at heel depending upon terrain and cover. Some view it differently as to whether it's a benefit for a dog to be slightly ahead, or behind, personally, I like a dog to have it's shoulder against my knee, whether it's on or off lead.
     
  4. Fleur

    Fleur Vassal to Lilly and Ludo

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    Lilly walks 'with me' as we call it beautifully off lead - put a lead on her and she practically chokes herself :rolleyes:

    I would never 100% rely on off lead walking - its great to teach - especially when off lead and I need her to walk close because of children, bikes or other on lead dogs.

    I trained both on lead and off lead with treat rewards - it appears that Lilly prefers listening when she's off lead ;)
     
  5. tripod

    tripod PetForums VIP

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    I love playing follow me! Basically do the opposite to the dog - she speeds up you slow down, she goes right you go left. Start by tossing a treat a little way away for two steps with you, then three steps, then four steps and so on.

    I also like to play 'choose to heel' with a tug toy. Start by walking in a large, wide circle and just walk. If the dog chooses to stay with you click and produce the tug toy. Have a tug round for a few seconds and then walk again.

    Practice with a line dragging and then as she progresses a light line (a puppy leash for example) and then free :)
     
  6. mufti

    mufti PetForums Junior

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    Thank's guys :) But how can I get him to stay reliably by my side and not run ahead or off if he get's bored/see's something more interesting?
     
  7. Sam1309

    Sam1309 PetForums VIP

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    when walking parents dog off lead to heel i have my hand by side, and expect his nose between my two fingers (i make an upside down v sign) he's good at this.

    our goldie who was a rescue and a trained gun dog would have walked under your feet given half the chance
     
  8. RAINYBOW

    RAINYBOW PetForums VIP

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    It takes ages to train it, when he is "accidently" trotting by your side (i use the opposite side to heel) say "close" and treat then the key is to use a release command after the treat eg "off you go" and gesture him away. Basically you gradually build up the length of time he trots beside you before you release him. Then you can incorporate a recall into it so you might call the dog "here", say "close" and then "off you go" when they can be released. I do throw in the odd "sit" "stay" too to keep him guessing.

    It is a very useful command for in a busy park with lots of people and bikes :)

    Never do this anywhere potentially dangerous eg along the road :scared: I don't care how bomb proof a dog is i hate seeing them off lead near a road :frown:

    I saw some people walking a JRT PUPPY OFF LEAD down my street the other day, i nearly died :scared: It could only have been one of his first walks :eek:
     
  9. mufti

    mufti PetForums Junior

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    Thank's Rainbow :) Is there any reason you use the opposite side to heel?

    I.E I was going to teach heel means come to my left and while walking stay close means well stay close lol.
     
  10. RAINYBOW

    RAINYBOW PetForums VIP

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    I like it to be a totally seperate command so heel is always left and on lead and close is always on the right. Just my preference. I have found it easier to teach having him right up against my leg focussed on me and the reward rather than just in my proximity as Oscar is too easily distracted.

    While teaching him this i only ever practiced it in low excitement environments when i know he wouldn't fail. To start with i would just do it 2 or 3 times during walk and gradually increased the amount of time i made him walk beside me before releasing him. The release command is very important because it tells the dog "i want you here until i say you can leave" because obviously you don't have the restraint of the lead. If i saw another dog coming i would try and release Oscar before he saw it so that he didn't "fail" because in the early days that was just too much temptation.

    It's such a useful command. Wish i could make him walk to heel as nicely as i can make him walk "close" :rolleyes:
     
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