3 Ways to Train An Impressive Heel

3 Ways to Train An Impressive Heel

3 Ways to Train An Impressive Heel

Teaching a dog to walk on leash seems to be one of the most difficult behavior for owners to accomplish with their dogs and it shouldn’t have to be. When it comes to walking the dog, the emphasis is on rewarding the dog for walking on a loose leash. This leaves a lot of wiggle room for where the reinforcement should be. Is it when the dog is in front, behind, or next to you? Perhaps it’s when the dog is crossing behind or in front of you? If we teach the owner how to train a heel we are conditioning them to look for a specific position which can help them be better with their timing and reinforcement.

3 Options To Teach Your Dog How To Heel

Utilize Your Surroundings To Limit The Dog’s Choices

Training Positive utilizes a wall and a chair to help position the dog into a heel. The heel in this instance is on the right but ultimately the heel is more of the dog’s position in relation to you, so it can be on the right or the left. You can teach your dog to heel for the left side and label the right side something different so that you have a dog that can walk on either side of you. Training Positive shows the small steps and the patience it takes to use the lure, to just the hand signal, and fading out the hand signal to just a verbal cue.

Start With A No-Motion Heel Position

K9-1 starts out by beginning with a stationary work luring the dog back into position while giving the heel command. Once the dog is reliably targeting the general location just behind your left leg K9-1 trainer starts adding only 1 step to the process, keep it short and sweet. Gradually she begins to increase her movement and as that improves also starts to reward in intervals. K9-1 discusses how to troubleshoot if your dog falls out of the heel, how to get them back into it, and then also the importance of having a release cue to allow your dog to exit the heel position which is very important.

Teaching Heel With Platforms

With the use of 4 square mats with the handler standing in the middle of them, this trainer, Stonnie Dennis, utilizing targeting of mats to teach his dogs what position he wants them in. He uses positive reinforcement and emphasizes the importance of if the dog does his part then we need to be certain to do ours and reward the dog using food or toys. Stonnie also puts emphasis on repetition and putting in the work to achieve the proper heel position. For the handler that wanders too much when teaching the heel, you utilize the mat for them, to ground them to one spot, and have the dog rotate around them.

Have you used other tricks to teach your dog to heel?

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Other articles you might find useful when teaching a dog to walk on leash.

5 Tools To Aid Loose Leash Walking

5 Tools To Aid Loose Leash Walking

5 Tools To Aid Loose Leash Walking

As discussed in a previous article, helping clients teach their dogs to walk nicely on a leash can be a struggle.  But there are some tools available that can help your clients manage their dogs and make walks more pleasant while assisting with loose leash walking.

Front Clip Harness

Harnesses are wonderful for keeping pressure off of a dog’s delicate and injury-prone neck area. However, to make a pulling dog easier to walk, you want to make sure the harness clips in the front, at the chest, not at the back.  Having a front clip harness can make loose leash walking easier because when the dog pulls, the front clip swings the dog around to face you which keeps them from getting a lot of leverage.  The most popular front clip harness is probably the Freedom Harness by 2 Hounds Design.

Waist Leash

It is remarkably frustrating for your clients to have their arms yanked around while walking their dogs. Hand-held leashes can actually hinder loose leash walking a bit because there is no set length for the dog to learn to work within; the leash is perhaps 6′ long when the arm is at the side, but when the dog pulls they can gain another 18-24″ from the arm getting yanked!  A good waist leash can provide consistency for the dog to aid in their loose leash walking skills while keeping your clients safe.  Not only do their arms not get jerked around because the leash is around their hips, if the dog does lunge they are much less likely to get pulled over because the leash is at their center of gravity.  A good waist leash that is safe enough for even the strongest dogs is the Dog-Safe Hands-Free Leash by Blue Dog Training.

Target Cue

A very simple hand targeting cue that has been heavily reinforced can make loose leash walking much more attainable.  When your client’s dog starts getting close to the end of the leash, they can cheerfully request a target and the dog will come back and bop their hand.  When rewarded for this frequently enough, the dogs will learn it might just be easier to stay closer in case their owner decides to cue them again.  Most dogs think hand bopping is great fun!

Large Safely Contained Area Or Long Line

Having access to a fully enclosed field or tennis court has multiple benefits when it comes to loose leash walking.  Your clients can allow their dogs off-leash safely to run some of the crazies off before going on a more structured walk.  Or they can stroll around the field and reward heavily when their dog comes by them.  This creates a dog that loves being around its owner!  If the area is not 100% safely contained, a long line can provide the same benefits.  Sturdy 50′ lines can be made very inexpensively from items at any large home improvement store.  Remember – a 50′ line actually gives the dog 100′ of running room, plenty to allow the dog to zoom off some of that energy.

Clicker And Treats

These are counting as one “tool” because they are a set.  Though all the above tools will make loose leash walking more comfortable for your clients, you still want to show them how to use their clickers and treats to train an actual loose leash walking behavior with their dogs, not just manage it. Management is great.  Training is better.

What tools have you found that help your clients manage comfortable loose leash walking?

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3 Approaches to Teaching Loose Leash Walking

3 Approaches to Teaching Loose Leash Walking

loose leash walking

Loose leash walking.  *insert ominous music*  Sometimes teaching loose leash walking to clients can feel like the bane of every dog trainer’s existence.  It’s not that the skills needed are difficult.  No, it’s the consistency and patience that are required that can make it so tedious.  So, as a modern dog trainer, what are some ways you can help teach loose leash walking to your clients?  Here, we’ll examine three videos that may be of benefit.

“Polite Walking On Leash” by Ines Gaschot

loose leash walkingThis first video shows how starting simple can make such a big impact.  Ines starts on the porch with her dog, Loker, simply clicking and treating for a loose leash while working in a small, relatively low distraction location.  Ines illustrates how to increase difficulty via distractions and duration of behavior.  She then does some troubleshooting for forging and offers alternative ways to reward dogs (changing up treat delivery, sniffing breaks, etc).  She offers helpful tips at the beginning and end of the video.  This video is fantastic due to its simplicity.  It will be easy for your clients to grasp this concept and put it into play, even after you are gone.

“Clicker Training Loose Leash Walking” by Casey Lomonaco

Casey’s approach to loose leash walking is to emphasize the placement of treat delivery.  Careful and consistent treat placement means the dog learns that being beside the owner is a Very Good Place to be.  She starts slow, just standing in one place.  She then begins pivoting 90 degrees each time to encourage the dog to start moving into position.  After the dog is confidently doing that, she begins taking large single steps, changing direction frequently.  To introduce longevity into the loose leash walking, Casey uses the “300 Peck” method.  By the end of this short video, her puppy, Cuba, is politely offering loose leash walking even though he is off leash.

“How Do I Teach My Dog Not To Pull On Leash?” by Kevin Duggan

Kevin takes a different approach from the two videos above.  His method is incredibly useful for dogs that aren’t as food motivated, or dogs that are in a highly distracting area.  He teaches the dog that all forward movement stops if the leash gets tight.  He then turns and goes another direction (“penalty yards”), teaching the dog that pulling towards a desired object actually makes it go further away.  Kevin uses his voice as praise a great deal, some treats, and also a toy that his dog desires.

 Conclusion

These videos all are highly simple and effective even though they use three different methods.  Your clients will all have different learning styles, so being able to offer them several options for teaching this skill will ensure they have success.

What other methods do you like to use to teach your clients loose leash walking?

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