Heel command

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Tazwell, Mar 25, 2010.

  1. Tazwell

    Tazwell New Member

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    I want some opinions on this. How do you use your Heel command? I know that Heel is a position... And many people teach it as such. But I've always taught the dogs to go to heel, using a Different command (such as "around") or a lure/signal, then gave the heel command as we begin motion. I had a hard time teaching my first dog that "heel" meant "go to heel and stay there no matter what".

    That was a long time ago, and we're over that-- but that method stuck. How and when do you use that command? How did you teach your dog initially to get into the heel position? I was also wondering what common obedience ring commands and signals were.
     
  2. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    I teach one cue that means to go to heel position, and a separate cue that means walk with me.

    I teach the dogs to go to walk with me at my side way before I teach the cue. In fact, the cue is really not that important to me, I mostly just use it to get their attention and let them know that we're moving or changing direction or whatever. I don't expect them to understand that "heel" means "go to position and stay there," I expect them to understand that walking at my side is a REALLY awesome place to be. So in the end, they don't walk in heel because I told them to heel, they do it because it's highly reinforcing for them (and after a while - with good consistency - it becomes habit).

    To get into heel position? I taught them to touch my hand with their nose and then used my hand as a "lure" to get them into position at my side. I also use a lot of barriers to pattern them into the spot I want them to be and make it easy for them to sit straight.

    To walk in heel position? I just capture it - I walk, and when they happen to come to my side, I click/treat and PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE, and continue to click/treat at a high rate until they decide to leave or I decide to end the session. I practice in a relatively narrow hallway to pattern them to walk close to me, and teach them to back up when I back up (the barriers get them to walk straight) and sit when I stop. If the dog does what I'm looking for, I click/treat; if he doesn't, I walk away. I wait until they'll walk with me with their attention on me 100% of the time, do 180 degree turns with me, walk backwards about 4 or 5 steps when I cue back, and automatically sit when I stop, before I ever put a leash on them. And I still use barriers and high rates of reinforcement for several weeks after starting to use a leash.

    My cue for walking in heel is "let's go" ("heel" sounds abrasive to me... plus it's easier for our clients to use "let's go"). My cue to get into heel position is "close" (I didn't choose it, it's just what our organization has used for many years now). I also use "close" for inside turns, it seems much nicer if the dog understands that we're changing direction rather than having to trip over him. In the beginning I also use hand signals for close - the signal that you happen to do when you're using your hand to "lure" the dog into the spot - but I eventually fade the hand signal completely out and have it on only a verbal cue, because most of our recipients can't do the signal. I NEVER cue the sit when I stop, I just capture it from the beginning.... otherwise I have not been successful at fading the cue.
     
  3. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    I taught "heel" as going around me and into heel position. First I just taught her to stand next to me in position with a touch stick (cause she's small, on a larger dog I'd just use my hand). Then taught her to stay with me while I walked. Then I taught her to go around and stand there, again using the touch stick. Then go around into position and stay with me while I walk. Then I became less helpful with the stick (barely moving it around my back to get her to go around) until I could ditch it.

    Later I taught her to get into heel the other way, all on my left side without going around. I have a different command for that (finish). I tell her "finish" and then say "heel" before I move.

    I know in my friend's obedience class they were taught the going around behind you move into heel position was "finish" and getting into position all on your left without going around was "heel" (so opposite of what I did) but I'm not sure if there is a right and wrong command.
     
  4. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    I use "heel" as a formal, precise position. Both stationary and moving. I use "with me" for just walking on a loose leash. I use the heel command to get my dog into heel position as well as for walking at heel. I only ask for heeling if we're doing a formal training session or if we're in a crowded area where I don't want my dog to have the freedom that a "with me" allows.

    I teach it primarily by muscle memory. I lure it. A lot. Until it pretty much becomes the default place for the dog to be. There are down sides to doing it that way...it can be difficult to get rid of the lure, it can make it difficult to train sit fronts.

    I don't know about common, but I use "heel" for the dog to move with me at heel, I use "wait" when I'm leaving him for a stay or asking him to remain sitting while I throw the dumbbell ;) I use "sit" "down" "stand" as needed for those positions. I use "come" for a recall. "Bring" for retrieves. "Over" for jumping. For finishes, I use "heel" for a flip finish and "bye" for an around finish. "Run" for a send out.

    Some people use "wait" when they leave the dog for a recall or to throw the dumbbell and "stay" for the group stays/stand for exam. Some people use "come" for the first call in drop on recall and "front" to call the dog to a sit front. Some people use "over" for the retrieve over high - I think that varies depending on the dog -- if he's more focused on getting the dumbbell than the jump vs. if he's more focused on the jump. Some people use "high" and "bar" for the directed jumping.

    For signals, I only use them in utility for the signal exercise. The heel signal is kind of a forward sweep of my hand and my thigh...also stepping off on my left foot, which is really all the dog needs, but I do the hand signal so the judge knows I cued him. ;) For the stand at heel, I use my right hand in front of his face, when I leave him on the stand, I use my left hand (again not necessary - stepping off with my right foot is all he needs). For the drop, I raise my hand straight up and then bring it straight down. For the sit, I hold my hand down and about 30-45 degrees away from my body and bring my lower arm up, bending my elbow and also bending my wrist so that my palm is facing the ceiling. For recall, I bring my arm out up parallel to the ground and almost directly in front of me (maybe a slight offset) and then bring my hand to my chest in sort of an arc. For the finish, right or left hand at my waist sweeping from the front to the back.

    Hope that made some sense. :p
     
  5. Maura

    Maura New Member

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    I teach heel to come to my left and sit. We then work it into walking at the heel and sitting when I stop. I don't necessarily teach a precise heel, it depends on the dog. Most people do not walk a little dog at a "correct" heel, so I generally don't teach the fosters a good heel, just basic leash manners. My permanent dog, however, is to maintain a proper heel, even when I turn. We live in the country so we don't practice it much, but it is very useful when we visit town.
     
  6. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

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    I just walk, I don't cue or prompt the dog in anyway...when they offer being at my side...I click...place a treat on the ground at my heel and walk away...the dog has to pause to eat the treat, and then they usually rush to catch up, I click treat again and again...once they get that I start asking for longer and longer duration.

    all my dogs are small which is why I train it this way...otherwise I would teach then to target/follow my hand. Then I mix it up...in the early stages Iam simply rewarding the dog for paying attention to me and following me...so I zip zag, start stop etc...once they have that down, I start to clean it up a bit looking for better positions.

    I capture the auto sit also.


    I don't really "use" it...its just som'thing fun to teach.
     
  7. ihartgonzo

    ihartgonzo and Fozzie B!

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    What are you teaching the heel for? Daily walks, or do you want to teach a formal heel to compete with?

    Just for daily walks... capturing is awesome. Fozzie was a horrendous puller as a puppy. I played be a tree foreveeeerrrr! He would walk loose leash, and he would heel when asked, but I wanted him to seek out the heel position on his own and check back with me even on off-leash walks. I would just click/treat every time he happened to be in heel position, with or without me asking him to. Now, he can be off-leash and heel 90% of the time voluntarily, without any promise of a reward. I have to tell him to go ahead!

    This might work for some dogs who compete in Obedience, but it kind of screwed us over in RallyO/Obedience. Heel became such a normal, casual position that it wasn't a big deal to him anymore. He watches me perfectly but he's a lagger. Awesome on daily walks but not intense enough to do really tight, focused heelwork. I'm in the process of building his drive and the excitement of heeling with me.
     
  8. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    I use "side" for heel because I accidentally taught "heel" as right side lol. That is for formal heeling. "Allons-y" is my command for walking with me.
     

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