Heeling Methods - Heads Up - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
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post #1 of 53 (permalink) Old 12-02-2018, 06:54 PM Thread Starter
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Heeling Methods - Heads Up

What heeling methods have you used to teach your dog what they call "heads up heeling"?


I'm not concerned with prancy feet. If my dog has prancy feet while heeling with his head up, then great, and if not, that's OK, too. I just want the dog to have a very obvious focal point that is NOT my face or my left hand.
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post #2 of 53 (permalink) Old 12-02-2018, 07:24 PM
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This isn't what you asked, but I'm feeling cranky tonight. Obedience is directly derived from field events. A dog heeling in the field with its head up would be worthless. They're supposed to be looking out. I hate the trend to heads up heeling in the obedience ring. The only thing worse is prancy feet.
Ok I'm done. Flame away.



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post #3 of 53 (permalink) Old 12-02-2018, 08:28 PM
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If it helps, this is my ideal.

May be called "heads up heeling" by some (including me), but this is not the same thing as the really unnatural cranked head positions that some out there are doing with dogs. I don't like to see the dogs bent over backwards with their butts dragging on the ground.

How to "train" this gets complicated, because a good CHUNK of what I had with that dog was what he naturally offered right from the time he was a puppy.

If I start walking and he comes running at my side with his head up and heeling close to me - that's what I want + that what I praise and reward and reinforce.

With Jacks that was pretty easy.

Bertie was HARD because he was always forging and jumping up a little and I over used treats to keep him in the game. And that put excess focus on my hand use too.

My Jovi is a lot like Jacks. Not a forgey dog and I'm not having to lead him by the nose with food to motivate focus. Flaring is an issue, but I'll take that since he naturally wants to stay at my side with his head up similar to Jacks. To fix the flaring, we are going to be working a lot of hallway-heeling in the next month, but it's more doable than trying to work with a dog who is less glued in to me.

With all 3 dogs, I used the same first method of teaching heeling. That's using the left hand to target where their faces need to be. That's teaching the heel position. Where the hand is placed targets how high I want their heads. And always rewarding from that spot.

And with Jovi what I hope to do differently with him than I did with Bertie - hopefully getting the hand up across the middle a lot sooner (as soon as I see he's automatically maintaining a spot at my left side) and reinforce/rewarding when he offers the same heel position with my hand being down in his face. I'm starting to do this a little. Every once in a while I'll do a "choose to heel" thing where I take speed walking away from the dogs with my hand over my stomach and typically his cute little face shows up at my left hip for me to go nuts rewarding and praising.

So basically, I'm saying I DO use the "binding" and or "finger target" for initially training heel position. Then over time the focal point becomes the side of my body (shoulders down). In the video below - you can see where my bad habits come from while training new pups. While training heeling, I put a lot of emphasis on my shoulder/arm. It's not just my hand. And all that has to be toned all the way down. Right now I look like a teapot out there LOL.

<= Do turn sound off. My birds are loud.

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post #4 of 53 (permalink) Old 12-02-2018, 09:58 PM
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I have always started with focus 1st, then when you begin healing they look up at you and tune out whatever else is going on. But with Sipsy it turns out she couldn't hold position and look up at me while she walked. So we started over and focused more on the body position of heel and discouraged looking up at me. She's pretty good at heel position but her head is looking straight forward.
In the past I have positioned my hand on my tummy and the bent elbow was a subtle cue to heel... but sips can't see this so I just let my arm hang naturally as we walk and she pays no attention to my hands. But then I would spit goodies at her when she was sitting in the correct position for fronts and stops so there was no reason to look at my hands. As long as you are working together as a team I don't think they care where the head is positioned. Good luck!
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post #5 of 53 (permalink) Old 12-03-2018, 01:03 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hotel4dogs View Post
This isn't what you asked, but I'm feeling cranky tonight. Obedience is directly derived from field events. A dog heeling in the field with its head up would be worthless. They're supposed to be looking out. I hate the trend to heads up heeling in the obedience ring. The only thing worse is prancy feet.
Ok I'm done. Flame away.

I am not looking for IPO style heeling with the butt on the ground and unnatural movement. I agree that a dog heeling in the field has his head forward, but I'm not sure how a dog can offer precision in this position? How do you get a clean left turn with a dog looking out? And, in the field, the dog is looking out because he's splitting his focus on the handler and the field. In obedience, I do not want my dog splitting his focus and attention.
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post #6 of 53 (permalink) Old 12-03-2018, 01:13 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puddles everywhere View Post
I have always started with focus 1st, then when you begin healing they look up at you and tune out whatever else is going on. But with Sipsy it turns out she couldn't hold position and look up at me while she walked. So we started over and focused more on the body position of heel and discouraged looking up at me. She's pretty good at heel position but her head is looking straight forward.
In the past I have positioned my hand on my tummy and the bent elbow was a subtle cue to heel... but sips can't see this so I just let my arm hang naturally as we walk and she pays no attention to my hands. But then I would spit goodies at her when she was sitting in the correct position for fronts and stops so there was no reason to look at my hands. As long as you are working together as a team I don't think they care where the head is positioned. Good luck!

I don't care what "they" think, I just want my dog to be focused. I find that a focus point provides clarity to the dog. Spitting food at them can create an attraction to your face, which causes wrapping, forging, and really rough left turns.
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post #7 of 53 (permalink) Old 12-03-2018, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FosterGolden View Post
I am not looking for IPO style heeling with the butt on the ground and unnatural movement. I agree that a dog heeling in the field has his head forward, but I'm not sure how a dog can offer precision in this position? How do you get a clean left turn with a dog looking out? And, in the field, the dog is looking out because he's splitting his focus on the handler and the field. In obedience, I do not want my dog splitting his focus and attention.
Was gonna say that if you think about there being 5 primary AKC sports -

1. Tracking
2. Conformation
3. Field
4. Agility
5. Obedience

^^^^ The fact is that 4 out of 5, it would not be practically for the dog to be offering complete focus. And of those 4 sports, you could make the point that while you want good connection between the handler and the dog, you never really want the dog looking up at the handler.

Obedience is the one sport where if the dog is a fraction out of place (forging, lagging, flaring, crowding) - you have judges nicking points. Some judges out there (and hey, they happen to be the younger judges who will be around for a while) have very happy pencils and will nick a point every time your dog is out of position.

I also don't completely believe obedience stems from field and needs to reflect the same practices and disciplines in that sport. I think in many cases what is commonly true around us is there's cross over from trainers/dogs from field to obedience (and the other way). But as to the purpose and layout of the sport, maybe I'm wrong, but it was a poodle lady who started obedience. In her case she wanted to show case the abilities (intelligence, trainability, and athleticism) of her dogs and prove that they were more than just looks.

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post #8 of 53 (permalink) Old 12-03-2018, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FosterGolden View Post
I don't care what "they" think, I just want my dog to be focused. I find that a focus point provides clarity to the dog. Spitting food at them can create an attraction to your face, which causes wrapping, forging, and really rough left turns.
I completely agree with this.

For heel position all rewards come from my hip. Or my left pocket (as was the case with Jacks).

I use bait in my mouth for recalls or exercises where I ABSOLUTELY want my dog watching my face. So working attention from front position (which will go into signals and other long distance direction exercises), I am either putting the food in my mouth or "pretending" it's coming from my mouth before rewarding with my pup.

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post #9 of 53 (permalink) Old 12-03-2018, 04:22 PM
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A good heeling dog knows EXACTLY where the handler is in relationship to him, without looking at the handler at all. I understand where you're coming from, though, with the split attention.


Quote:
Originally Posted by FosterGolden View Post
I am not looking for IPO style heeling with the butt on the ground and unnatural movement. I agree that a dog heeling in the field has his head forward, but I'm not sure how a dog can offer precision in this position? How do you get a clean left turn with a dog looking out? And, in the field, the dog is looking out because he's splitting his focus on the handler and the field. In obedience, I do not want my dog splitting his focus and attention.



CH Rosewood Little Giant VCD3 UDX VER RA TDX MHU SH MXP MJP MFP T2BP DJ VCX WCX CCA CGC FFX-OG (born 3-10-2007), also UCH HR UH UUD AN UJJ URO1 UHIT a.k.a. "Tito" (the Tito Monster)

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My first dog, and my most special girl
Gibson's Golden Girl, CD, CGC, TDI ( 3-20-1997 - 11-22-2013) a.k.a. "Tiny", "Queen B"
and my heart dog
Gibson's Golden Guy, CD, CGC, TDI ( 01-31-1998 - 01-02-2012) a.k.a. "Toby", "HRH"
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post #10 of 53 (permalink) Old 12-03-2018, 07:26 PM
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I train with Bridget Carlsen who is the Queen of Heeling in the sport today. Heck she's the reigning queen of obedience, period.
I got really nice heeling with Fisher pre-Bridget but mainly because he liked to follow food around and my obedience trainer with him was a stickler for attention, and had goldens so knew how they thought. Fisher was a nice heeler.

With the Bridget stuff there is way more to it than prancing or a head position or whatever. In fact head position and body position, feet, rear, etc are not even the major part of it. The dog falls in and develops muscle memory based on what he is most comfortable with. There are some requirements though:
1 - YOU MUST TROT ALWAYS WHILE HEELING. No walking or pacing. This includes during the slow pace.
2 - LOOKING AWAY IS A SIN. Even flicking eyes away in an advanced dog warrants a correction. MOST people out there plugging away at obedience are woefully inconsistent at correcting and encouraging their dogs to never look away, and they never ever get a dog who pays attention 100% of the time during heeling. The dog quickly learns it gets a lot of leeway.
3 - Handler with left hand at waist means we are heeling. You shouldn't have to be told. See #2.
4 - Initially in teaching heeling, the handler does all the work. When the dog is proficient in heeling THE DOG does the work, the handler doesn't have to handle very much at all.

I have never taught a focal point. Initially while teaching heel position the dog needs to stay glued to food but once the food goes away they just naturally look up at my face, because goldens are very social and like to make eye contact with mommy. I am very cognizant of where my dog receives his reward (food or toy) during heeling. 99.9% of the time it is from behind me. I would NEVER EVER spit food or give food from my mouth. If you want a wrapping dog who puts his head down, do that. The only time I really ever reward from my right hand with the dog coming around in front of me is for right turns or about turns.

There are a LOT of other moving parts in the Bridget way of teaching heeling but those are some important ones that anyone can apply regardless of their training method.

I can appreciate that many many dogs title and achieve high scores and impressive accomplishments having been trained to not look at the handler. Good on them. I think it's boring as hell. I want my dogs to look like a million bucks in obedience and that means a whole lotta engagement with the handler.

Slater (also a Master Hunter/HRCH):
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