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Another "making plans to train the puppy" post. I'm considering using an attention stick to train attention heeling. I've only ever actually seen it used in person by one trainer. She trains with Anne Marie Silverton so learned the method through her.

Can anyone tell me any drawbacks about using this system? I know several different sites sell them, is there one that is more recommended?

I already had my other three dogs when I first started training, so I always had the excuse of not getting to start them as puppies and not knowing what I was doing to fall back on. ;) I don't have that excuse with Flip, so I've got to do my best to do it right this time!
 

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I used the attention stick and can't really see a drawback honestly. It's basically luring the attention in the early stages while building muscle memory and eventually the dog learns to use the armband as the visual target.

Some dogs progress differently. For my whippet, the stick went from in my hand at waist level (just barely above her nose) to out of my hand at waist level on a belt and then the belt gradually moved up my body. (The point where it was at boob-level was especially fun - thankfully there aren't any pictures of that floating around out there!) From the boob-belt, the stick went on my armband, but the stick was about 4" long and finally the stick got shorter and shorter until eventually, she saw the armband as the keeper of the food. The food was tucked between my arm and the band, so she couldn't see it at that point.

For Quiz, I went from stick-in-hand directly up to armband w/ 4" stick and shrunk the stick. At the point where you get the stick out of your hand and onto your body, all dogs seem to go through a steal-the-treat phase. No big deal in the long run, but annoying in the moment!

Also with Quiz, I added the clicker just as a marker, even though I wasn't shaping the attention. I just find the clicker market to be more salient than a verbal, although I use both.
 

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Thanks for sharing. I just held the treat in my hand or mouth with all my other dogs, and our normal heeling scores are 0 - 1/2 off, so I'm not sure that I want to try to fix something that's not broken for me. But I've been considering changing my focus point from my face to my arm for Flip, and it seems like it would be easier to have my hands free. I guess I need to decide quickly because he's almost at the age that I want to start getting more serious about heel work.
 

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With Quiz, if I reward from my mouth in heeling, I get crabbing.

When you hold it in your hand, how do you fade the visual-ness of it? Do you heel with your left arm down or on your waist?
 

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With Quiz, if I reward from my mouth in heeling, I get crabbing.

When you hold it in your hand, how do you fade the visual-ness of it? Do you heel with your left arm down or on your waist?
The method I used was to over time bring food higher and higher until it was held at my mouth. Then the food was hanging out of my mouth (out of the corner, not the front, that's what avoided the crabbing), and finally it was hidden in my mouth. Sounds like it's very similar to the method you use, we just ended up with a different focus point.

I guess I need to play around this week with Flip and see if I like his position better if he's looking at my arm or at my face. Of course, I guess that could change since he's still got a lot of growing to do.
 

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That's cool that you didn't get the crabbing. I found that even when the food was fully IN my mouth and not visible -- and I'd turn my head to spit it to him -- once he KNEW I might have it in my mouth, that's where he wanted to look and we got crabbing. Maybe it's b/c he didn't have the progression of the food in my hand, working its way up... ? ?
 

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I should add, I no longer heel with food in my mouth at this point with my dogs (unless I just need to get my hands free). At this point they are not looking there because they think food is there, they are looking there because it is their habit to do so. I heel with my hand at my waist and usually keep food there in my hand. But I never have a problem with them looking at my hand, since I don't do that until I have a very strong habit developed with them to look at my face.
 

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That's cool that you didn't get the crabbing. I found that even when the food was fully IN my mouth and not visible -- and I'd turn my head to spit it to him -- once he KNEW I might have it in my mouth, that's where he wanted to look and we got crabbing. Maybe it's b/c he didn't have the progression of the food in my hand, working its way up... ? ?
I've found I don't like spitting in heel position much. More often I pull the treat out of the side of my mouth and give it to the dog. Again reinforcing looking at the side of my mouth, not the front of it. Most of my spitting is done in front position, but I've gotten away from that a lot too, but that's probably due to the fact that I'm also training a small dog and spitting at front with a small dog tends to make them want to sit out.
 
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