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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm doing a Good Manners class with Cody and am having difficulty getting him to sit at my left side. He sits on command but always moves in front, looking at me. In class they want him sitting at my left side. He knows heel and will move to my left side on that command.

In class I have to lure him with a treat to sit at my left side, but he will continually try to move in front of me. Should I be using heel or keep working with him to sit in that position? I don't always want him sitting at my left side so don't want to confuse him. For example, I have him sit before I put his dish down at meals and before opening doors, etc. and don't need him always at my left side.
 

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Heel would be what you would want to use. Callie come means sit in front of me and Callie heel means sit at my left side, or walk at my left side if I'm walking.
 

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Ok, so for my puppy sit means sit and is not conditional on a position (to me). If she is in front of me and I say sit, she sits. If she is to the left or right, or even 10 feet ahead of me 'sit' is sit.

I would use a wall to teach your puppy how to sit on the left. If you get him in heel position you can block him with a hand or foot from moving forward and help him into a sit. I like to feed in this position as well so it becomes extra rewarding. If you intend on doing competitive obedience this will help him to learn not only to sit at the left, but how to sit nice and straight.
 

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For Kirby when healing when I want her to stop and sit by my side I say "halt" and put my had in front of her face and then sit. She knows that means to sit beside me. She is in Rally so I think it is ok to use more commands and singles. I don't know what is allowed in regular obedience. But to get started with her that usually works. If she sits crooked we "Ooops" and do again, as soon as she does it right I say "yes" and give her a reward. She has figured it out quickly (anything for food) :)
 

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I'm doing a Good Manners class with Cody and am having difficulty getting him to sit at my left side. He sits on command but always moves in front, looking at me. In class they want him sitting at my left side. He knows heel and will move to my left side on that command.

What does he DO on your left side when you say heel? If he's in front of you and you say heel, does he go to the left and sit? If so, I'd say you can continue to use that. However, it he thinks "heel" just means move to the your left w/o assuming a certain position, then I'd work on teaching him to sit at your left.

Ideally, I agree that "sit" should mean "put your butt on the the floor right now, regardless of where you are in relationship to me." For that reason, from a very young age, I start luring my pups to my left, my right, behind me, etc. when we work on sit. If you mostly practice in front, they think that the "front" part is just as important as butt on floor. For a simple sit, I just want butt on floor. I have different cues that mean, "quick - come sit at my left" (get ready) or "quick - come sit directly in front of me" (front), but in general, if I just sit, I want butt-on-floor right where you are when I ask for it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I think I've been overthinking this and getting confused. :doh:

We learned heel in puppy class and Cody knows this command. For everyday situations, sit for me also means sit wherever he is and that's fine. I have been working with him at home next to the wall but he still tries to move in front. I think I'll stick to the heel in class as the instructor wants all the dogs at our left sides, looking at her and he will do this on the heel command. What is different is we don't "heel" in this class. Even when I talked with the teacher last week about Cody moving to the front she didn't suggest I use heel to get him in position?

I think I'll try using "halt" also.

I have noticed I'm the only one with this problem...all the other dogs sit nicely at the left side when told to sit...:(
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What does he DO on your left side when you say heel? If he's in front of you and you say heel, does he go to the left and sit? If so, I'd say you can continue to use that. However, it he thinks "heel" just means move to the your left w/o assuming a certain position, then I'd work on teaching him to sit at your left.
When I say heel Cody will move to my left side and sit. I'm going to use this from now on.

Part of my confusion with this is that the instructor doesn't use heel so I was trying to follow what she did.

Thanks for everyone's input.
 

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I have noticed I'm the only one with this problem...all the other dogs sit nicely at the left side when told to sit...

No worries. Your dog sits nicely at the left when told to heel. Same behavior. Different word. And if you want to brush up on "sit" at the left, just reward there more often. Reinforcing sits at the left won't "break" sits in front, so long as rewards continue to intermittently come from sitting in front, too.
 

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Once he is sitting on your left side, reward him for being in the correct position before he has a chance to move back to the front. Give more than one reward, spaced out with a little bit of time, so he sees that holding the sit on your left side is beneficial. You can also keep him on a leash with no slack until he gets the idea to stay put on your left side.Heel means "stay by my left side no matter what I do." Whether you step forward, backward, to the side, or stand still, the dog should stay next to your left side. It's a position, not a movement. Your dog needs to know where to go first before it can sit, or it really should just sit right where it is. If the dog is getting up and moving to the left side without being told to, then it really isn't following the command (unless you just want "sit" to always mean sit at my left side, but I personally don't think it's a good idea). Eventually, through repetition, your dog will learn that anytime it is asked to go to heel position and you don't move, it should sit. Until then, keep reminding him what to do when he gets there.
 

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Our system is:
I tell Tito "get in heel" when I want him to go sit at my left side. It's an easy command for them to learn. It means go sit on my left side from wherever you are when I say it.
I use "get around" for the return to heel position from in front of me by going around my back (a typical "finish")
I use "swing" for the return to heel position from in front of me by going to my left side, not around me
The word "heel" means let's go forward
The word "sit" means park your rump on the floor right now, wherever you are
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Loisiana and Hotel4dogs: Thank you both, I will work on having him stay at my side for heel. I use a 4' leash in class so can give a little extra direction if needed.

For sit, I want him to sit wherever he is, and he does, so we'll continue that.

Next class is Wednesday so I have a couple of days to practice.
 

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Ranger knows "heel" means walk at my left side but when I tried to teach the finish using the word "heel", he got very confused. Sometimes I think he's too smart - like he's saying, no no heel means WALK on your left side, not sit there! I used the word "finish" with a hand gesture to get him to walk around me and sit on my left.

When I was teaching sitting on the left, I taught it in conjunction with sitting automatically (and straight) when I stop. Now when I say "sit", Ranger sits where ever he happens to be. When we're walking and I stop, he sits automatically without me saying it. If I do say it, he'll sit crooked and look at me cause he's thinking he's going to be asked to "finish".

hotel4dogs: this might be a dumb question, but how did you teach your dogs the "swing" command? I've been looking to teach Ranger something new and I would love to learn how to do it!
 

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Not a dumb question at all, but first I want to say that the way we teach it, "heel" is a position, not an action. When a dog truly understands that, he can get into heel position from anywhere in a room, around either side of you, from a diagonal, etc. It won't matter where he is in relationship to you, he knows where he needs to go.
I use "get around" for the finish around me, because otherwise he won't know if I expect him to "get around" or "swing" if I just say "heel" or "get in heel".
I teach the swing with food. When the dog is in the front position, lure his nose toward your left side and behind you while saying "swing". When he begins to follow the food, take a step backward to make room for his body, then bring your hand back up to treat him in the correct heel position, while you take a step forward.
I don't know if that makes sense without seeing a diagram? The step back and step forward are critical when you're first teaching it. They show him where his body needs to go and make room for him to do it. You can quickly start taking smaller steps, and then phase out the steps altogether.
I like to have him know both the traditional finish and the swing, because otherwise sooner or later I think all dogs will start to anticipate the finish. If you have an alternative command that you sometimes give, it keeps them from anticipating because they don't know which one is coming. I think teaching Ranger the swing finish might stop his crooked sits when you stop, because he won't be certain what you're going to ask him to do next.




Ranger knows "heel" means walk at my left side but when I tried to teach the finish using the word "heel", he got very confused. Sometimes I think he's too smart - like he's saying, no no heel means WALK on your left side, not sit there! I used the word "finish" with a hand gesture to get him to walk around me and sit on my left.

When I was teaching sitting on the left, I taught it in conjunction with sitting automatically (and straight) when I stop. Now when I say "sit", Ranger sits where ever he happens to be. When we're walking and I stop, he sits automatically without me saying it. If I do say it, he'll sit crooked and look at me cause he's thinking he's going to be asked to "finish".

hotel4dogs: this might be a dumb question, but how did you teach your dogs the "swing" command? I've been looking to teach Ranger something new and I would love to learn how to do it!
 

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Thanks hotel4dogs! I've been working on "swing" with Ranger for the past few evenings. We've eliminated the steps backwards and forwards, but i still have to lure him or he tries to do his "finish" (or lays down for some reason). What's the next step after eliminating the steps? Just keep working on it? Also what hand gesture do you do for the swing? I've found ranger responds way better to hand signals than verbal cues so maybe a gesture would help.

I know what you mean when you say "heel" is the position, not the action. I taught my old border collie that no problem but using the same technique with Ranger was frustrating for him. He's smart in some ways, in others...not too sure. So to alleviate his stress and keep his willingness to please (which unfortunately is a recent development - long story), I made "finish" his word to get in the heel position from whereever he is in the room. Once I seperated the two words, he didn't have a problem. Like I said, smart in some ways...not so smart in others.

Thanks so much for your help! I'm finding it a lot harder to train Ranger than my old border collie and I need all the help I find!
 
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