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How to teach heel?

January 5th, 2006, 11:46 AM
I'm working with our new mini poodle to heel! She does a fairly good job when we walk in our neighborhood and will sit about 1/2 of the time when I stop walking or when I ask her. She's come a long way. I'm just not sure if I'm teaching her correctly.

I have her sit to put on her leash, then when I begin to walk I give her a slight tug on the leash, take a step and say "heel". I praise her and say good job (no treats... she won't take them. Literally spits them out like my daughter spits out brussel sprouts! We've tried numerous kinds and not found anything that she likes yet)

I would really like her to be a good, well behaved dog and she is doing great. We are working on "off" for jumping, and sit and doing fairly well. Stay and come she is not getting at all so I've giving up on that for the moment as we work on the others.

Am I going about this the right way? How often should we practice and how quickly should I expect results? I've never done any training before so I'm kind of winging it but I want to do it correctly.

Thanks everyone!
Kim & Clingy Poodle

January 5th, 2006, 11:53 AM
Although heel is a good cue for her to learn, she should not be walked in it. She should spend most of her walking time on a loose lead and use the heel for short periods of time when you need to have her by your side, crossing a street, walking through a crowd, etc.

January 5th, 2006, 01:40 PM
Kim - it sounds like your instincts are good, you want a well mannered dog and are willing to work for it.
Yes your dog should always walk on a loose leash, but there is no reason why she can't do it immediately and right by your side. When we work a dog for the first time they are heeling right away. It's not that your dog doesn't know how to sit, come towards you, walk beside you etc. She has physically been able to do it all the second she began walking. it's about you learning how to communicate effectively and clearly and about her respecting your word.
Do not give up on stay or come - those are very important instructions. Use your leash more to back up your word. The stay is really a piece of cake. Start inside the house and ask her to sit (on a loose leash), give her a hand signal to stay and say 'stay ' in a firm, short tone. Step away from her but be ready to step right back in her direction (pressure) and have her sit again if she breaks the stay. Use your leash to stop her from moving about too much, but always go back to a loose leash. She will challenge you 3-5 times until she figures it out. Then walk slowly around her - be ready to correct her when you walk behind her as that is a tougher location of trust for a dog. Teach her to turn her head from side to side as she watches you go behind her and praise softly. Do not call her to come from the stay just yet. Instead teach her patience and to look to you for release. Step back to her side and stand there as you wait patiently for her to look at you in the eyes. When she does say 'okay' (or pumpkin pie - it doesn't matter) in a happy tone and release her to move out with you. Then praise, praise, praise and do it again. Repeat this drill a few times and increase your energy as you go. This takes her to higher levels of distraction as you are racing about the room and she is watching you act like a fool but doesn't budge.
It would be great to attend a class. Don't hestiate to call us (check out our web site for the # in Colorado) if you ever need help - we help on the phone for free and can often talk you through a lot of stuff.

January 5th, 2006, 04:05 PM
Thanks guys. I guess I'm a little confused as to what "heel" actually is! What I'm looking for is to have her walk well on the leash and pretty much stay by my side and match my pace (goodness I sound controlling!). When we first got her she was all over the place, both sides then in front then behind. The only other dog I've ever had was a Golden who was shown by her former owner and she would always just walk on my left and match my pace and sit when I stopped. I'd love for Cuddles to do this. She is much better than when we first got her, but many times she doesn't really want to walk and will really lag behind. I think the proir owners didnt' walk her much. She really just wants to be held!

How long realistically should it take to train a dog? I just don't want to push her more than is good, but on the other hand she seems to "want" to know what to do?

Tenderfoot I just may take you up on you phone in offer! I appreciate the time you've taken to respond. My husband was absolutely amazed that someone I "met" online would actually take phone calls. I've been trying to tell him the world really is a wonderful pace!


January 5th, 2006, 04:18 PM
Call anytime between 9am & 9pm Colorado time. Happy to help.
Heeling is about walking beside you either left or right side (we don't get into 'left' only). We also accept walking behind us if that is appropriate in the moment. We talk a lot about 'who's leading who?'. If your dog is walking in front of you (even on a loose leash) they are taking you for a walk and being a leader - not what you want. You are the leader and making the decisons on where you are going and how fast or slow.
Everything can be taught to your dog very quickly in a matter of minutes to days depending on the issue.
I have to run to pick up my daughter at school so I will come back later and 'walk' you through it. Sorry to have to run. :o

January 6th, 2006, 08:14 AM
My dog also spits out treats when we are outside, but if we are in the house, she will eat them, I give her these tiny liver treats made by rollover. They are perfect for training because they are soft, not brittle, and they are so small and don't fill her up, unless my littlest kids get a hold of them, their generosity is un surpassed:rolleyes: .:)

Sorry I can't help you with the heel, but good luck with it!

January 7th, 2006, 11:53 AM
Heeling -

The problem is that every dog who pulls on the leash was taught to do so by his person. We don't mean to, but by not paying attention we do. Every step you take in the direction the dog is pulling teaches him it works and he thinks "I am supposed to pull my human where ever I want to go".

The first thing is to teach your dog not to cross your toe-line when you are walking. This can be done easily with the '2-step dance'. Use a flat wide collar and a regular flat, wide leash - not a choke chain, pinch collar, thin collar, rolled collar or flexible leash.

Start in the house in a carpeted area. Dog is on a short, loose leash by your side. You are going to take 2 steps in the opposite direction he is looking (you can give him a voice cue as you are giving him a slight pull on the leash) and stop abruptly with a slight foot stomp. If he blows past your toe line with even one foot then you turn directions and go in the opposite direction again - 2 steps and stop short. Your actions must be very intentional and clear. If you are too loose and slow then your dog won't get the clues that you are giving. Sometimes you are going to turn right into his neck and move through him forcing him to get out of your way. This is about him respecting your space and where YOU want to go. It's no longer about where he wants to go. Always return to a loose leash after you give him his cue and allow him to choose what happens next. Don't stop him with your leash either. Let him start to learn that it is up to him if you are zipping around the living room going in 16 different directions or if he stops beside you or behind you then you will stop and stand still for at leat 10 seconds. The movement is the pressure and the stopping is the release of pressure. It might take 6 attempts and his mind is everywhere but on you, but suddenly you will see him look up to you and stop. YEAH!!!! He's getting it. Praise SOFTLY - don't pet. Count to 10 and then you are off again. Or if he looses interest then you take off right then. This time he might respond perfectly or he might go back to his old ways. But keep it up and he will figure it out more quickly this time. Each time you do this he will respond more quickly because he is learning. When you feel successful inside then take this drill just outside your door (more distractions), then in the front yard, then on the sidewalk, then start adding steps, change of speed, etc. Do not think you have to walk him to the park or around the block. Working this exercise is tiring too and you are both learning and working on your relationship.

Now if you are doing this drill and thinking 'heck this isn't working" then you have to ask what you are doing that needs to be different. Some dogs are more challenging but there isn't a dog yet that we haven't had this work on. It's usually the person that needs to change what they are doing. Being more abrupt and defined in your actions helps a lot, sometimes changing directions walking into your dog makes a huge change faster.

When you then take him out to actually walk - you should play the 2-step dance first. Get his brain working and your skills sharpened. Try walking forward but if he passes your toe-line then either change directions or do the 'yo-yo dance'. This is when you are walking forward, he passes you and you swiftly go backwards (still facing forward) 5-10 steps and he is forced to turn around and go back with you. You guide him back to your side and then move forward again slowly. He needs to learn that pulling forward will get him further away from what it is that he wants. Walking with manners gets him going forward. Stop occasionally and have him stop beside you. Change speeds every 10-20 steps so he has to pay attention to you. Mix it up. That way neither of you get bored and lazy and he has to pay attention to what you are doing or he gets left behind.

This is all spelled out in our DVD aswell.

January 12th, 2006, 05:35 PM
Tenderfoot thank you so much for posting all that information! I feel I'm almost a mini-expert I'm learning so much.

We have a bit of disapointing news though... Today we took Cuddles back to the rescue people. She has become so clingy in the last week that she will not let anyone else hold her except me. She had begun refusing to let the kids even go near her, prefering to go into her crate unless I would hold her. I talked to the rescue people and they put me in touch with a trainer and after a long conversation we decided that she would most likely be happier in a "quieter" home with no children. We were on a daily regression at this point with each day becoming worse and worse for her. She got to the point that she would shake with fear numerous times during the day and was completely terrified of my husband - he never did anything but love her, but she seems to have an issue with men.

As for me she was a wonderful, loveable dog! But I don't think it was fair to her or my family. The rescue place has aready had a request from a retired, widowed lady who is actually looking for a miniature poodle as a companion! I think Cuddles is her dog. Cuddles will make a wonderful companion, following her "human" to the ends of the earth. I'm hoping it works for them and that poor little Cuddles can spend a day in peace without shaking her way thru it.

Thanks again for all of your advice, you were truly helpful (and she did end up making walking improvements for me in just a lesson or two!!!). I truly appreciate your time and help with our little Shakey Dog!!!


January 12th, 2006, 08:45 PM
I am so sorry that things did not work with Cuddles:( ...It must have been hard to come to that realization...

January 12th, 2006, 08:58 PM
I am sorry things didn't work out but it does seem that they did work out for the best for the new mom. Perhaps you were just the safe keeping until the new mom came along.

January 12th, 2006, 11:20 PM
Aww it's a sort of bittersweet ending. I'm sorry you had to let her go. :(

Can I ask a question?:o

With Jemma, when I'm walking her off leash, she always has to be one step ahead of me. I take a step and she takes two, and I stop and she backs up to beside me where she is supposed to be and sits, but then I take another step and she's back out in front. I can stop every step all the way down the street, and each time, she'll back up to beside me but then lunge forward when I move. The second she is ahead, I stop, but she just seems to have all the patience in the world. :o

Do I have to start walking in circles? She doesn't go further than a step ahead, but that step is crucial to her. On leash, she is perfect.

February 28th, 2006, 01:18 PM
:thumbs up This is a GREAT BIG THANKYOU to Tenderfoot for the instructions on walking on leash. I have had trouble with Sam forever. He is soooooo strong that he can pull my husband off his feet. If I have leverage I am ok, but if he catches me off guard, I'm in big trouble! Classes haven't helped; he's great in class. It was my fault (no surprise!) since I got lazy with him and started walking him with a flexileash. Well, the past three days I have been doing the 'leash boot camp' and it is working!!! Thanks so much for your help on this site.

February 28th, 2006, 06:24 PM
You are so welcome Phoenix.
Here I was checking in on an old thread and there you were with good news. Let us know if you have any troubles or need more help. It sounds like you are on your way to great walking manners. :highfive:
Thanks for the update.