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Discussion Starter #1
I'm finding it difficult to get Willoughby to walk consistently to heel for any great length of time. He is very good for short bursts with left and right turns, about face turns and fast and slow. Generally walking him on lead, he doesn't pull but tends to be a bit ahead most of the time unless I nag him a bit and then he gets back into position but soon starts to creep forward. He also walks a bit wide as Merlin prefers to walk close to me so Willoughby is on the outside when I walk them together. Anyway I can correct him?
 

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I have this same problem with my two. Individually they are fine but jostle for position when they are walking together. I have got so fed up with them I have started taking them places where I can just let them off the lead straight away.

They both want to be next to me so keep switching position and pushing each other out of the way. We get where they are walking nicely and then one will push their nose slightly in front of each other and it starts again. I tried a brace but that didn't work well as I didn't seem to be able to correct individually. I have switched Buster to the other side and that helps a little. It is not pleasant to keep nagging them and I know I have sent mixed messages to the wrong dog before. Buster may be edging ahead but if I grumble Roxy looks up all sad at me and vice a versa. I never had this problem with me old three. As long as I had Sophie at my side the others dropped in behind her slightly. I shall be watching your thread for some tips.
 

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Elaine is this help fr when yo are heeling him alone, or heeling your two together? My advice would be different....

Di
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Heeling on his own. He's fine if we are doing a quick burst of obedience style, staying close to my left knee and very focused. What I've done wrong is not keeping him at heel whilst just walking around the park or woods so now he walks beside me but slightly a head. His head and shoulders are in front of my knee making a left turn untidy. He also strays a little wide at times. I think it's how we started his training, at the dog club his heel work was geared towards obedience competition, short bursts and lots of change of direction which kept him close.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Would using a choke chain help? he would get an instant audible signal he was straying ahead instead of me saying no all the time.
I've used a choke chain in the past and got my dog that lagged a bit walking correctly. I know lots of people don't like them.
Is walking to heel with a gun dog the same as in obedience competition?
Would walking slightly a head be classed as a fault?
Otherwise he seems quite steady with a good stay, recall and leave. I'm not sure what the gun dog trainer expects for our first lesson. We talked more about his ED and why I wanted to try gun dog training.
Sorry to be a pain but I'm a bit worried we won't be up to the right standard with him being 20 months now and starting a bit late.
 

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Gundog heel is different to obedience heel. It sounds to me like he may be fine when it comes to gundog heel and your trainer will not expect you to be perfect so let them see him on the ground and advise rather than worry about sorting him before you go! You are paying for training, let the trainer earn his money! A gundog needs his head and eyes to be on where he is going so I'd say the position is their shoulder level about level with your leg most of the time but not constantly looking up at you. They should notice if you slow, stop or speed up or change direction and adjust as necessary, if they get so far ahead that they don't notice a direction change or stop then they'd be too far ahead. If you are looking to compete/trial etc with him then the strictness of the heel expectations could be different to if you are looking to train just for fun/work on a shoot.

I find treats the best thing to use to keep Luna in the right position when needed and Tucker responds best to my voice. I know what you mean by the noise of a chain helping. When Luna was a steam train puller a half-check with a chain helped a little but ultimately it was the training off lead which got her loose lead and heel walking when asked.

I had thought that I'd do more gundog training than agility with Tucks this year but he's having so much fun with agility at the moment it's difficult to find time to squeeze in both. Maybe once Luna retires fully from agility I'll get Tucker back out in the fields again! She'd hate to be at comps and not competing at all!
 

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Out of curiosity, at what age is a Lab supposed to do proper heel?

My Dante is 7 months old and he's walking by my side for 3 seconds, pulling away to sniff something for 10 seconds, coming back to me when I pull him back or call his name for 3 more seconds, rinse and repeat.

It's not helping that right now it's snow everywhere and he's having a blast jumping around, but at least he isn't pulling that hard as he used to.
 

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Xhr.... honestly? Realy there is no age to teach 'heel', the puppy sshould really be taught that is the correct and comfortable place to be from the first day you pop a lead on it at 3 months old... otherwise, if they pull for weeks, and THEN you decide to teach 'heel' its a heavy reschooling programme because they think pulling is 'normal' as that is what you have been fine with for weeks and weeks of their short lives... you see this?


Great post from laura, and apologies for not coming back to you Elaine...

" Would using a choke chain help? he would get an instant audible signal he was straying ahead instead of me saying no all the time. "


Why not reverse that idea and the little 'shock' and 'audiable correction come from.... you ;-) Whateverway you feel comfortable doing. its impossible to tell anyone how to correct their dog, but lets just say that a grown dog, who basically knows 'heel' does not need a waggly finger and a 'uhhh ohhhh' to correct them, they are tougher than that as long as your timing comes at exactly the second he pulls ahead.

Laura explained things really well, i would only add that gundog heelwork is basically the dog, preferably on your left, and your knee staying constantly level with their shoulder blades to hip bones. Anywhere between shoulder blades and hip bones is FINE. We do not need 'nose in the crutch' heelwork ;-) ;-) ;-)


" Otherwise he seems quite steady with a good stay, recall and leave. I'm not sure what the gun dog trainer expects for our first lesson. We talked more about his ED and why I wanted to try gun dog training. "


Good (but possibly not perfect!) heelwork, a solid stay and a keen outrun to a retrieve is a good start for any beginner gundog trainer! Anything more you can give them on the first lesson they will only be grateful for ;-)

I can't see any real place for 'leave' in gundog work so I wouldn't give that much work between now and then... other than maybe round the house? As a dummy comes down and you are not sending your dog for it, it would just be 'stay'... if thats where you thought 'leave' might come into it... :)

We are simple souls, very few words in gundog training. Come, heel, stay to start with. Then your 'fetch' command later and a 'hunt' command. later still 'back' and then a command for Left and Right. Thats about it :)

Di
 

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Diana said:
Xhr.... honestly? Realy there is no age to teach 'heel', the puppy sshould really be taught that is the correct and comfortable place to be from the first day you pop a lead on it at 3 months old... otherwise, if they pull for weeks, and THEN you decide to teach 'heel' its a heavy reschooling programme because they think pulling is 'normal' as that is what you have been fine with for weeks and weeks of their short lives... you see this?
I tried to do that from day one with treats, changing the direction and making sounds (from a high-pitched sound to a stern "no", depending on the situation) and it has worked reasonably well, as long as I'm consistent.

Probably I should have rephrased my question: when should I expect my dog to do proper heel, without treats? I'm doing something that _Jules_ described, like this:

 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks I'm feeling a lot more confident with his heel work after reading your replies.
I was trying to keep the " nose in crotch" :D thing going all the time. He is more or less walking with his shoulders just past my knee the majority of the time and a little bit wide from the obedience style.
I didn't explain how I use the leave command. I use leave it when he goes to sniff another dog or anything else he finds interesting.
I just used to say stay when we practised retrieve but I've not done much retrieving on land for the last six months. His retrieving and send away are very much obedience style so hopefully we can work with that and adapt it.
I'm really looking forward to starting training in a couple of weeks and will try and stop overthinking everything. Thanks again I really appreciate you taking the time to reply.
 

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Sounds like you have far sounder basics than most when they decide to start a BEGINNER gundog class. A novice gundog class can be a bigger 'ask' but if its beginner, fab and he will be a shining star with a few tweeks here and there :)

Di
 

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Xhr, how long is a piece of string? ;-) :) ... Basically when YOU decide that yoou genuinely and absolutely have a dog that has been taught WHERE 'heel' IS using treats to get him where you need him and him hearing 'heeel, gooood heel, fab heeeeel, thats heeeeel' a few hundred times (literally...).

Then you need to gradually ease off the use of treats. the problem with positive only treat training is so many dogs then will NOT continue the good behaviour when food goes out the window but thats another topic. maybe ;-)

But generally speaking start with them in sight, then put them away for a few strides. then bring them back again. then put them away for a bit longer and a few MORE strides than last time.... etc etc.... building up to doing a long period of heeling without them and the minute that falls apart, bring them back. Get it longer and longer between him having a treat.

there is no one day or age you USE them, and then them the next day be a thing of the past. You need to slowly wean him off them and still make sure you maintain control. If he starts to slip they need to come back.... or..... cough..... you need to get rather a fair bit tougher in how you react when he gets ahead JUST because you don't have treats ;-)

But certainly, gentle weaning is the way for any progression from 'treats all the time' to 'no treats'.

Di
 
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