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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I took Rusti away from our normal training area today to a large open park for a change of scene and whilst we were getting on with our training and minding our own business, some old guy with his lab came up to us and said that I shouldn't be training Rusti off-lead as he is far too young for that and heelwork should always be done on a lead for such a young dog, otherwise he certainly won't make a gundog. He then went on to tell me that Rusti is not "heeling" at my knee and suggested I wave a tree branch back and forth in front of his face and if he didn't stay behind my knee, give him a whack with it! 8O :evil:

Well I am totally brand new to this gundog stuff, but I KNOW Rusti and I know that he heels very well for a pup of his age and subsequently most of our training is off-lead. This man really upset me today and I certainly wouldn't use his methods! :twisted:

Am I wrong in training Rusti off-lead at 8 months and does it really matter in gundog work if your dog dosen't heel perfectly by your knee?
 

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working off lead at 8 months sounds fine to me. the earlier he learns to, the better i think (so you don't get lead dependant like me :oops: ) anyways..... i think the old man was taking rubbish.

Ideally the dogs shoulder should be level with your knee - that way they have a view to the left and right to mark any dummies falling from the sky :D
 

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Well, I'm new to it too, but I can't see anything wrong in having him walking at heel off lead sooner rather than later surely?

With the stick thing, that's quite common. Sounds like the man meant swinging a stick back and forth, bit like a pendulum. If dog moves a wee bit too far forward he'll bump into the swinging stick. Swinging a lead round in a loop has same effect. If you've got on-lead heelwork spot on, translating to a good heelwork position off-lead should be ok without needing to use any of these methods.

I'm only repeating here what others have said to me. When I did gundog club grade 1, the trainer showed some of the people these methods as a means to help them tidy up their heelwork.

My understanding is that absolutely perfect heelwork is not a necessity in gundog work, but when it comes to competing, sloppy heelwork will lose marks I think, and that's a shame when heelwork can be points safely in the bag :)
 

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As Mo says he's probably meaning as she describes.... the only reason the dog would hit the item... stick lead whatever... is if he walks to far forward.

I find it horribley difficult to do because I'm not co-ordinated enough. I've seen others do it to great effect.

I certainly had Pasco off lead heel walking at that age..... Huds maybe not.... what I would say though is make sure he can heel walk with a lead too. I've had a bit of an issue with Pasco thinking leads are free reign to walk a little bit further forward than off lead. Its the oddest thing. He walks better off the lead than on.... I'm guessing because we rarely have him on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well thats a relief, I'm hoping he didn't actually mean to give Rusti "a whack with the stick" (his words)! Rusti's off lead heelwork is pretty good I think, his shoulder is about level with my knee but being a pup he sometimes gets all bouncy and excited and I have to call him back to heel but he does it quite happily.

He's good heeling on the lead too, but does pull sometimes when I take the gang out together.
 

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Nikki I'm not sure I can add anything to the good advice above.

I am a great believer in getting rid of leads as quickly as possible. At 8 months both Pepper and Boots would be doing a whole lesson off lead. It is usually handlers that rely on the leads as a sort of crutch.

BUT depending on what you want to do with Rusti I would not have him off lead if he is in the wrong position ie too far forward. I would go back to training on lead in the right position, then with the lead wrapped round his neck in the right position, then back off lead again. If you think he is in the right position then that's all ok. Keep the sessions short and then allow time for him to have a good old bounce :wink: . Bouncing should not be happening for the short space of time that you are asking him to heel though.

Never listen to these people who march up to you in strange places with there odd advice. Listen to your trainer.
 

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Just a bit more I promise :wink: :D

If Rusti is doing heelwork at the moment and he is say 3 inches too far forward I guess you are thinking to yourself well that's ok I don't need perfect. :wink: :D

What will happen is next week he will be 4 inches too far forward, then the next 5 inches. Do you see where I am going with this? Then he will think to himself oh well I will just go and have a sniff over here. He is at an age where he will test the water to see how much he can get away with. If you correct things straight away when they first start to happen they will not progress to all sorts of other much more undesireable habits.

Hope that helps a bit :D .
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Good advice Jill, thanks. I think you're right, Rusti probably is slightly too far forward so I will do what you have said back on the lead and off again. I really wasn't sure how perfect his position needed to be, but can see what you mean about it progressively getting worse if I let him get away with it now.

What would you suggest I do if he does decide to "bounce" and mess around. Do I just tell him off and repeat the exercise until he does it properly?

Thanks for your help.
 

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Nikki I would guage how long he can do heelwork without the bounce - so say he can do 2 minutes "perfect" heelwork - stop at that point and do something else, or let him have some free time. Very gradually increase that ie 2.5 mins, 3 mins etc. The bouncing around is a lack of concentration and would suggest you are trying to do heelwork for too long.

However now he is 8 months I would try to cut back on the bouncing and just do something else like recalls, steadiness, stays, stop whistle, then go back to some heelwork, then something else etc. He will not be able to concentrate on heelwork for long stretches (his grandpa never could :) .

Just one thing Nikki as I notice you went straight from going back to heelwork on lead to heelwork off lead - do not forget the power of wrapping the lead around his neck for a while it really does make them think they are still on lead. It can be quite a useful transition.

Let me know how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Many thanks Jill - will practice as you have said and yes I will use the lead wrapped round his neck before going back to off-lead again.

Will keep you posted :wink:
 
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