Emilu and I are working on off-leash heeling in preparation for Rally Advanced and Obedience Novice. My instructor has said that she doesn't want us off leash until our on leash is perfect. Hmmmmmmmm - that could take a long while. A really long while. Were you guys all perfect on leash before you started practiciing off-leash?
No. If I was waiting until my heeling was perfect, then I would probably still be in Novice! Even the top teams don't have perfect heeling all the time! Now here is a question for your insturctor--Rally is suppose to help prepare you for the Companion Dog title--if you don't do off- lead then you can't do Advanced or Excellent. So?!
Now, realize that I do have food in my mouth when I do my off-lead work, especially with a 'green' dog. I have done a lot of attention exercises so I do have attention. Most of my heeling training is done on-lead initially but now it is off lead. They probalbly want to make sure you have a way to control so they don't learn bad habits.
UCDX GRCH Dunn's Marsh Caleb of Waltona UDX3, OM3, RAE Canadian UD, RE
FallRiver's Micah of Waltona GN RAE, Canadian CD, RN
You can also transition with a leash around your waist. Don't use the leash for guiding your dog, only pick it up for a quick correction and then let it loose again. That way you are working more with your voice and praise vs depending on the leash.
"In moments of joy all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag." W. H. Auden
Linda, Kona and Bo
I don't think my instructor thinks too much of rally - but I don't really care - I'm having fun with it and feel that it DOES help get us ready for traditional obdience - even though some things are different. When we're in Rally I never use any pressure on the leash (no points off for a tight leash here!) I do use it for some corrections while training, but we're starting to do things off-leash too. Sometimes I just have to strike out on my own and do what I think is best
I'll tell you what I do, because it works for me, and my dogs LOVE to heel, and do so VERY well...this is their strong thing, because I don't make too much out of it.
For about a week before I take them off lead the first time, everytime we heel, I exaggerate (sp) everything. Sit becomes very dramatic, with a good pop straight up, not room for mistakes. Hurry is very overdone, with a big correction forward, and I tell you honestly, within minutes they get what I am doing and avoid the correction. Lots of praise but no food. When the week is over, and I take the lead off, I still dramatize my hand corrections. Eventually, I drop them all together.
Ruby is pretty well 99.9% off lead. She loves to heel, is super attentive, and is like that with a lead and without. She missed a sit the other day and walked backwards to get back in, tail wagging, you could just tell she was testing me, so the lead went back on.
I am also confident when she is off lead, I don't do anything at all different. If you are worrying that she will run away, she probably will! Walk quickly and decisively, as if you know what you are doing and she will stick with you (and like Ruby...even when you are doing the wrong exercise!!!)
With the rally classes we are taking, she never took the novice. Rhys did. But she is doing very well in the advanced class because of her love of heeling.
I taught off leash heeling by doing a gradual transition on the light line. Its a simple procedure, do as love my dogz2much says but attach a tab (short length of cord about 6 inches long) to the collar and heel with that and the leash on for about a week then attach a 1/8th inch nylon cord about 50ft long to the tab and let it drag behind the dog as you heel on leash. After the dog stops worrying about the light line and is heeling along nicely then you can stop and remove the leash and toss it out so the dog sees it and simply start back to heeling. if the dog decides to run the area simply step on the cord and stop the dog and reel the dog back in as harshly as you feel is required. If you take a step and the dog doesn't get up and move you can simply stop and pop the dog forward with the tab on the collar. you should do really simple straight forward heeling with a stop every 5 or 6 ft to begin with and then work your way back up. As your dog gets better and more reliable simply start cutting off a few feet of the 50ft cord every few days. eventually you will be down to just the tab and then no tab.
remember never pick up the lite line till you have stopped the dog, it can slice into your hand if you don't. and never leave it or the tab on the dog if unattended.
Kelly and Amber
Murray heels better off lead...always has.
I believe it is Dawn Jecs method "Choose to Heel" that never puts a leash on a dog to teach heeling. I've seen lots of dogs trained by this method and I have to say I'm very impressed.
Never had much problem with Maddy or Hudler heeling off leash since we started practicing for Novice Obedience instead of Rally. And when Maddy got to Rally we alread had our CD. We did alot of our off leash training with a e-collar though, so we have a different perspective on the issue.
I always have trained my dogs to heel off leash, at home and at work at least (on leash in class, and places where other dogs might interfer). When in places where they must be on leash, I drape the leash over my neck or around my waist. Of course I do use a lot of treats, stored in my mouth.
Oddly enough both Ruger and Magnum always scored higher in off leash heeling than on lead. Go figure I don't think you will ever be "perfect" on lead and I think that's pretty unrealistic for an instructor to tell you. When you feel confident, begin working on offleash.