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Discussion Starter #1
I am working Remington on obedience. I am finding that I am much more demanding of him than I was with Magnum or Ruger. I've done it before, and now I want higher scores so I'm a bit more driven.

Anyway, my question/problem is... I am working to teach Remington to find heel position on his own. He is beginning to really understand, and is really trying. The problem is, getting him close to my leg... you know, snugging him right up beside me. He just can't get it right and I have to make at least 2 corrections (either with my hands, motioning him to get back and get in, or physically putting him into position). He is not necessarily swinging his butt out, but often times just sits off about five or six inches. I want him in close.

On the recall when he comes in, he also prefers to sit about six inches away from me. I make him come right in to my crotch. I know this is overkill but am hoping at a trial we will reach a happy medium.

I think his stand-offish behavior is linked with his ADD (I'm serious, he is a bit like an autistic child in that he doesn't want to be close or be held... I know that's not the same as ADD... he suffers from both ;)

I am using mostly clicker for marking correct position. Sometimes I do a leash pop when he's really off or lagging.

Any ideas on what else we can try, or is it just repetition, repetition, repetition?
 

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Well, I am pretty sure Zeke is basically an extreme version of Remington. At the age of 7.5 we have progressed to him accepting head-pats politely, and enjoying a moderate amount of contact. He will never be snuggly or anything like that, but he used to actively avoid ALL physical contact so I think we're doing OK. Honestly he didn't even wag his tail in response to human contact until he was close to 5 years old. Edit: not that he was ever unfriendly but he prefers to run and play and is not interested in "bonding" or anything of that sort.

Plus I believe everyone knows his attention span...and if you don't remember...he's the 7.5 year old dog who has an RN and nothing else. He did finish TWO agility courses this past spring though (no Qs though...stupid bars!).

Anyway, we have the same issue with close sits/close heeling (yes, I do actually train him contrary to popular belief :tongue1:). I don't know how Remington responds to things, but physically placing Zeke in the right spot is a big no-no because he doesn't like being handled and he gets totally out of focus and it makes everything 10X worse. With him I have found that I really just have to start low and keep increasing my expectations over time. Sitting a foot too far out on a recall? OK. He came. Reward. I'll take that a few times, but soon we go down to 11in and then to 10 etc. I have to slowly whittle down the space. Frustrating and time consuming, yes. Effective (for me)? Yes.
 

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I love Zeke! :D

Linda, you know I am certainly no expert, but one thing I have been told by trainers is to deliver the treat practically on the leg. The other thing I have been told when Angus is forging is to put the leash behind my body and take up the slack. Those two things are about all I can offer.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
but physically placing Zeke in the right spot is a big no-no because he doesn't like being handled and he gets totally out of focus
I SO understand this! I don't think Remington is quite that bad, but it definitely is a problem. See my siggy pic below, look at how Remington is leaning AWAY from me. That's what he does... he is not Mr. Get Close guy (he is on the far right)

Although, I will admit that since I've been working with him lately, he has become a bit of a snugly bud for his afternoon nap or when I'm home he wants to sit right next to me on the couch, that NEVER happened before, so maybe, just maybe, in his little mind he is bonding with me. Woot!

Connie, I have been dropping the treat from my hand held close to my face to get him looking up at me. I just can't put food in my mouth and spit it at the dog, am in awe of trainers that do that, but it doesn't work for me at all.
 

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A couple of ideas

For heeling ..when having him find heel have some objects around the room like chairs and when you call him to heel be next to the chair with just enough room for him to get in to position.. or just move along a wall or fence line calling him to heel again with just enough room for him to get in...so he has to be close to you..

For calling to front..make a reverse chute..have you ever used bars or boards to make a chute to have them come in straight..well reverse so that the small end of the chute is at his rear so he has to get in far enough so that he doesn't sit on it..or make a square out of PVC big enough for him to sit in..first teach him to find it and sit in it..then put it in front of you in the position you want him to sit in and call him to front...or when calling him to front instead of having him sit have a treat or toy ready and throw it between your legs so he gets use to running up and through you basically then every once in awhile when he is running in good have him sit in front.

I can't touch Cedar to position him..not because he doesn't like to snuggle..he is a great snuggler..but you touch him and he melts..teaching him a stand was extremely hard...LOL..anytime anyone touched him he would just melt down...but lttle by little he got..
 

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haha! He *is* leaning away from you! I never noticed that before. Funny! Angus does this too. In just the last year or two, he has started to consent to (and even enjoy, I think) snuggly time on the floor at night. When we're done with everything we're doing for the night, he will sometimes lie against my leg while I watch TV. I love it! But, it's only on his terms. He still dances away if you try to pet him when he'd rather be doing something else. I've never been able to physically position him either. Totally makes everything worse!

I did a lot of spitting while heeling for a long time, but I had to stop it - it was making him forge. The down side is, now that I'm not spitting anymore I have less heads-up attention...but he is in better heel position. While this seems like it would be the most desirable of the two, I think I actually miss the attention more than I care about perfect position. Because without attention, I'm screwed.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I think I actually miss the attention more than I care about perfect position. Because without attention, I'm screwed.
Yes, this is one thing I'm really working on with Remington. I have to keep his attention, which is very hard for Mr. ADD dog. He is so pretty when he's heeling with that head up looking at me. Maintaining it is hard though. I know we've just really started, so we have a lot (and I mean a LOT) of repetitions to do yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
some good ideas Deb. I will try it along the fence (I work outside with him).

No way will he go between my legs, that's way too 'scary' for him. I've worked hard at making him stay in a down position while I step over him, he's finally doing it but it took a long while for him gain that trust. And actually, I don't want a big dog like mine running between my legs... one wrong move and I'm flat on the ground, LOL! My legs aren't all that long.
 

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LOL Riley is pony size..LOL..he didn't go through my legs alot either but then he is use to ducking down to get through a tunnel..
 

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Oh Linda, I do wish we were closer! Ok, on the front bring your hands to your face, around your mouth so he comes in and looks at you. Caleb has more of a short neck so he does sit out further from me on the fronts than Micah does. Mic has a longer neck and gets right in and tight. So, some of that might be structure. Caleb also will sit out further from my side, again due to structure.

Now having said that with heel position I did a lot of marking with the clicker. Do not correct for lagging--most Labs the more you correct the more they lag. Don't hurry them either--the sound of the hurry and encouragement can be taken as praise. I don't do a lot with Mic's lagging but praise and click when he's in heel position. Has helped Caleb a lot, too with his fasts. Also, clicking on the about turn has helped both of them on that.

Also with heeling and turns it's important to be aware of our body shifts, too. Even with fronts you can breath in to bring the dog in closer
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Do not correct for lagging--most Labs the more you correct the more they lag. Don't hurry them either--the sound of the hurry and encouragement can be taken as praise
Wow, this smacks in the face of the BC trainers I train with.

So you are basically saying let him find heel position and click/reward him for that. Should I say "heel" or just let him find it? I know when I first started with the clicker getting him to touch the target I didn't say anything... added the word touch after he was consistently touching it on his own. Should I just stand and let him attempt to find heel and get his click (like I did with the touch/target).

Thanks Susan.
 

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I tell them to place up for my set up command--to get ready to work, in position to work. Heel is to move out with me. If I do say anything to them, it is something like "hup, hup" in a lower tone but not so low it's totally corrective and then click when in position, with head up and working not just being there. It has helped Caleb's about turns and lag on the fast so I worked this primarily with Micah's heeling. We'll see what he does in the ring as we go on, but I sure like what I see. And yes, it does go against the norm--but I have found with Rotts, Labs to name just a couple of breeds that the more you correct for lagging the more they'll lag. Oh the problems I have worked through with lagging! I'm sure some field bred Labs can get corrected and corrected and not care, but then how fun is it for them? Isn't it suppose to be a team sport and both of us having fun? Anyway, my two cents. I'll shut up
 

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Discussion Starter #13
You don't have to shut up. I enjoy learning from you, so keep talking.

Heel is to move out with me.
I don't feel this way about heel. I think heel is a position beside me, whether or not I am moving. I will leave my dog, walk across the field with my back to them and tell them to "heel" and they will run and get into position, whether I am standing or walking. Once I figured this out for myself (that heel is a position not an action) it made everything else so much easier. Suddenly, Ruger could do the '3 steps back' for Rally excellent with no difficulty at all. (previously I had been telling him back back back, but simply switching my command to "heel" and moving where ever I wanted to, he found heel!!)

Remington is eventually going to get this, and then we will move on with it. I have no real plans to show him soon. In my mind I figure he'll be around 5 years before we are in the novice ring ;)
 

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Good stuff Susan! Lagging is always an issue for us. No big surprise there. I can try your suggestions. They sure won't hurt.
 

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Well, first of all, I can really relate - Emilu and Remi are alot alike in their "don't get too close, it makes me nervous" attitudes (think Stevie Wonder head movement). After 6 years of training (alebeit with a rank new trainer), she still is usually 2 feet away and a foot back of me in heeling, and NEVER come up close in her front. I used to think that it was her "eyesight" or her neck, because it does seem physically harder for her to do a close front and then look up at me. If I have a treat in my hand she's right there, but we have never gotten it down without the treat. In actuality, she doesn't look as bad in pictures of her heeling than I think she looks, but stiil - not good. I think that the idea of not coaxing them into heel position is a good one - I can see where it might be interpreted as praise. As for "heel" as a position - by my side whether I'm walking or standing still - I had heard this and taught Emilu this way. Unfortunately it has almost backfired on us.She knows heel only in a static position - If I tell her "heel", she gets in and sits by my side, but it doesn't transfer to movement. I will not teach my next dog this way - Heel will be for movement, and something else for the static position. Linda - if you figure out something that works, let me know.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Pat, as I said the heel-as-a-position worked beautifully for Ruger, it was like it just CLICKED when I figured it out.

I am going to use the same tactic with Remington, so far it's helping. He is learning where he needs to be. I do it as a static exercise and make him come to me from all angles and get into heel, and I also do it as a moving position. He's pretty good for a few strides but then will lag and I have to get after him. I'm going to try Susan's method of not telling him to "hurry, hurry" or doing anything that seems like praise unless he IS in heel position.

As far as looking up at you... I wouldn't over-worry if Emilu isn't in your face. Ruger rarely looks up at me when we are heeling. When he sits, he will look up briefly. That's just the way he is. Remington has much more ability to look up at me so I am really trying to train off of that. I like it when he is looking at me as we heel, he's much more animated and focused (naturally). When he does drop his head and glance off is when I lose him and he lags.
 

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It's funny - but I've not really trained Skippy very well at all, but when he isn't being any idiot and wanting to "go home", he has a beautiful heel position and looks up adoringly at me, just like the "suck-up" goldens do.He just does it natrually. At least I know what it feels like to have a dog heel well at my side.
 

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If you read the obedience guidelines, when heeling "the dog should walk close the the handler's left side without swinging wide, lagging, forging, or crowding. The dog must not interfere with the handler's freedom of motion at any time." For the recall, "The dog must come directly, at a brisk trot or gallop and sit straight in front of the handler. The dog must sit close enough to its handler so that the handler could touch its head without excessive bending, stretching, or moving either foot."

It is not required that your dog be looking up at you while heeling. We see it alot at shows and it sure looks pretty. If your dog is looking up at you, you know he's paying attention to you and not other things. However, it is NOT REQUIRED and you should not receive any deductions for your dog not looking up at you when heeling. Also, on the recall, the dog does not have to get super close. They don't have to be toe to toe with you. They just have to be close enough for you to be able to touch them. So, if you have your dog's attention and they are performing these excersizes, I don't see the reason to nag about looking up or getting closer if it isn't required and it really bugs your dog. It is sort of a "pick your battles" kind of thing.
 

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I always tell people when training to have in mind the perfect 200 run. If we don't know what perfection is then we can't work towards it at all. No, dogs don't have to be looking at you but a lot train that now and consider it effort on the dog's part. So much to it the further you go in competition.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Ann, I realize they don't have to look at you, and Ruger doesn't. He will look up at me when he sits, but when he's heeling he looks where he's going and that's fine.

The main reason I want Remington looking at me is FOCUS. We have a focus issue with Remington. He will lock on to things with his eyes and no matter what I do... bam... he's gone. (and I mean, he's left the ring, etc.) So the more I can get and maintain his eyes to focus on me, the more control I will have in the ring. It's that simple. I don't perceive it as nagging him. I know it's what I'm going to have to have to achieve decent qualifying scores with him.
 
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