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After working with Zero on CGC stuff for a week, I think I'm gonna go back to square one and train him to do a formal heel (or a reasonable accurate facsimile). I think this will help with the loose leash walking, as well as get him to focus on me and not the squirrels, cats, butterflies, rabbits, other dogs and people we encounter on our walks. (Walks would be so much easier if all those critters just stayed indoors.)

Anyway, I've read a bunch of how tos. They seem to all say basically the same thing. Have the dog sit at your side, walk forward with your left leg, click/treat when the dog stays with you, correct if he doesn't.

My question is how to cue this behavior. Everything I've read says to either swipe your hand in front of your dogs nose or tap your left thigh with the palm of your hand. Zero is too short for me to comfortably swipe in front of his nose all the time. My question is whether the thigh slap would work. Right now I slap my right thigh twice to get him to come. Can I get by with slapping my left thigh once to get him to heel or is this going to confuse the crap out of him?
 

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Sorry if I'm missing something obvious here, but can't you use a verbal cue? "Heel"? "By me"? "Get close"?
 

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I'm going to include a verbal cue as well of course, but I like to pair my verbal cues with visual cues as well. I'm told dogs pick up visual cues better than verbal ones to begin with and I like being able to cue my dog with one or the other.
 

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Training the Heel requires the dog to be operant to the clicker and from your descriptions, I think your dog is.

What I did was to have the dog off lead in an enclosed area and when she approached my left leg I clicked and treated, giving her the treat in the precise place I wanted her to be in for the "heel." I then clicked and treated very rapidly with her near my left leg (as I was walking.. stopping to give her the treat and let her eat it.. and moving right on. When you first do this you need a LOT of clicks and treats.

When the dog gets the idea, up the ante and require better body position etc.

Another thing that helps a LOT is to teach the dog to pay attention to you on a cue.. starting with the clicker. Start with clicking and treating whenever she looks at your face. This may be short durations at first, but with the use of rewards, increase the time she has to look at you to earn a treat. Eventually add a word like "look" so the dog will look at you when you say this word. You can always get your dog's attention this way once the cue is reinforced and the dog owns it.

I use two commands for heel. One is "heel" and it is for formal work. Dog looks at my face and walks in proper position next to me and sits when I stop. I am very anal about Heel.

The other command is "by me" where the dog has to maintain a position no further ahead of me than her shoulder at my left knee and no further back than her nose at my left knee. She does not have to look at my face unless I ask her too. She cannot sniff, but she CAN look at stuff. She has to sit when I stop and she has to maintain propert speed next to me. IOW's By Me is a sloppy heel..

Funny thing is my dog prefers Heel to By Me.
 

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I prefer not to use any noticeable, audible, or visual cue. My cue is standing still and waiting for my dog to return to the heel position...she'll eventually figure out what I want. You can't get there from here without shaping heel (the behavior) as opposed to heel (a position). It reads as though you're only rewarding heel (the position).

To shape heel (the behavior), you'll need a platform...a box, or a square of plywood. Something your dog can place his front feet on and learn paws go here and stay here relative to my guardians position. So guess what? The fist step in training heel (the behavior) is to shape front paws on the platform.

What does heel (the behavior) look like? The simplest way to visualize it is your dog's rump swinging around relative to your side.

So, with the platform, and your dog now being rewarded for both front paws on the platform facing you, you'll begin to orient yourself around the platform slowly. As you do this your dog should reorient to be in front of you for the reward. As his butt starts to swing around C/T. From there it's all a matter of continuing to orient around the platform and increasing your criteria (rewarding only the biggest butt swings). After a few days your dog should be swinging that butt around to be right next to you. Phase out the platform and you should have a cute heel.

For a visual of what the platform and technique look like try this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6DHL3MFiBw

The sound may be off with the video, so just make sure you click as the dog's butt is moving around, and reward the dog for position.

I do have a verbal cue if I need it, but I wouldn't add it until I've gone through this process and the dog is volunteering the behavior regularly.
 

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There are lots of cues that your dog will pick up on for heeling.
For the actual heeling it will depend largely on exactly what your dog is looking at...your left knee, your left foot, hip or face, etc....that's where consistent footwork becomes very important (same cue(s) for left turns, right turns and about turns.

For the actual start...cueing your dog that you're getting ready to heel....most people put their left hand on their waist/stomach....that's the 1st cue. That cue can also become a 'call to heel position' once the dog understands that body language.

To start the heeling you are allowed to give a hand signal...a hand/arm motion forward as if to say, "Lets go!". That hand signal BTW comes from the Koehler method of popping the leash forward to get the dog moving quickly. An alternate method is to drop the leash below knee level and as you step forward it gives a leash pop if the dog isn't up and moving with you.

I prefer the verbal command "Let's go!" instead of "Heel!" as Heel tends to come out too harsh/drill sargent like.

The single most important part of heeling is teaching the dog EXACTLY where heel position is...not out front, not behind or way off to the side. That's best taught with a taut leash....not tight...but, zero slack. That heel position must be maintained on the turns, the sits and with any changes of pace.
 

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I would not use a snap, a clap, or a pat on your leg. :p (You'll get NQ'd for all three of those in rally, which I think you'd mentioned at one point sounded fun?) It's not that dogs can't learn to do without them, it's that it's darn hard to train YOURSELF to stop doing them.

For a small dog? I'd actually suggest tapping your left toe on the ground. It's very unobstrusive, it's at eye level, and it's fairly easy to transition away from, too.
 

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My visual cue for heel is putting my left hand on my hip, with my elbow sticking out away from my side.

Like Elana55, I also use "by me" for a casual heel. This is what I use for loose-leash walking. Libby is allowed to sniff, look around, etc. when cued to walk "by me", but still has to remain less than a body length in front, beside, or behind me.
 

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I would not use a snap, a clap, or a pat on your leg. :p (You'll get NQ'd for all three of those in rally, which I think you'd mentioned at one point sounded fun?) It's not that dogs can't learn to do without them, it's that it's darn hard to train YOURSELF to stop doing them.

For a small dog? I'd actually suggest tapping your left toe on the ground. It's very unobstrusive, it's at eye level, and it's fairly easy to transition away from, too.
We won't be doing any rally work or anything like that. We're just training for the CGC and I think a more formal heel or even a loose heel will not only cover the loose leash walking area that we need to work on, but will also help in greeting another person and another dog.
 

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Mine get a good idea from watching me. I stand up straight, walk briskly, NO dropping that shoulder back, it's the dog's job to get in HP. Eyes staight ahead, my left hand is held properly (we compete).

Let's go is LLW, Heel is Heel.

Training the Heel requires the dog to be operant to the clicker and from your descriptions, I think your dog is.

Um, only if you use a clicker. ;-) Or use a choose to heel type method. :p
 
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