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Discussion Starter #1
We're doing better with Caeda walking on a leash, but by no stretch of the imagination is she perfect. Wanders in front of my feet, wants to walk just that little bit to fast, and will speed up more if I do (this is the cause of the majority of the non loose-leash time). She isn't pulling shoulders out very often, head-down pulling is comparably minimal, less reactive to the leash in general. If she stops and I don't want to a little "hey" and tug on the leash (not hard at all), gets her going. Lots of treats IF she is in the right position, which isn't as often as I would like. Surprisingly the current situation is a huge improvement over a month or so ago! She does fantastic inside, but going outside doesn't quite reflect that.

My biggest question actually is this: Would teaching her a competition style heel help with this? Just as an exercise in focusing on staying next to my leg? No plans on doing any competitions, but I'm wondering if any of you who have taught this found it improved general heeling on walks. I figure teaching her this might indirectly help her general walking rather than constantly having to guide/manhandle or lure her back into a heel (both of which result in about 30 seconds of improvement and don't seem to be cutting it). If so, any good Youtube videos that any of you are aware of on "competition heeling for idiots"? I've seen a couple but most seem to be dealing with dogs that already know how, or perfectly compliant puppies, neither of which apply here lol.

Secondary question: how long did it take some of you to get a good heel on walks? Or get a good competition style heel? Caeda is over 7 months now and we only spent the last 3 or so really worrying about her heel. We put more importance on her recall and down/sit, both of which have been making a big difference extinguishing other bad behaviors.
 

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I don't teach my dogs a heel for a walk. But I don't go with the dog if the leash is tight - at all. Rather than work on a competition style heel, I would be concentrating on reinforcing check-ins/attention. I don't even start to work on heel usually until the dog is a year old. Puppies (especially larger breed puppies) simply aren't that aware of their own bodies, and I don't want to have to retrain it later. Be aware that competition style heeling is not just about what the dog does. It's also about the very subtle cues you give intentionally or unintentionally and the precision of your footfall and footwork. Me, I don't want to have to work that hard on a walk.
 

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My dogs will heel on walks when I ask them to, like when we're passing other people, but I would never ask them to heel for the whole walk, and heeling is a specific exercise that doesn't influence how they walk the rest of the time. I walk the dogs for the dogs, so I want them to enjoy it as much as possible, and that means letting them run around and sniff. For a bit dog you probably wouldn't want them running around everywhere, but walking very casually next to you while they are free to slow down and sniff if they want will make their walk more enjoyable.

To stop pulling, do a search on youtube for "silky leash". If the dog is too strong to actually physically prevent her from dragging you along, you might want to consider a head collar or prong collar.
 

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I don't think dogs generalize a competion-style heel to walking politely. When I had Penny in obedience classes, she was very good at competition-style heeling. But she's never gotten the hang of loose-leash walking. And I find walking with a dog at heel to be incredibly annoying--I kept tripping on her. I want the dog slightly in front of me, but not pulling.

Bottom line: I don't think training a competition-style heel will improve her walking behavior. Train toward the behavior you want, don't train for a more stringent behavior then let that behavior relax to what you really wanted.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm looking for a pretty casual walk as well, but lil fuzzy is right, being fairly big, and getting bigger we don't want her running around everywhere. We don't want or expect a total heel for the whole walk. We do need her to stay more aware of us during the walk (and not wandering directly under our feet), which is why I had the thought of competition heeling, kind of as a training game for her, which might be another way to teach her to pay attention to what we are doing during the walk. If we went for walks where there were other people we would be SO out of luck right now, unfortunately getting the opportunity to train and go for walks in that kind of environment are few and far between. A more concentrated effort to do that will hopefully come once she is doing well in our more familiar area.

Pulling isn't so much of a problem aside from her wanting to walk faster than us, and faster, and then run lol (much better than when she always bolted from a dead stop or stick her head down and scramble). Already did silky lead, it helped a bit with the worst of it. Head collar is an absolute no, not thrilled with the neck snapping factor, in case she decides to start bolting again. She is big enough to get a fair bit of momentum even in the space of a few feet. The prong is still a serious consideration, but its the attention on us during any walk is what I'm trying to get, and not succeeding in any significant way (although perhaps it is just a matter of more time doing what we are doing). The prong might solve the pulling (which is nothing like it used to be) and be a useful tool to help, but it doesn't solve the real root of the problem which is her attention to how we are moving. I wasn't looking to train the competition behavior to let it slack off into a regular walk, but just to use it as a means to train attention while moving....but it sounds like it might be a waste of time, so I won't bother. Unless of course someone pipes up and says she might find it fun....I don't mind wasting time training her to do something she enjoys :D

Oh, and you are absolutely right about the awareness of their own bodies thing Pawz, she is still pretty awkward sometimes. She isn't really horrible to walk any more aside from keeping her out of the new and exciting garbage that the landlord seems to love laying all over the back trail, I just would like to tweak some of the slightly annoying things a bit. Perhaps I'm asking too much and she will gradually become more aware of herself and us (along with continuing to train as we are).
 

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Training a good comp. heel typically takes about two years or so to refine to the point where it will get you a decent score in the ring. I don't believe that's what you're shooting for, but if training certain components of a comp. heel allows you to progress further with LLW, then I'm all for it ! :)

That's what creative training methods are all about ... "finding the ways, and going the extra distance" in order to achieve a more satisfactory end-goal. (even if sometimes, the two behaviours may initially seem unrelated).



BTW .. if you're consistently getting about 30 seconds worth of acceptable LLW, and then it reverts back to unacceptable ... I'd suspect your reinforcement schedule likely needs some consideration / tweaking.
 

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For walks all I ask my guys to do is NOT drag me. I can have both leashes in one hand, and my arm is relaxed. They are allowed to be at the end of the leash, but not pulling. Ticket is fine with that, he settles in and it's all good. Storee is more concerned about not pulling and will hit the reverse gear often, and sometimes will do twice the distance that way, forward, back, forward...

If I need them closer in I just shorten the leashes up and they will do the same, no pulling. When they do pull, I stop and ask them to sit or turn the other direction or a combination of those sorts of things, till they are settled down again. I do find walking down the street on the road (not really busy here so no big deal) works much better than walking on the sidewalk where they're more tempted to sniff and check out things.

I agree with pet peeve, if you're only getting 30 seconds of good walking you likely need to adjust things on your end.
 
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