Clicker Heel Training

Discussion in 'Labrador Training' started by brimar, Apr 4, 2019.

  1. brimar

    brimar Registered Users

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    When doing clicker heel training, do you talk to/encourage the dog to come into the circle, or just leave him to figure it out for himself?
     
  2. Michael A Brooks

    Michael A Brooks Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Hi @brimar

    You use shaping. Clicking and reinforcing as the dog gets closer and closer to heel position. Don't talk otherwise your dog has to filter out what is irrelevant.
     
  3. brimar

    brimar Registered Users

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    Thank's for that Michael. Very helpful.
     
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  4. Henry77

    Henry77 Registered Users

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    The way I did it was to use the "touch" command, which means touching the snout to my hand. I'd do it two or three times in succession, guiding her around my right side and back until she came beside my left leg. Treat at the end. She started to get the idea where she'd end up each time. Then I'd say "heel" before doing the "touch" routine. Then all it took was one time when it worked to say "heel" and omit "touch" entirely. I rewarded her like nothing else. After that one time, she understood the command, and I was able to repeat it well enough to fine-tune it.
     
  5. brimar

    brimar Registered Users

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    Thank's for the reply Henry77. I have persevered with the "shaping" technique suggested by Michael, and it seems to be working OK.
     
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  6. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

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    It's not a 'bad' thing to talk to the dog but I tend to find that the majority of people starting out have enough to deal with thinking about the clicker and treats and marking the desired behaviour and timing... without also talking to their dog. So - once you gain more experience and have everything going great, feel free to say a few words of praise or encouragement - dog training is about the relationship and not just about being a treat vending machine after all - but make sure you can do the other stuff first :)
     
  7. brimar

    brimar Registered Users

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    Having achieved a good "heel" in my garden, I have now progressed onto the street outside my house. At first it was OK, but now the dog seems more interested in anything except me. Bits of litter, birds flying over, distant voices, all seem much more interesting than doing what I want him to do. ANY advice would be appreciated.
     
  8. Michael A Brooks

    Michael A Brooks Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Hi @brimar

    What treats are you using? What treats were you using the garden? Think about increasing value when you go from low to medium distractions.

    How many steps must your dog stay in heel position before you click? How many steps did the dog need to stay in heel position when in the garden? When you introduce a new criterion, ie sart the exercisse in a new environment, then reduce the performance requirements of all the other criteria?
     
  9. brimar

    brimar Registered Users

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    OK Michael. Thank you. I'll up the treat value, and reduce the distance between clicks. Thank's again.
     
  10. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

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    I'd suggest you reduce the criteria to start with. Begin standing still in one spot outside your house. Click and treat every time the dog looks or even glances for a split second at you, then release the dog to sniff the ground again. (Ok, go sniff.) Continue at this until you say 'ok, go sniff' - and the dog 'refuses' to, and just keeps looking at you. At which point you can move onto new ground and do a few steps of heelwork.

    Heelwork is really (mainly) attention whilst moving. Take out the moving part of things and get it static first...
     
  11. TEE

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    Interesting post Jo. The point on attention makes sense and removing the movement at first even more. That is where I struggle at times to have Perci’s full attention throughout.

    Related question. If the dog is sniffing do I first use the recall to have her come in front of me and then ask her to heel?

    Or ultimately does the heel command become a different recall directly into position next to me.

    Hopefully I explained that right.

    Best
    Thomas
     
  12. Michael A Brooks

    Michael A Brooks Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    In obedience work recall and heel are distinct. In recall dog sits directly in front of the handler. In heel the dog's right leg is almost touching handler's left leg. Both members of the team are oriented to the same direction.In recall the team members are looking at each other a la bookends.
     
  13. TEE

    TEE Registered Users

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    Michael, thx. So that I am clear, I can "recall" a dog directly into heel?
     
  14. Michael A Brooks

    Michael A Brooks Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Yes @TEE but I would use the cue heel. You should be able to get the dog into heel position from any point of the compass.
     
  15. TEE

    TEE Registered Users

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    thanks. Michael, I am working in that direction. Thx
     
  16. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

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    If the dog is sniffing - and you've released the dog with 'Go sniff' beforehand, which is why the dog is sniffing, then you just wait and do nothing. If the dog is on a leash, the dog is going to run out of anything interesting to sniff (I promise you) and will eventually look at you. Then you can click and jackpot that attention - and release again with 'Go Sniff' back to sniffing the same spot.

    I would not focus on giving any cues - whether recall or heel - at this point. Because you get what you name. If you say 'heel' and your dog sniffs the floor, you are teaching the dog that the word 'heel' means 'sniff the floor'. So you first need to ensure the dog is offering you the behaviours fluently and as you want them to be. Then you can pop the cue in, just before the dog does them.

    The one exception is the Go Sniff release cue, which you can use right away - because we actually like it if the dog blows us off and refuses to sniff - that's the whole purpose of it.

    Don't become someone saying 'Fluffy.... Fluffy... FLUFFY... hey, look, hey, Fluffy....' blah blah to your dog. Because the dog will tune you out as an annoying nuisance, like a fly buzzing around their head. You will only teach the dog to avoid you and seek to disengage.

    Instead, watch the dog closely for any behaviour you like (in this case, paying you any attention), mark it with the clicker and liberally treat rapidly with treat after treat when it occurs. Then release the dog back to do what it seemingly wanted to do before. Over time, your jackpot is going to be way more interesting than sniffing the same spot on the floor - and then you can progress with a few steps of heelwork before releasing to Go Sniff again.

    The power of this is that you are using the environmental reinforcer (the smell on the ground) AS WELL as your treats. The dog will learn to give you excellent focus to 'earn' the Go Sniff release to the floor. The more distracting the floor, the better the focus the dog will give you to be allowed to go and sniff it. The only reinforcers around are not in your pocket - so try to use those in the environment as well.
     
  17. brimar

    brimar Registered Users

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    Thank's for the advice Jo. I have been trying this, and have mixed results. Maybe I am trying too hard.
    But, I have a new situation now. When I put on the dog's lead, or sometimes before, to walk him around the house to the street, he starts "puffing and panting" as though he has just run ten miles. When he sits down, he stops panting. A new one on me?
     
  18. TEE

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    Jo,

    Thank you! I was not even thinking in that direction with the sniffing. But you offered me actually 3 great inputs. I like the go sniff cue. Will work on that.

    On heel i for now get her in the right position sitting next to me and C&T when she looks at me. Next is movement...

    But I also learned last week and with your post today the importance of rewarding the dog when she looks at me or reward behavior I see from a distance. Amazing how much there is to learn. Thanks for all the help
    Thomas
     
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  19. Jo Laurens

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    It's a bit hard to imagine this but my best guess would be that it's due to arousal levels: He knows you are about to do exciting training with treats and that is very exciting for him, so you get the huffing and panting (which can be caused by arousal as much as exertion).

    Arousal isn't necessarily a bad thing - zero arousal would be a dead dog really and when arousal is optimal, it results in speed and style and drive and motivation.
     
  20. brimar

    brimar Registered Users

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    Thank's Jo. Having mulled it over, I was more or less thinking the same. He does settle as soon as we finish training.
     

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