sitting at heel

Discussion in 'Gundog Training, Fieldwork, & Field Trials' started by caroleb, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. caroleb

    caroleb Registered Users

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    Rusty happily sits in front of me when he's been recalled and waits for his praise and knows heel but if I ask him to sit he always swivels his bottom to face me. Any tips on how to make him sit at heel? I've tried heel then followed by sit as he arrives but the shuffle thing occurs? :eek:

    PS good news is we seem to have developed some retrieving confidence at last ;D ;D ;D
     
  2. Sam

    Sam Registered Users

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    Re: sitting at heel

    Hi Carole

    I don't know how to fix this myself - but I know it can be done, as I've seen Pippa 'lining up' her dogs before sending them for a retrieve - and that requires them to sit facing the right way!

    Hopefully she'll be along shortly to explain how she did it!

    Sam
     
  3. pippa@labforumHQ

    pippa@labforumHQ Administrator

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    Re: sitting at heel

    Great news about the retrieving!

    With heelwork, the 'wall' is your friend. With young dogs that tend to 'swivel', teaching heelwork along side a wall with lots of sits in between walking forwards (and backwards!) is all good practice and keeps the dog nicely lined up.

    You can do this indoors and out. Any wall will do, just have the wall to your left and the dog between you and the wall. He cannot swing around if he is alongside a solid barrier. Then gradually progress away from the wall as the dog gets the hang of it.

    With retrievers that tend to 'swing around' I carry on the wallwork for a bit longer. I sometimes also use a clicker to get positioning really sharp, it requires a bit of practice but works well. :)
     
  4. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: sitting at heel

    Riley was doing this aswell, I've deployed some hedges to help but I also found using my left hand to signal and not turning at all myself seemed to stop him in his tracks rather than allow the extra pace(s) the enabled him to turn. Not sure if this means I've ended up with two visual commands for sitting but it's helped so far....
     
  5. caroleb

    caroleb Registered Users

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    Re: sitting at heel

    Ok I can see the value of a wall when teaching to walk and heel -how does it work when I've recalled him so that he comes and sits at heel?
     
  6. pippa@labforumHQ

    pippa@labforumHQ Administrator

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    Re: sitting at heel

    You are asking the dog to ‘assume’ the heel position when he is in a different position relative to you to begin with. This requires that the dog has a good awareness of his body. Many dogs find this difficult initially.

    One way around this after the recall is to teach the dog to go around behind you and then sit as he comes into the heel position.

    That is not how I do it. I like retrievers to swing round and line themselves up next to me when I say heel. This is not basic stuff.

    If I am teaching precision heelwork (which can be used to get a retriever perfectly aligned before sending out on a long blind retrieve for example) then I start by teaching the dog to resume the heel position whilst I rotate my own body on the spot.
    So I will start with the dog sitting at heel, then make a quarter turn anti-clockwise, with my feet on the exact same spot. I use the clicker to mark the exact moment that the dog moves in the way that I want, and I start by clicking any attempt to swing his bottom in the right direction and then become more demanding.

    Once we have mastered that, we learn to rotate the other way.

    Eventually the dog will hold the heel position whilst I rotate on the spot in any direction.
    I also teach the dog to heel backwards which really helps as many dogs seem to have no idea what their back legs are doing until they master this!

    I have to say, you might not think all this is worth the trouble!
    :)
     
  7. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Re: sitting at heel

    So today in class we got taught to do a separate "finish" to our delivery or recall where once they'd sat in front of us we lured our dog round with a treat to get them to sit in a heel position. It was up to us whether they stayed on our left or did a complete loop round us and we used a command word (finish in my case) while they were maneuvering.

    The experienced trainer in our midst said her dogs learn from each other and eventually all her dogs just automatically "finish" so they're ready for their next retrieve but as the rest of us are novices and only have one dog we used a command.

    Is that more what you had in mind?
     
  8. caroleb

    caroleb Registered Users

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    Re: sitting at heel

    Thanks Pippa & Barbera - I like the idea of an extra command and the word finish sounds perfect I'd been racking my brain to think if there was a proper word for what I wanted (that wouldn't get me stared at by old hands!) Pippa the only reason I ask is reading up on what Rusty needs for grade 3 and the Gundog Club stuff says:

    Section Four - Recall: There are two recalls.
    After the stay ( 50 yards )
    After the stop ( 25 yards)
    The dog should return directly to the handler when recalled and on arrival return to the heel position without delay.


    He always returns to a lovely sit but facing me hence the question.
     
  9. pippa@labforumHQ

    pippa@labforumHQ Administrator

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    Re: sitting at heel

    Hi Carole

    This requirement is based on the need for calm control rather than precision positioning. So provided your dog ends up next to you and facing forwards without too much fuss, I do not think anyone will penalise you for the way you get him there, even if this means you altering your position a bit, or encouraging him round behind you and then into the heel position.

    Pippa
     
  10. caroleb

    caroleb Registered Users

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    Re: sitting at heel

    OK thanks Pippa :)
     

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