Besides being able to walk for a long time at my side when I walk straight ahead, the dog needs to be able to follow along when I turn in different directions, when I stop and when I take a step backwards. Here it is great to bring in the obedience heelwork and work with turning on the spot.
- The right turns can get a bit wide and the dog ends up far away from me, so I work on rewarding the dog to make tight turns.
- The left turns are a little tricky because it often ends up with me having to walk around the dog when we are going to turn left – which is a bit of a hassle.I therefore want to teach the dog to turn on the spot. To do that I use the pivot I wrote about the other day and I can also use a leash to get the dog to be in the right position. Then I gradually remove the leash. In the video below I show what that can look like.
- Turning 180 degrees : I also want to teach the dog to turn 180 degrees and direct its attention forward again – very useful when I during walk ups and when something suddenly happens behind the line.If the dog can turn around swiftly with me, its chances of marking increases.
- Sit when I stop : The dog does not have to sit when I stop, but I think it is great if it does so so I teach it to do that. Most of the time I do this by using my existing sit cue, so when I stop, I say “sit”, reward, say “here”, take a step forward, stop, say “sit”, reward and so on. When I have done that five to six times, I just stop and see if the dog sits on its own without my cue. If it does I reward and repeat a few times without giving my sit cue. If it doesn’t, I continue using the cue a couple of times more.
- Sit straight / walk close to me : To get the dog to sit straight and close to me and also to walk close to me, I am careful about my reward placement, but I can also use a fence or a curb so that the dog is between me and the curb.Then I gradually remove the aid of the curb. At the end of the video below I show what it can look like. The “dull heelwork” with leash is also useful here – the leash helps the dog to walk in the right position.Then I use it and reward when the dog when it walks in the right position without the leash.
- Backing up : Backing up isn’t something that you do for very long distances, but rear part control is always useful so I also teach my dog to walk a few steps backwards.Here I usually use a curb in the beginning to get the dog back up straight. I have the dog standing between me and the curb, take a t step backwards and reward the dog when it follows me.In the video below I show what it might look like when the dog walks close to me and sits down when I stop, just use the same method but walk backwards instead.
In the video I show how I teach the dog to follow the left leg by using a short leash and with the help of an obstacle – which I then gradually remove.
- Think about how well your dog follows your left leg – what does your right turns, left turns, 180 degree turns, stops and backing up look like?
- Train heelwork at least once. (Note how many sessions and minutes of heelwork you do. Train what you and your dog need – it doesn’t have to be the training in the blog post of the day.)
- Feel free to tell us and others about your training by commenting on the posts on our website and/or Facebook page.
- If you haven’t participated in the challenge from the start, read here to find out how it works: Day 1: Heelwork challenge.