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Something Lena and I usually distinguish ourselves with is that we want to practice what is most important right now to achieve the result we want. It applies to our courses, with our private students and not least in our own training. We even have a number of exercises that we call “diagnostic exercises” for that very reason – they tell us lots and from that we can create a training plan.

So start by making your own heelwork diagnosis. I recommend that you do it in two ways, a practical and a theoretical one.

If you give your heelwork cue to your dog, how long can it walk in the right position at your side when you walk straight with your hands at your sides, without treats in your hands? Count the number of steps or minutes it works without you having to remind the dog.

Think about what you need to work on with your heelwork – what works? What do you want to improve? How does it look? Which environments does it work in? What distractions does it work with?

Here I can excuse the sideways distance with having game in my hands 😉 

With Keen, my heelwork diagnosis at the beginning of the fall was as follows:

  • He ends up at an angle and sits slowly at my side when I stop – I want him to sit straight and sit down immediately when I stop.
  • Walking at an angle in front of me, sometimes so far ahead that only the tail is at my knee and so far away from me that two dogs will fit between us – I want him to go close to my left leg with his shoulder level with my knee.
  • Manages distractions well, but jumps forward one step if, for example, shots are fired just as we are going to stop – I want him to stop and sit down immediately when I stop, without sneaking forward.
  • Jumps back and forth in and out of position when he is too excited – I want him to keep an even position by my side.

Today’s exercise

  • Make your own heelwork diagnosis.
  • 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.

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Retrieving for All Occasions - Foundations for Excellence in Gun Dog Training
Retrieving for All Occasions - Foundations for Excellence in Gun Dog Training

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