Since the heelwork consists of many parts and should work in many environments, I believe more than one way is needed to train it. I think it is perfect to combine the gun dog training with the detail focus from the obedience training. I divide the training into three different parts that I work in parallel with: details, endurance and distractions. Then I combine them. 🙂
The first detail that must be resolved is where the dog should be. It is a matter of personal preference, but usually it is easier that you have the dog a little behind rather than a little in front of you in order for you to be able to turn left without stumbling on the dog. Of course, this also depends on how big the dog is – a small dog may have it’s shoulder level with your toes, while a larger dog may have the ear level with your knee.
I think it is easier to train if I have a clear picture of a fairly accurate position where I want the dog. Of course, in rugged terrain the position will naturally change a little, I do not want to request an unreasonable position of the dog, but rather that it then slides in slightly behind me or out a little on my left and then comes back to my left side. The most important thing is not exactly where the dog walks but it being apparent that we’re walking together – that the dog follows me and that I do not have to focus on the dog but can devote myself to what is happening around us.
Put the dog next to your left leg by letting it nibble on a treat – the dog should not learn anything now, you should just see how you want the dog positioned. Feel free to look at a mirror so you can see what it looks like – from different perspectives – and take a mental picture of it so you can reward just that position later on.
- Find out what your perfect heelwork position looks 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.