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Many dogs quickly build an expectation of who’s really in charge – it’s that interesting person with the gun or the dummies .All of a sudden, the dog walks to heel with them instead of with you …

Tassla walks to heel … with the guns

The heelwork is more than just a position – it is a feeling that the dog and I are connected and are walking together. Sometimes the heelwork from an outsider’s perspective can look really good, but my own feeling is that I could just as well have stayed in the car for the dog isn’t walking with my anyway. The feeling of walking together seems to me to be very much related to the dog’s arousal level and expectations. If it is in the emotional frame of mind, it is much easier to get a good heelwork.

 Lena and Tassla walk with each other.

In addition to controlling the arousal level, it is also good to practice walking behind someone. Also ask the person you are walking behind to point in different directions, ask you to stop at a certain spot and throw distractions (adapted to the what the dog can manage of course).Be a “disobedient” student sometimes and walk the opposite way of what the helper is saying, and reward the dog because it accompanies you instead of the assistant.

Heelwork behind the gun – the dog’s position is slightly too far ahead

For extra challenge – ask the person to walk next to you and then walk faster and walk ahead of you. Or do as the judge did on a trial I participated in at once – walk arm-in-arm with you and control the speed .Then it becomes very clear if the dog walks at your pace or if you’re walking at the dog’s pace …

Practice that you – and not the dog – should greet the judge
Practice walking to heel behind the gun – and that the dog should walk with you and not with the gun

Today’s exercise

  • Think about who your dog is walking with and what distractions you need to train with your dog.
  • 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.
  • Subscribe to our blog to receive emails when new training tips are available.


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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