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A tired dog is a good dog, no doubt about it =)

I also do both. Heel is a formal heel, beside me, not in front of me. We do this everywhere, not just in training classes. Comes in handy in stores or at crowded places and like Jessica comes in handy with crossing streets. The automatic sits at streets; crosswalks, etc. are also part of the walk and just come naturally now.

“With me” is a less formal heel; it is a very nice loose leash type of walk. Frequently the dog will semi-heel beside me a little bit, then do a loose leash for a while, look back and check on me, etc.

But in order to be in the lead and be allowed to sniff things/have freedom to do as the nose pleases, I give the command “go free”.

The “go-free” command doesn’t allow for any pulling, so basically it means as long as you are not acting like a wild monster and are walking nicely on a loose lead you can take the lead and/or sniff until your heart is content or until I say, “heel” or “with me”.

Sometimes that just means the dog is out in front walking me in a sense, taking in the sights and sounds, or that means the dog can take a potty break or sniff break or whatever else they want to do.

Makes for a nice peaceful & enjoyable walk for us.
 

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I wouldn't stop and let Holly stare them down. I would keep on walking/working with her, when people/dogs walk by, it isn't a big deal that requires that you stop walking or stop your training.

If you have trouble getting her to focus on you during those times you can use extra enticement, like special treats or a special toy. I talked about what I did with my boy who loved to go up to people and dogs during walks and outings in the Barking Mad thread by Diesel.
 

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agree. It looks great in the obedience ring but in real life I don’t want my Doberman totally focused on me and nothing else.

I like for him to watch me out of his peripheral vision as well as always be alert and very aware of his surroundings. He can heel with the best of them, always scores high in on & off leash heeling in shows and heels well at other places in that manner.
He does follow me, my movements, and pace, letting me take the lead and tell us where to go, without having to stare at me with full attention. His 100% attention with me is there for sure, he is very reliable and we are in tune with each other, but his focus isn't constantly on my face or eye to eye contact. I have sometimes had to request he look at me, if the attention wanders too much back in the puppy months.

But each person has their own thing, what works for best for them and their dogs, and their own ways of doing things. I know Kim worked really hard for Bowie and his attention heel and I am really impressed with what they have accomplished.

The seminar we took back in October at the Doberman National explained heeling and what works best for each team and what motivates each dog, etc. The demos were awe-inspiring, to see a team so in tune with each other was a wonderful experience.

Yes, in competitive obedience, you are aiming for a certain way, a certain look of perfection, and there is a definite heel position for the dog in regards to the handler and certain paces to walk depending upon the heeling pattern but from observation in classes, the actual classes, time with instructors, and other events I have learned heeling can slightly differ with each dog/person team and that is okay. Each person has their own preference, what feels most comfortable to them and their dogs.

In the obedience ring, you see various correct ways to heel, the full attention heel and other variations of heeling between the dogs and handlers. Some dog’s focus at the leg, some focus at a place on the arm, some the person’s face, other’s peripheral vision, and so on.
Some handlers look at their dogs more often than other, some look straight ahead, some glance at their dogs occasionally, some slouch, some keep their back straight, and so on. As usual, I have found our behavior makes a difference in regards to our dog’s behavior when doing heeling and sometimes things need to be changed depending upon the temperament and personality of the dog.

Any way you look at it, a nice heel is a beautiful thing to watch between a handler and dog or be a part of with your own dogs. The respect and communication between the two species during a nice heel is a wonderful thing IMO.
 
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