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Heel v. Loose Lead - opinions please :-)

1374 Views 12 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Codysmom
Normally when we walk, I keep Chi at a heel. I do this mainly to keep her close and her attention on me. But it does become tiresome, especially on days that the weather is nice and we want to cut up and run/jump around.
This morning was one of those mornings, she was happy and full of energy but I kept her right by my side pivoting if she got too far out front (if her shoulder is much past my knee I change direction). Trying to maintain that perfect heel is somewhat stressful on both of us.
This afternoon I changed tactics. I allowed her more freedom and only pivoted when the leash got tight, it actually became a game to some extent. Running was easier because I wasn't so concerned with keeping her "right there in that magic spot" - overall, the walk was much more enjoyable for both of us. I noticed that although she was infront of me, she frequently looked back to check on me and my position. Toward the end of our walk, I noticed a couple Japanese maintainance guys walking in and out of a house - I took it as a training opportunity to practice close down stays in that front yard. She did great but I think some of that has to do with the fact that 1. she was worn out from our walk and 2. our walk had been so fun and stress free.
In light of the fact that I'm working on her socialization and confidence, should I relax on the whole "heel" issue and give her more freedom and room for fun. We can still easily work on heel throughout our walks and during formal training sessions. Or should I stick to my guns and keep her heeling primarily all the time during walks? By not keeping her at a heel am I sending her the message that she is controlling and leading the walk? I could talk myself in circles on this one looking at both sides - so figured rather than dealing with that headache, I'd get y'all's opinions :)
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heeling, to me - is not just a dog being in a position, but means attention on me. eyes on me, checking in with me constantly. it means we are working. it means no distractions, no paying attention to anyone else.
I don't want my dog's eyes on me. An occcasional glance is ok, but he can pay attention to me without constantly staring at me.He can still see me from his periphal (sp?) vision. He shouldn't have to look at me for guidance. I want him to be able to think for himself and know by my movements what I want from him.
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