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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So with all of the excellent help I've received on the forum and from recommended readings, I have came very far with my rescue boy and clicker training. He is on lead heeling very well, does great turns, is making fabulous improvement on watching me, and auto sits when I stop. He has also been doing great with off lead heeling and he actually stays right by my left leg now (where as he used to want to be 3' away). I have two prominent issues now: his sit position on recall/come, and also on the finish.

He knows that when I say come, he will come to face my front, sit in front of me, and maintain eye contact until I tell him something else. However, gradually he has began sitting further away. He does not realize that he can look at me, if my head is directly above him, he will step back to where he can comfortably look up at me. How can I get him sitting closer to my feet? He is generally very straight as far as being directly lined up with my feet, he is just too far away.

Secondly, on the finish, his position is never correct. Especially if he is trying really hard to make eye contact. He always tries to 'bow out' in order to look at me. How do I work on getting him closer to my leg without being crooked?

After typing this, I realize there is a common theme with both questions: He is uncomfortable craning his neck at steeper angles.

I have tried a few things in my readings which have helped somewhat, but nothing is consistent at all, and I'm curious to see what DT'ers opinions on this are. Also, if you have a specific book/video/person you recommend on this particular subject, let me know! THanks!
 

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Do you reward with food from your left hand? I have a neck issue so I have to use my right hand and it creates forging in a sit - Flirt leans around me to anticipate the food.

For a straight sit by your side, you can temporarily use a wall or something that makes him sit close by you. Then slowly fade the wall.

I should add - the first thing I'd do is make sure he can make eye contact in that position with his neck. If so, I'd practice it against a wall so he learns to hold his head that way. If not, I'd adjust how I ask for eye contact maybe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have been working on doing a lot in a narrow hallway, making him more comfortable being *very* close to me. While doing heel work, I hardly ever tell him the look command. He knows what "watch me" means, but he has figured out that if he is in heel position I want him to look at me, so I haven't been telling him much at all. I'm going to try more with with 'watching' while stuck between a wall and see how he does with that.

I mix up how I give him the treats and where I keep them because when I do it habitually he works for the treat and not for me ;) . So I use both hands sometimes. I may try using only my right hand while heeling to see if that gets his head turned in to me
 

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Give your treats with left hand straight above the dogs head. If you are giving them in front of your body, the dog will compensate one way or another. If you pull your hand in towards your body, dog's butt will go outside. If you push your hand out (to the left) dog's butt will go in. See if this helps.
 

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We'll start with the front. Using clicker training, would it be safe to assume you aren't using any corrective collar? IE, pinch? If so, it would be more difficult, but not impossible. Start with him in a front position, even if you just tell him to sit and you position yourself correctly. Work on the eye contact first. If you put his butt up against a wall you can step in close to him and every time he makes eye contact, feed him. Also, in all of your training and -especially- the front, feed from your mouth. I use hotdog, chicken breast, or string cheese. Put a nice chunk in your mouth and every time he does it right, pull a piece out and give it to him. He will learn very quickly that your hands don't matter, your face is producing the treats. Once he is comfortable in that angle, with his leash on (pinch or flat), step back about 6 inches with either foot and pop his leash towards you a bit to encourage him to come back into position. Don't pull or drag him, just a quick pop with your wrist as you recommand the front. As soon as he comes in close enough, free him up with whatever your release word is and play with him. Then try again. For now, don't have him do more than one adjustment. As he understands the game, you can have him do it more and more times before being released. I can doodle Dart all the way across a room doing fronts! Once he learns proper position and is comfortable with it, you can start adding more distance to the recalls. Until then, only have him out as far as the end of the leash. That way if he comes in too far, you can do the step back with a little pop to remind him to come in closer. Remember to reward the small improvements!

And for the finish, are you training a by finish? Or a flip finish? By is when they go around to your right side behind you and end up on your left, flip is when they 'flip' straight into heel position. The flip is definitely harder to keep straight! If you aren't using a pinch, the flip is harder to make quick and correct. The easiest way to correct issues in heel position is doodling and pivots. Now lets see if I can explain them without being confusing lol. Doodling is when you start in proper position, and teach the dog to find that position when you move. Just like you do with the front ^^^, but in heel! Start in good position, take a small step forward and have him find that same position. I train with correction, so if the dog is wrong, I correct them into the right position. It is possible to do it with a clicker, but it requires more time and patience! Simply keep doing it until he is 100% correct then reward big time!!! If he doesn't come into proper position, he doesn't earn the treat. Once he is good at that you can start pivots. Its the same thing but moving left or right. Instead of moving forward, for a -left- pivot, you would take your -right- foot and place it in front of your left at a 90 degree angle, then slowly (at first) rotate your body to the left winding up with your feet straight again. It helps teach the dog that they do in fact have a backside that can move independently from the front!! His front feet should remain relatively in the same spot and he should just swing his butt around to end up back in proper heel. Again feed from the mouth to encourage eye contact!! If he has a problem with this (most dogs do at first), when you go to turn, he will try to stand up and wind up facing you, or try to back away all together. So keep a leash on him, and a bellly band if you can, to prevent him from moving out. If you go into youtube and watch a schutzhund obedience routine, they have to do left about turns and left pivots are they way most people that I know train it. If you watch the dogs you'll see them swing the butt around but not the front. thats what you're going for. Once he grasps this concept, any time he is forging you can do a left pivot, and anytime he lags you can do a right pivot to correct it.

Hope this helps a bit! Good luck!
 

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Dunno if any of this will be helpful, or will apply to you...

Can you have someone watch you, or work with a mirror (a store plate glass window will work in a pinch)? I am wondering if your position is correct... shoulders straight... left shoulder neither dropped nor pulled back (which one tends to do when trying to see if the dog is correct). I am wondering if you are maybe leaning forward for fronts... if you are, stop it... if you aren't, maybe try leaning the slightest bit backwards. Cindy Sidell found that putting liver in her underwear resulted in great fronts LOL!

I don't know that storing food in one's mouth and then delivering it by hand will get focus on the face (maybe it will)... what WILL get focus is spitting food! Takes a bit of practice, but it not only works but is fun!

I have gotten the (possibly incorrect) impression that you are training alone. Is there a good obedience club from which you could take classes? Or, a local competitive OB person who gives privates?
 

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I switched recently from eye contact to fixed point focus in heeling and basic position. I work with a spotter or mirror to make sure the dog is correct. I add stress through low level stimulation on the e-collar or discomfort with the pinch if the dog is not correct. The same is true with distance in the front position. I think it would be difficult to achieve this without such corrections.

Actually I have the opposite problem, she wants to crash into me. This is true with most dogs in our system in the beginning, because they are in drive and know that is the safe place. Gradually they maintain a farther distance.

As far as fixed point I made the switch from eye contact by sticking a tug or ball under my left armpit and in the beginning would click before releasing the ball. It is difficult to avoid forging and crooked heeling by asking for eye contact in heeling or basic position.
 

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We'll start with the front. Using clicker training, would it be safe to assume you aren't using any corrective collar? IE, pinch? If so, it would be more difficult, but not impossible. Start with him in a front position, even if you just tell him to sit and you position yourself correctly. Work on the eye contact first. If you put his butt up against a wall you can step in close to him and every time he makes eye contact, feed him. Also, in all of your training and -especially- the front, feed from your mouth. I use hotdog, chicken breast, or string cheese. Put a nice chunk in your mouth and every time he does it right, pull a piece out and give it to him. He will learn very quickly that your hands don't matter, your face is producing the treats. Once he is comfortable in that angle, with his leash on (pinch or flat), step back about 6 inches with either foot and pop his leash towards you a bit to encourage him to come back into position. Don't pull or drag him, just a quick pop with your wrist as you recommand the front. As soon as he comes in close enough, free him up with whatever your release word is and play with him. Then try again. For now, don't have him do more than one adjustment. As he understands the game, you can have him do it more and more times before being released. I can doodle Dart all the way across a room doing fronts! Once he learns proper position and is comfortable with it, you can start adding more distance to the recalls. Until then, only have him out as far as the end of the leash. That way if he comes in too far, you can do the step back with a little pop to remind him to come in closer. Remember to reward the small improvements!

And for the finish, are you training a by finish? Or a flip finish? By is when they go around to your right side behind you and end up on your left, flip is when they 'flip' straight into heel position. The flip is definitely harder to keep straight! If you aren't using a pinch, the flip is harder to make quick and correct. The easiest way to correct issues in heel position is doodling and pivots. Now lets see if I can explain them without being confusing lol. Doodling is when you start in proper position, and teach the dog to find that position when you move. Just like you do with the front ^^^, but in heel! Start in good position, take a small step forward and have him find that same position. I train with correction, so if the dog is wrong, I correct them into the right position. It is possible to do it with a clicker, but it requires more time and patience! Simply keep doing it until he is 100% correct then reward big time!!! If he doesn't come into proper position, he doesn't earn the treat. Once he is good at that you can start pivots. Its the same thing but moving left or right. Instead of moving forward, for a -left- pivot, you would take your -right- foot and place it in front of your left at a 90 degree angle, then slowly (at first) rotate your body to the left winding up with your feet straight again. It helps teach the dog that they do in fact have a backside that can move independently from the front!! His front feet should remain relatively in the same spot and he should just swing his butt around to end up back in proper heel. Again feed from the mouth to encourage eye contact!! If he has a problem with this (most dogs do at first), when you go to turn, he will try to stand up and wind up facing you, or try to back away all together. So keep a leash on him, and a bellly band if you can, to prevent him from moving out. If you go into youtube and watch a schutzhund obedience routine, they have to do left about turns and left pivots are they way most people that I know train it. If you watch the dogs you'll see them swing the butt around but not the front. thats what you're going for. Once he grasps this concept, any time he is forging you can do a left pivot, and anytime he lags you can do a right pivot to correct it.

Hope this helps a bit! Good luck!
This is all excellent advice and I am sure that spitting from the mouth will help you a lot. Also doing the turns that Kbroome mentioned will help a lot. If you look at Rally signs then it will help you come up with fun exercises that are all about turns and heel position. I do a ton of left about turns when I need to get my dog focused. I would also break down every exercise to the simplest form. If you want to work on his neck flexibility then do a lot of spitting food when he is super close in front position. Don't combine it with the recall until he has the perfect ending position. Then add a very close recall.

Look into the Rally exercises and you will get lots of good ideas of what to practice. Good luck.
 

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Hmmm lots of good advice here!!. I am having a bit of the same issue... We are perfecting on leash heeling right now and just starting to gain some insights into off leash heeling. Scarlet has a sloppy finish though which we need to work on. We are using a slip collar, and what we are doing for our routine is... Starting in heel, stay, walk to the end of the leash, wait 10 seconds and do a recall in... Sit straight in front, step back get the dog to heel and finish. This is where she has a problem... She has started to swing her butt around and sit to the side and look up to me, so she is a bit twisted behind me. Any other suggestions on how to fix this? When she does it, I take an additional step forward and *usually* she will place herself into the proper position... but not always. and i don't want to have to keep finishing her like that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you all for the links and insight! Great advice I received and luckily you all hinted at a lot of the current book I've been reading. I am with an obedience and shutzhund trainer/occasional doberman breeder who is excellent! But time and $ limits how often we attend, so we do a lot of work at home, perfecting what is learned in class. I will try some of the techniques mentioned above and report back later. THanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
We'll start with the front. Using clicker training, would it be safe to assume you aren't using any corrective collar? IE, pinch? If so, it would be more difficult, but not impossible. Start with him in a front position, even if you just tell him to sit and you position yourself correctly. Work on the eye contact first. If you put his butt up against a wall you can step in close to him and every time he makes eye contact, feed him. Also, in all of your training and -especially- the front, feed from your mouth. I use hotdog, chicken breast, or string cheese. Put a nice chunk in your mouth and every time he does it right, pull a piece out and give it to him. He will learn very quickly that your hands don't matter, your face is producing the treats. Once he is comfortable in that angle, with his leash on (pinch or flat), step back about 6 inches with either foot and pop his leash towards you a bit to encourage him to come back into position. Don't pull or drag him, just a quick pop with your wrist as you recommand the front. As soon as he comes in close enough, free him up with whatever your release word is and play with him. Then try again. For now, don't have him do more than one adjustment. As he understands the game, you can have him do it more and more times before being released. I can doodle Dart all the way across a room doing fronts! Once he learns proper position and is comfortable with it, you can start adding more distance to the recalls. Until then, only have him out as far as the end of the leash. That way if he comes in too far, you can do the step back with a little pop to remind him to come in closer. Remember to reward the small improvements!

And for the finish, are you training a by finish? Or a flip finish? By is when they go around to your right side behind you and end up on your left, flip is when they 'flip' straight into heel position. The flip is definitely harder to keep straight! If you aren't using a pinch, the flip is harder to make quick and correct. The easiest way to correct issues in heel position is doodling and pivots. Now lets see if I can explain them without being confusing lol. Doodling is when you start in proper position, and teach the dog to find that position when you move. Just like you do with the front ^^^, but in heel! Start in good position, take a small step forward and have him find that same position. I train with correction, so if the dog is wrong, I correct them into the right position. It is possible to do it with a clicker, but it requires more time and patience! Simply keep doing it until he is 100% correct then reward big time!!! If he doesn't come into proper position, he doesn't earn the treat. Once he is good at that you can start pivots. Its the same thing but moving left or right. Instead of moving forward, for a -left- pivot, you would take your -right- foot and place it in front of your left at a 90 degree angle, then slowly (at first) rotate your body to the left winding up with your feet straight again. It helps teach the dog that they do in fact have a backside that can move independently from the front!! His front feet should remain relatively in the same spot and he should just swing his butt around to end up back in proper heel. Again feed from the mouth to encourage eye contact!! If he has a problem with this (most dogs do at first), when you go to turn, he will try to stand up and wind up facing you, or try to back away all together. So keep a leash on him, and a bellly band if you can, to prevent him from moving out. If you go into youtube and watch a schutzhund obedience routine, they have to do left about turns and left pivots are they way most people that I know train it. If you watch the dogs you'll see them swing the butt around but not the front. thats what you're going for. Once he grasps this concept, any time he is forging you can do a left pivot, and anytime he lags you can do a right pivot to correct it.

Hope this helps a bit! Good luck!


I usually use a prong collar 95% of the time while training, however if I for some reason forgot it, I'll use his flat collar or a slip. I also do the 'by' heel finish. The pivots were one of the first things I worked with him on to find the position and to get him using his back legs. He is very very good with left about pivots now and when I do them, his straightness is right on, I just would like to not have to do a pivot every time he isn't perfectly straight, so I will try the other recommendations as well! For now I'm going to work solely on the front, and try the 'game' you spoke of. It sounds like a very good way to get him comfortable with the finish position and simple enough for my boy to figure it out without getting frustrated. thanks a ton
 

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Ahhh, fronts and finishes. ;)

I do a lot of doodling. One of the first things I taught Rocket as a puppy was how to find heel. The second was what front position looked like.

The majority of my training is done with a clicker. The dogs I train - 3 Dobes and a Sibe - don't respond well to collar popping for these exercises. For front, it's important that you're not leaning over your dog. I can lure the dogs into front (I've actually taught them to step on my toes to begin with) and reward them for the position. I usually spit cheese straight down - not out. They learn that the reward comes from my face and only if they are thisclose to my body. I'll also ask for random sits, and then place myself in front, and reward them. I want them to know how a front feels and what it looks like from their POV.

For finishes, it's luring and rewards, again. To return to heel, I've taught the dogs to sit straight on a box - I'm teaching them muscle memory - how a heel should "feel" to them. Once they've graduated from a box, I tend to only ask for finishes near a barrier to provide a little bit of support if needed. The reward follows a straight line down from my shoulder to the dog's mouth - not in front, or behind.

Kaylee has started sitting farther back in her fronts in an attempt to keep eye contact with me. I've gone back to only rewarding her when she is extremely close, and only straight down. It appears as though I was spitting out too much, instead of down. ;)

Good luck!!
 
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I have a similar problem with my dog. He will sit off to the side and/or just behind my legs. What my TD has told me is to work on the specific behavior I want. So what I do is get next to a solid object(usually a fence) lure him into the position I want him in,we worked on the standing position, and the sitting in heel position. I will stand still and give very high value rewards for staying in that position. If he breaks the plain forward or backwards of where I wanted him, I will say no and walk away. Then bring him back to the fence and restart the exercise. This has helped me tremendously in his heeling and stop/sits while heeling.

I am bad about doing a set of behaviors with a dog and having one specific issue, but trying to correct it while going through the entire routine. Instead of isolating the specific behavior that is not correct and working on it.

Not sure if it is any help, just something I am currently doing with my dog in our training that has helped.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Lots of good tips here! Tperkins, sounds just like my issue as far as heel position goes XD He will come where he needs to be while standing though, and if not is easily lured to the correct position by a tap on my pant leg, but when he goes to sit, he thinks he HAS to back in order to sit down. We are going to work on the muscle memory to correct that and try the box idea. My only problem is finding a box thick enough and sturdy enough for him. He is oversized (due to some 'fabulous' breeding) at 95lbs and very leggy so he takes up a lot of room when sitting. In type of box or boundary idea would be great!

I also have the problem of not isolating the specific issue and trying to conquer too much at once. For now we're work on the heel position while sitting
 

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Lots of good tips here! Tperkins, sounds just like my issue as far as heel position goes XD He will come where he needs to be while standing though, and if not is easily lured to the correct position by a tap on my pant leg, but when he goes to sit, he thinks he HAS to back in order to sit down. We are going to work on the muscle memory to correct that and try the box idea. My only problem is finding a box thick enough and sturdy enough for him. He is oversized (due to some 'fabulous' breeding) at 95lbs and very leggy so he takes up a lot of room when sitting. In type of box or boundary idea would be great!

I also have the problem of not isolating the specific issue and trying to conquer too much at once. For now we're work on the heel position while sitting
Ahh...thanks. You just made me think of what to use. I have been pondering what to use for Kyrah for quite sometime now. I had used a mat and towel but they move. Now I know that I will be making a box shape out of PVC that I have sitting around. That way it wont have to support her weight.
 

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Lots of good tips here! Tperkins, sounds just like my issue as far as heel position goes XD He will come where he needs to be while standing though, and if not is easily lured to the correct position by a tap on my pant leg, but when he goes to sit, he thinks he HAS to back in order to sit down. We are going to work on the muscle memory to correct that and try the box idea. My only problem is finding a box thick enough and sturdy enough for him. He is oversized (due to some 'fabulous' breeding) at 95lbs and very leggy so he takes up a lot of room when sitting. In type of box or boundary idea would be great!

I also have the problem of not isolating the specific issue and trying to conquer too much at once. For now we're work on the heel position while sitting
You know, in reading this it sounded like your dog doesn't do a tuck sit. It makes it a lot harder to teach position in my opinion. Teach correct position was something I fought through many dogs and it finally clicked with me when I started training a young dog who had a natural "tuck" sit. All my other Dobes would put their shoulders even with my left leg and when they sat they left the rear in place and rocked back on to it--which meant they were immediately a little out of position. I could say "fix it" to any of them and they'd move up a step by hitching their rear up--THEN they'd be in proper position. Then I started to train the guy with a natural tuck sit--and realized that when he came to a stop beside me he didn't rock back onto his butt but instead tucked his butt forward and under him and his sits were always perfect.

Find a mirror and see if that's what's going on. I retrained one of my rock back sitters to move one step too far in front of me (since he was a forger anyway it wasn't hard to convince him to do that) and then when he sat and rocked back he was still in position.

Lotsa luck--it's the little stuff that'll drive you crazy.

But the spit the reward really works well particularly to position fronts--the breeder of one of my dogs actually took a class in how to properly spit bait at your dogs for perfection in Obedience. Her dogs would front with their toes against hers and their chest practically on her knees and wait for that pucker and spit. It was a crack up to watch them.
 

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Enjoying this thread- currently trying to teach heel to my puppy... It's hard with a little dog!
 
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