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    1. #1
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      There's heeling... then there's HEELING-heeling.

      I've sort of gotten bogged down in my campaign to fix her line behavior. Hit a snag. She does a little hop-thing when the winger goes off, even if she doesn't move forward. I haven't really known what to do about it. It's seemed reflexive to me.

      So, I bagged it. Decided to focus on exiting the holding blind. IOW... we started to really concentrate on heeling.

      In the Obedience ring, it's like handlers want their dogs to look up at them. This is somewhat counter-productive in field work. However, while LOOKING at me isn't effective, paying attention to me is absolutely necessary. Hmmm, so how do I know (if she's not looking at me) that she is paying perfect attention to me?

      I've found that the vertical midline of her ear has to be parallel to the seam of my pants leg. If she is even a few millimeters ahead of that line, she can see around my leg and becomes loose (or, as we would say... self-employed.) Lagging is no issue with her, only "surging".

      So that's what we've worked on. HEELING-heeling (precise as a bunch of Nazi youth at a Nuremberg rally, if you will), auto sit. Heeling. Stay. Down. Recall, more heeling etc. And then some more heeling. No direct pressure. From this holding blind to that one, to the lawn-chair, to the bush, back to a holding blind etc. If she surges (even a fraction of an inch) oops... we have to go back to the holding blind or wherever she was when she started to get ahead of me. (Boy, she really hates that.)

      Great. Heeling is a nice thing to work on.

      But here's the funny thing. When she's heeling precisely, like a machine, her little reflexive flinch goes away. If she's the eeeeeniest, weeniest little bit ahead of me, no matter what, even if we arrive at the line at the same time... she does that flinch-hop thing. But, when she's heeling with precision, she doesn't. She sits like a stone and only her head moves watching the flight of the bumper.

      Can someone explain this to me? I've done everything I can think of to minimize that reflexive flinch. I'd never have figured heeling exercises would fix it.

    2. #2
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      Who knows. Maybe she just has more focus on you if you heel to the line with attention versus letting her surge ahead focusing elsewhere.

    3. #3
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      Quote Originally Posted by Labradorks View Post
      Who knows. Maybe she just has more focus on you if you heel to the line with attention versus letting her surge ahead focusing elsewhere.
      That would be my guess. That’s she’s got enough focus on the heeling to get rid of the extra hyper-focus on the winger.

      And had to laugh at your description of your heeling practice - welcome to my world, LOL.
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    4. #4
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      Whoa! I just bought the Hillmann video on heeling because it was strongly recommended t me. Wow. It's not really about heeling, (well, it is... but...) it's more about focus. Really perfect for the field sports and for pet owners or anyone who wants a happy, focused dog and for whom heeling is not being graded.

      This is going to be fabulous now that I know the flinch-step reflex she has when the winger goes off is actually not a reflex at all.

    5. #5
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      Uh, I'm not sure whether to be ecstatic or worried. She is following me around like we were in an obedience ring. I mean, I want her to look where we are going but still have her focus on me. But, whatever... for now her face is on me, eyes bright, tail all waggy, sits like a machine. There is a rare sit that is too far forward. She self-corrects.

      No marks or wingers. Just heeling. Brief sessions several times/day. Her heeling was not bad before we started the Hillmann method. Perfectly acceptable. But this is in another universe.

    6. #6
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      You should take advantage and try putting an Obedience title on her over the winter when the weather isn’t conducive to outdoor stuff!

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    8. #7
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      I don't think it matters that she is focused on you when you walk up to the line. I know there is "focus forward heeling" but for actual field work, your criteria will break down and she will be splitting her attention so it should not be an issue. Even in obedience when we are about to do a go out, Linus has a hard time focusing on me before the send when he figures out what we're about to do. I do use a cue to look/mark to let him know what we are doing, but there are times when he knows, like when we are doing them over and over. If I do not get him to focus on me until further notice, there is a higher probability that he will anticipate, much like you're experiencing.

      I was having some issues with Linus from the blind to the line, like pretty much everyone has at some point once their dog has figured out what is going on. He'd pull to some degree and literally walk to the line and sit and wait if he had a chance. He was certainly communicating that he did not require my help to do his job! The issue I was having was that he was so NOT focused on me, that he couldn't even hear me. You could just see him 100% focused on the field and if I could read his mind all he could probably hear was himself going, "OMG! BIRD! OMG! BIRD! OMG! BIRD!" So, I started using my "with me" cue and then five (give or take) "yes" and feeds in position in a row. At first it's "yes" and feed all the way to the line in position, then I gradually decreased. I practice this going to his favorite places: into a store, into training buildings, to the potty yard at the training building, etc. When I went to the seminar in July from the blind to the line was a think of beauty and also without a leash. Over the past few years I have tried stopping, going back to the blind, backing up, etc. and it was relatively ineffective. What I did end up doing was so effective that it is now how we go between exercises in obedience because it keeps him focused even under pressure and distraction and he has a really high CER due to all of the food.

    9. #8
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      You should take advantage and try putting an Obedience title on her over the winter when the weather isn’t conducive to outdoor stuff!

      I would work on her CD (maybe now that she's chill around unfamiliar dogs) but that stupid Stand for Exam... yeah,not happening. Unless the dog gets extra points for licking and slobbering all over the judge while doing a little dance.

      Over the past few years I have tried stopping, going back to the blind, backing up, etc. and it was relatively ineffective. What I did end up doing was so effective that it is now how we go between exercises in obedience because it keeps him focused even under pressure and distraction and he has a really high CER due to all of the food.

      That is way cool and if fits well with what this Hillmann deal is about, sorta. The main way in which it is the same is to (obviously) get the dog to focus on you. The surest way to do that is to make you the source of all wonderfulness. (Treat, toy, etc.) And then to use that relationship to condition the dog. (Repetition and a buzz on the e-collar... or repetition and a small pop on the leash, initially, or a clicker or whatever.)

      The other deal per Hillmann is excitement... that OMGIT'SADUCK and OMGTHEY'RESHOOTINGGUNS and FEATHERSFEATHERSFEATHERS... like you described. He deliberately juices the dog up into that state, then gets them to contain it.

      So, doing 20 seconds of mad-bumper-play (You want it??? Huh, huh??? Really, really??? You DO??? Are you really, really, sure you want it? OK!!!!) then toss, then when she comes roaring back, SIT. She plants it. We begin heeling drills again, then wash, rinse, repeat.

      So... what is CER?
      Last edited by TuMicks; 10-01-2017 at 04:49 PM.

    10. #9
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      Quote Originally Posted by TuMicks View Post
      I would work on her CD (maybe now that she's chill around unfamiliar dogs) but that stupid Stand for Exam... yeah,not happening. Unless the dog gets extra points for licking and slobbering all over the judge while doing a little dance.
      You know, even though you might think the exercise is stupid (and it’s really not - although it originated with the breed ring, it can be handy for vet appointments), it’s just another way to work on her impulse control, which could transfer over into other things .... It’s not really that difficult to teach.

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    12. #10
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      Quote Originally Posted by Annette47 View Post
      You know, even though you might think the exercise is stupid (and it’s really not - although it originated with the breed ring, it can be handy for vet appointments), it’s just another way to work on her impulse control, which could transfer over into other things .... It’s not really that difficult to teach.
      No, no... not that it's stupid at all. I've just never been able to get her to do it.

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