Kickin Up Week 3

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Kickin Up Heeling Training Log week 3

Kickin Up Heeling week 3 Points to Remember

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24/7Heeling GamesOne-Way FocusDIGHandler CuesPrecisionDuration?????U-Asked
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Food is a valuable training tool.  When food is used correctly it enhances your dog’s training and helps to motivate your dog. Rewards and reinforcements should be given equal to the amount of effort that your dog gives you. Learn to read your dog and recognize those times when he offers you the utmost effort. Always remember that Effort is not always precision. Teach your dog that in exchange for maximum effort he will earn a treats, a toy, or petting, and praise!

Training SECRET Learning to read your dog’s error.   During training, your dog may not always be as precise as you would like. At these times, it is important to recognize the cause of his imperfection. Is he trying hard to do what you want or is he actually “hardly trying”?  Lack of effort should NEVER be rewarded. In most instances, true effort, even if precision is lacking, should be rewarded. WHY?  Because we want our dogs to continue to try and to work.   We do not want our dogs freezing up, stopping work, or shutting down. 

Learning to recognize, reinforce, and reward your dog’s “EFFORT” will give your dog the confidence and desire to continue working with you even as your training sessions become more complex and difficult.

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Training SECRET – Observation is a sure way to gain success!  Over the years I have learned HOW to watch dogs closely.  HOW?  I pay attention to the dog’s face and attitude. When I first started training, I videotaped all my training sessions.  After the session, I would let my dog rest in his crate and I would spend time watching the video.  First, I would watch how my dog was responding to my cues, turns, commands, etc.  Next, I would watch my cues AND responses with rewards, games or consequences.  Over the years this  taught me timing and when and how to reward or play a game.


Remember to teach any new heeling game in a stationary position with your dog at your side. Say “get it” to your dog to let your dog know that a treat/toy is coming.

GAME 7: Thumb touch – I use the back of my hand/thumb so that my dog doesn’t confuse the “touch” signal with a stand or a stay signal.

  • Have your dog either facing you or at your left side. Do NOT have your dog in a sit.
  • Small dog?  It is easier if you are sitting in a chair or on the floor.
  • Hold small high value treats in your Left hand.
  • Put the back of your LEFT hand with your thumb close to and in front of your dog’s nose.
  • When your dog moves toward your LEFT hand, “mark” his behavior with your Reward Mark Word.
  • Turn your hand over and give your dog a treat.
  • Repeat this sequence of presenting the back of your LEFT hand to your dog, “marking” the desirable behavior, then turning your hand over and rewarding your dog.

Once you are sure that your dog will touch your thumb when presented, start saying your “cue word” (such as “Touch”) as soon as your dog begins to move toward your hand.

  • When your dog is readily touching your thumb on command, start delaying the delivery of the treat.
  • As soon as he bumps your thumb with his nose, say your “Reward Mark Word”, turn your hand over and reward your dog with the treat.
  • When your dog is touching your thumb on “command” only reward your dog for touches that you have asked for and begin to vary when your give your dog a reward for touching your hand.
  • Finally, over many repetitions, wean off using your verbal “touch” command and make the cue just the “presentation” of your thumb.
  • Ask your dog to heel or move slowly forward, then present your thumb to your dog.
  • The Thumb Touch is a great way to keep your dog’s attention on you and his head up while heeling and or moving forward.

GAME 8: Spinteaches your dog to turn clockwise on command.

  • Have your dog standing in front of you.
  • Place a treat in your right hand.
  • Lure your dog with the food in your right hand in a CLOCKWISE direction, making a complete circle.
  • If your dog resists going in a complete circle, reward at the start of the turn, then in the middle and finally on competition of the turn.
  • Say , “SPIN” as your dog moves in the circle.
  • If your dog tries to sit, hold the treat lower and closer to your dog so that the treat encourages your dog’s head to be level.

Once your dog is doing a Spin easily in front of you, start adding the spin in heel position.

  • Have your dog in heel position or standing at your left side.
  • Ask your dog to spin at your side by putting a high value treat in your left hand and making a small circle with your treat hand so your dog spins clockwise and returns to heel position.
  • Remember your dog should not move forward past your side while completing the spin.
  • When you dog will spin at your side and return to your side easily, start to heel in slow pace and add a spin as you slowly heel forward.
  • When your dog will spin at your side and return to heel position at slow pace, start asking for a spin in normal pace.

GAME 9: Twirl

These are great heeling games but they are also useful for your dog’s warm-up or cool down before or after showing or training. The tighter the turn the better!

TWIRL – teaches the dog to turn counter-clockwise on command.

  • Have your dog standing in front of you.
  • Place a treat in your left hand.
  • Lure your dog with your left hand in a counter-clockwise direction, making a complete circle.
  • If your dog resists going in a complete circle, reward at the start of the turn, then in the middle and finally on competition of the turn.
  • Say “Twirl” as your dog moves in the circle.
  • If your dog tries to sit, hold the treat closer to your dog so that the treat encourages your dog’s head to be held level.

Once your dog is doing Twirl easily in front of you –

  • Have your dog in heel position or standing at your left side.
  • Ask your dog to twirl at your side by putting a treat in your left hand and making a small counter-clockwise circle around so your dog twirls and returns to heel position.
  • Remember your dog should not move forward past your side when he completes the twirl.
  • When you dog will twirl at your side and return to your side, start to heel in slow pace adding twirl as you slowly heel.
  • Once twirling in slow pace, ask for a twirl when you are heeling in normal pace.

Video Notes: In the first clip, Riker is learning the “Thumb Touch”.  At first, I PRESENT the thumb/or back of hand while we are standing still.  Riker simply reaches to touch my hand.  Once he is confident, I have him jump up a little higher to touch my thumb.  If he uses his paws on my hand, I simply tell him he is incorrect and repeat.   Sly demonstrates the thumb touch in heeling.  Spin and twirl are 2 FUN games.  Rip demonstrates both in teaching as well as at heel.  The Spin is always harder for the dog as he has to go away from you while heeling.  Remember to start your heeling with your dog in a stand or go into heeling from play (i.e. while in motion). Keep the way you begin heeling random and fun!





  • Your dog is not jumping up to touch our thumb.  First, review the foundation game “Jump to Hand“.   Second, after reviewing “Jump to Hand”, try lowering your hand to encourage the touch.  Only after your dog is readily touching, over multiple repetitions you should hold your thumb higher.  Only progress once your dog is touching/jumping confidently.
  • Your dog is having a tough time turning a tight circle during the teaching of the spin or twirl.  Slow your hand motion down or hold your hand closer to your dog.  Make it easier for your dog.  Over time and repetitions, SLOWLY speed up the signal and raise your hand.

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Training SECRET – My dogs focus on me because they never know what they will miss if they look away :>)  Any attention getting techniques such as corrections and physical interactions are always non-audible.  That means no verbal, clicking, clapping, squeaking toy, etc.


Adding One-Way focus to slow pace heeling.
Review One-Way Focus while stationary before proceeding.

It is helpful to be heading towards a mirror or something in which you can see your reflection and your dog.

  • Start with your dog at your left side.
  • Move at slow pace in a straight line with your dog.
  • Focus forward so that you are NOT “looking” directly at your dog.
  • I prefer looking about 2″ on the floor in front of me since this is where I will be looking when heeling in the ring.
  • Take 2-4 steps forward.
  • If your dog maintains attention on you, reward your dog WITHOUT LOOKING AT YOUR DOG!!!
  • If your dog looks away from you, immediately play one of the HEELING GAMES or the “U-Missed it” Game.
  • You can look at your dog AFTER you have delivered the reward.

Once you can heel a few steps in slow pace without looking at your dog and your dog remaining focused on you, start adding more steps.  Lastly, practice One-way Focus at normal pace.

Going to a new location.  Once your dog is successful while heeling in slow and normal pace in One-Way Focus at home or in a non-distracting environment, it’s time to practice One-Way Focus in a new location. To begin with, keep distractions low and only increase the distractions once your dog understands and is successful while doing One-Way Focus.

Training Tip
Dogs usually will get distracted or look away under similar circumstances. EXAMPLE: My golden, Solo, would always just have to look on right and about turns. Once I noticed the common theme, I start becoming more PROACTIVE when training. I was prepared to play one of the Heeling games or the “U-Missed It” Game and then tease him. With persistence on my part, Solo soon learned to focus on me regardless of the direction we were turning!

Video Notes: 2-e and Gretchen demonstrate One-Way Focus in a new location.  First, Gretchen reviews stationary focus and afterwards starts to add movement.  Notice that Gretchen does a great job of looking at the ground a few feet in front of her as they heel forward.  Also, she does not look at her dog until after delivering the toy to 2-e.





  • Your dog isn’t remaining focused on you.  Build duration slowly and use high value rewards and loads of play.  The more energy YOU put into training One-Way Focus, the more you will get from your dog.
  • Your dog just isn’t thrilled about training.  Make sure your dog is hungry and WANTING attention.  Some ideas could be to feed your dog half his rations and give the other half during training. Try crating your dog for an hour before training so he is looking forward to being with you.

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This week we are going to “Kick Up” the distractions a bit.   You will need to recruit a friend and their dog to help you.  Please make sure the team is friendly.  This is also a great training session for your friend to work on stays with distractions. :>)

Training SECRET – Focus on criteria and NOT point deduction. My criteria is much more precise than AKC rules. In the long run if my dog trains and shows to my criteria there will be no points for a judge to deduct. :>)  However, you must determine your criteria and then stick to it.


DIG – Moving towards a stationary dog.

  • Have your friend’s dog in a down or sit stay.  The handler can be with their dog or can leave their dog in the stay.
  • Start with your dog in a stand or fall into heeling from play.
  • Slowly heel your dog toward the seated/down dog.
  • Release and reward your dog BEFORE your dog acknowledges the other dog. When you release your dog use any of the Heeling Games or the “Jump to the Hand” Game.
  • Be careful not to disturb the other dog when you release and play with your dog.
  • Go back to where you started and again heel towards the sitting/down dog.  This time try to get a foot closer to where you released your dog before.
  • If you dog looks at the sitting/down dog, mentally mark the distance.
  • Go back and try again only this time release your dog BEFORE he looks at the sitting/down dog.

KICKIN IT EVEN MORE – Moving towards a moving dog/person team.

  • Start with your dog in a stand or fall into heeling from play.
  • While your friend and her/his dog are walking, playing, or heeling around, slowly heel your dog toward the other team.
  • Release and reward your dog BEFORE your dog acknowledges the other team.
  • Repeat moving toward the moving team again, releasing BEFORE your dog acknowledges the other team.
  • Repeat the sequences until your dog is confident.
  • This may mean practicing many repetitions in many training sessions.
  • Remember to use the “Heeling Games” to keep your dog focused and motivated.
  • This is mentally taxing on a dog so keep your training sessions short.

Proofing against distractions is a lengthy process. Do not rush or take shortcuts.

Video Notes:  Gretchen and One are practicing DIG in this clip.   One is a bit nervous heeling and focusing on Gretchen as they heel around Rip.  Rip is the dog in the down and is very bored.   LOL  Towards the end of the session and with LOADS of fun play, One does become more relaxed.  Gretchen will need to repeat this set up with different dogs so that One will start to generalize the set up.    Next, Gretchen and 2-e and Rip and I practice heeling past each other.  Note, when we are releasing and playing.  Depending on the level of the dogs working, we might need to reward earlier to build confidence. 





  • While you are working around the stationary dog, your dog shows signs of worry.  SIMPLIFY and heel further away.  ONLY once your dog is confident will you move a little bit closer to the other dog.  Do not rush getting closer to the seated/downed dog until your dog is confident!
  • Your dog is not giving effort while working.  Make training sessions short. Only do a few repetitions and then give your dog a crate break.  Also, try to train when your dog is hungry and WANTING your attention.

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HANDLER CUES – Pace Changes

This week we will add pace change transitions. There are four basic speed transitions you will need while you are heeling.

SLOW TO NORMAL TRANSITION: Slow pace should be about half the speed of your normal pace. The length of your stride is not reduced only your speed. When thinking of your “rhythm”, add an “and” pause for your slow pace count. The rhythm count becomes “1 and, 2 and, 3 and”, etc.  When you transition from slow to normal, you want to make the pace change in 1 or 2 steps. When you go from slow to normal pace, push off with your foot to build up your momentum. Keep your shoulders slightly forward and move your eyes from 1 foot in front of you (slow pace) to about 2 feet in front of you (normal pace). All of these slight changes are cues to your dog that a pace change is coming.

NORMAL TO SLOW TRANSITION: Use a rolling break step (slowly roll from heel to toe) to transition from normal to slow pace. Move your eyes to about 1 foot in front of you rather than the 2 feet in normal pace. Keep shoulders and weight slightly forward (do not lean back or your dog will think it is a halt).

NORMAL TO FAST TRANSITION: In FAST pace, ideally, you need to actually RUN. When you transition from normal to fast, move your shoulders slightly forward, and push off with your foot. When heeling at a fast pace, your arms can move from the normal heeling position to swinging at your side to assist you with your balance and ability to actually run. You will want to look about 4-6 feet in front of you during fast.

FAST TO NORMAL TRANSITION: From fast pace, use a rolling break step (slowly roll from heel to toe) to go back into normal pace. Focus your eyes back to about 2 feet in front of you. Move your arms back to proper heeling position, keeping your shoulders and weight over your hips. When going back to a normal pace, remember that your left arm should return to an acceptable position that is dependent on the venue you show.

Training SECRET – When learning how to handle pace changes, I verbally record many different heeling sequences or patterns.  Then I replay what I had recorded and practice my heeling footwork without my dog. These sequences can simulate what I might experience in the ring with a judge calling heeling.  I will not do this drill until my handling and cues for heeling, turns, and pace changes are second nature. 

Video Notes:  hahahahhahaha  It actually drives me nuts not having a dog to heel with.  BUT as you can see it is a good drill.  Videotaping gives me an opportunity to check what my feet are doing.  Also, I can watch my head cues to see if I am looking where I am going.  These cues are what my dog sees the second before I start a turn, halt or change pace so all my cues have to be perfect.

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Off leash heeling is often a troublesome area when training. What I do is video my training and analyze my session to determine if my dog is ready for off leash heeling.

I ask myself the following questions as I am looking at the video:

  • Did I give my dog extra cues to stay in heel position?  Extra cues include leash pops, verbal encouragement, patting my leg, etc.  These extra cues will “bite me” when I decide to try off-leash heeling with my dog.  All extra cues, commands, and leash pops should be non-existent BEFORE you attempt off-leash heeling. 
  • Did I advertise that I have food and toys ready to reward?  Did my dog see me load my pockets or mouth with food?   Try to hide toys/treats on you or in the training area BEFORE getting your dog out and ready to train.
  • Did I advertise that I am getting ready to play a game or was the game spontaneous and a surprise?  Was I slow marking a great effort or fumbled with a toy or treats when I was breaking into a SURPRISE reward?  Be ready and prepared to respond at a moments notice!
  • Can I take my dog from a crate or car without any food/toys or warm-up and start training? No acclimation time to a new location is getting my dog use to a show environment.  My dog should be able to get out of a crate or even a sound sleep and go right to work in a happy engaged manner.
  • Did my dog heel in a way that meets my criteria?  When I get ready to go off leash, my dog should understand and be able to perform every skill to my criteria.
  • Does my dog understand his responsibility to pay attention to me as well as maintain heel position?
  • Do I have consequences for lack of effort or errors when my dog is heeling?  Once my dog understands the teaching level, it’s time to shift the responsibility of the skill to my dog.  This means there is a consequence for the lack of enthusiasm and/or effort.  I use a consequence that matches my dog’s temperament. 

Only after you and your dog are confident and you have tested your heeling should you begin to heel off leash. Before heeling off leash take the time to assess your heeling.

Here are a few ways to work on your heeling off leash.
Once you begin working on off-leash heeling, remember to go back to foundations and put your leash back on if your dog falters while heeling. Even with my advanced dogs, I ALWAYS review foundations on a regular basis, i.e. once a week or month I review foundations for turns, pace changes, etc.  This is where I “polish” our skills.

There are several ways to teach/train off leash heeling.  One is to just take the leash off.  hahahahah  The other is to use a Light Line (LL).  I will review both in this section.

LIGHT LINES (LL)– is a string, shoe laces tied together, or a short light weight leash that your dog does not know is attached.

The LL is used to ensure your dog can’t leave or get into a dangerous situation.  It can be used to correct your dog for an incorrect response. In my opinion, Light lines (LL) are most likely one of the most misused tools.

When using a LL, your dog must NEVER know it is on. If you correct your dog or should the LL become tight for any reason your regular leash HAS to go back on your dog’s collar.  Your dog will now have 2 leashes on him, your regular leash and the LL.  This method is how I FINALLY trained my Siberian Husky, Rasha, to heel off leash.  hahahaha  Rasha taught me a lot about dog training and the LL work was the reason for our success when heeling off leash.

How to Use a Light Line PDF

How to train the LL

  • Put your regular leash and the LL on your dog.
  • You can put both leashes on one collar or have 2 collars on your dog and attach a leash to each collar.
  • Heel with your dog for a 5-10 steps with both leashes on your dog.
  • Stop heeling and take your leash off but not the LL.
  • Heel again for 5-10 steps.
  • If your dog heels to your criteria, REWARD and play with your dog.  Now put your leash back on your dog to continue training.
  • If your dog makes a mistake, use a consequence or correct him with a pop on the LL.
  • Now, STOP and put your regular leash back on your dog.
  • Repeat the heeling skill that you had to correct to see if your dog gives more effort to be correct.
  • For example, if your dog was inattentive on a turn, you played a push and run away game.  Your dog was caught off guard and the LL became tight or even popped your dog. You need to put your regular leash back on your dog, train that turn again and reward your dog if your dog was correct.  THEN take off the regular leash and try it again with just the LL. PLEASE remember to stop and play with your dog if he is correct or gives effort, then put the regular leash back on your dog.

Video Notes:  Gretchen and 2-e demonstrate using a LL.  I like using a small LL that will be hard for the dog to see.  Gretchen is using a white shoe lace so you can see it easier.  Note how 2-e is looking at Gretchen while she puts on or takes off the leash.  This is a valuable skill and is taught in Week 1 under the “Bonus” tab. 


Do you have a Consequence for your dog when he makes a mistake during off-leash heeling?

If you want to just take your leash off your dog to do your off leash heeling, you need to have a consequence for your dog when he makes a mistake.

A consequence can be anything your dog wants to avoid.  Anything can be used from a pop on his leash to a game where your dog doesn’t get the reward. If you are heeling and your dog makes an error, what will you do?

Showing my dog where he needs to be.

While I am training and if my dog makes an error, I sometimes feel he needs to be shown where he needs to be.  I do consider this a consequence for my dog’s lack of effort or correctness.  When the error is made, I will mark the mistake first.  I use a word like “I don’t think so” or “nope, try harder.” Then I calmly and slowly take my dog’s collar with my left hand and his muzzle with my right hand as shown in the photos. I then calmly place my dog where he should have been. The direction you move your dog is depended on the error.  For example, sideways towards me for being too wide, backwards for forging, etc. After I have moved my dog, I praise and release my dog to a game of tug or the “KrazyKookie” Game.  After play my dog gets the opportunity to try skill again.

NOTE: My dogs except my taking them by the collar and muzzle.  If your dog resists or becomes defensive when you do this, you will need to condition your dog for this before you use it in training.  In other words, take your dog’s collar in your left and while you praise your dog and give your dog a treat. Release.  Then take your dog’s muzzle, praise him, give him a treat.  Take both the collar and muzzle, praise and give your dog a treat.  Usually dogs respond quickly to this but take your time if needed.

When you practice heeling think HOW will you respond IF your dog makes a mistake.  Will you Push and Play, play the “U-Missed-It” Game, etc.?  Show your dog where he should have been?  Be PROACTIVE when you train.  PLAN AHEAD!

If your dog knows the skill, there should be a consequence applied such as a pop on the leash, taking your dog calmly and placing where he should be, playing a game where your dog misses the reward, etc.

Video Notes:  Rip helps me demonstrate how I will take his muzzle and collar and place him where he needs to be.  At marker 1:04, I pretend Rip makes an error. I say “nope” and move him to where he should be.  I take my time, I mosey (since I from Texas) :>), and let Rip really understand the error before heeling again.  Rip doesn’t mind the consequence but he does understand afterwards that he needs to try harder.  In the demo, I move Rip to the side or forward.  The direction you move your dog is depended on the error.  Sideways for too wide.  Backwards for forging, etc.





  • Your dog is heeling differently when off leash.  Most likely you are giving extra cues while heeling on leash.  Maybe you are inadvertently tightening your leash, giving extra verbal cues such as “hurry” or “watch” or advertising/visible treats or toys.  Video yourself heeling your dog on leash.   Analyzing any additional cues or help you may be giving to your dog.
  • Your dog is tentative when you heel him off leash. Watch your pace between on and off leash heeling. Many times we slow down due to lack of confidence in our dog’s ability to heel. Heel with purpose and confidence in the skills your dog knows.
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Building duration with all your skills is so important for your success when showing.

When starting a new dog, I spend most of the time building the DESIRE to work/play with me. I do this with games such as the “Get It” Game, tug, or the “KrazyKookie” Game.  Only when my dog LOVES the play will I start to add teaching skills. I will start training duration once my dog has the desire and knows the skills.  I’ll add more time or length to our training a little bit at a time.  Over many sessions I will increase the duration of training/playing.

When starting to add duration to a skill, such as heeling, I’ll add more time or length to our training a little bit at a time.  Over many sessions I will increase the duration of training/playing.

My training session might look like this: Sly and I are going out to train.  Sly already knows all the skills in heeling and he has the DESIRE on all the skills, so I feel it is time to start building duration time before rewarding. Does your dog have to know all the pieces of heeling before adding duration?  No!  But your dog does need to have the desire and knowledge of any skill before you start adding duration.

When building duration during heeling I will always start with long straight lines.  Once I am confident my dog can do this, I will go to new locations to test.  Only when I am sure my dog knows his job and can heel in a straight line for a given period of time will I start adding turns to the heeling duration training.  If at anytime I see that my dog is becoming bored or not as energetic, I immediately start adding more games.

Example of adding duration to heeling.

Today, I have planned to add duration to heeling.  Sly and I will do long straight line heeling.  Approximately 75-100 feet.  I will be watching Sly for lack of attention or boredom.  If I see either of these, I know that I am pushing him too fast.  While heeling in the line, I am going to add 1 spin and 2 thumb touches.  This will help reward Sly without releases, thus maintaining heeling and building on duration.

During this session, I will always be ready to add in a Heeling or “U-Missed It” Game for lack of effort or attention.  Also, I will always add in some shorter straight line heeling sequences so the “Game” of heeling will stay interesting and fun.

All in all it is about balance. Balance between how much work/training to how much play. My balance always shifts to the side of building desire and drive. I feel that if I have a dog that wants to work, I can do just about anything with him :>)

Training SECRET – I ALWAYS STOP BEFORE MY DOG WANTS TO! That way my dog is ALWAYS wanting more.

Last thought about adding duration – Build time duration when doing games for focus.  Such as when I do a Push and Play.  I will Push, then let my dog stare at me for a few seconds and then play for reward of looking at me.  Over time, I will add on to those few seconds so my dog will have to have a longer duration before getting the reward.  :>)

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Welcome to your Kickin Up 2.0 Week 3

What Heeling Game was NOT taught this week?
We are introducing what skill in One Way Focus this week?
DIG introduces what this week?
We are over half way through the course.  Please let me know the one thing that you have enjoyed the most so far?

This section is dedicated to the question “What is your Number 1 heeling problem?” from the questionnaire on the Welcome Page. I am going to talk, give input and ideas of what to look for and how to fix some of the problems that were listed. Many of the problems are related to training that is covered in the class.

It is important to note that reviewing foundations is essential with every dog at any level. It does not matter if my dog is a novice dog or one that only needs a few more points for his OTCH. I review foundations on a regular basis. If my dog has a particular issue, yes my dogs are not perfect, I review foundations for that skill regularly in training, i.e. I mark it in my notebook and on the calendar when I will review/train that skill so I don’t forget it. :>0



I want my heeling to look happier, more drive, and not so serious.

Keep your dog guessing.  Maintain fun in training AND showing is the way to go. Use all the heeling games randomly. DO NOT get into a rut and only use one game. Mix and match and have FUN!  Also working on One-Way Focus will help to shift to your dog the responsibility to watch you WITHOUT a cue.

Mixing up heeling and staying out of what I call the “Exercise BOX.”  I have an article on my blog


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