Heeling Stick Technique

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djonathang
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Heeling Stick Technique

Post by djonathang » Tue Feb 19, 2008 7:47 pm

Hello All,

I am seriously interested in having my 6 month old lab learn to heel at my side (not a length in front or 3 feet to my side). I purchased a heeling stick to aid in the process, but have never used one.

I was wondering whether someone can point me in the direction of a quality link - perhaps a video - so I can see how it is employed.

I'm a bit confused on how to use the lead in conjunction with the stick which is in the hand on the side where the dog is to be heeling.

Anyway, a quality description would suffice if no video link is available.

Thanks much.

DG

Goosehunterdog

Post by Goosehunterdog » Tue Feb 19, 2008 8:09 pm

Fowldawgs 1 shows a good session of Obediance or Smartwork Obediance..I have them in stock if interested..You can see at the link below.

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djonathang
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Post by djonathang » Tue Feb 19, 2008 8:28 pm

I was hoping for a link to a website rather than a purchase. Thank you.

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gonehuntin'
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Post by gonehuntin' » Tue Feb 19, 2008 8:36 pm

This is a complete post on using a heeling stick for retriever training. It is a permanent part of another BB so I copied it and will post it here for you. I wrote it for them a few months or so ago.


The stick is used for heel, sit, down, fetch, and back. As far as i'm concerned, the best uses are heel, sit, and down.

For sit.

Walk the dog at heel, stick at your right side. Stop, pull back on the lead, command "sit". As you do, place your right hand behind your back and rotate your palm to the left, so the palm faces down. Tap his butt with the stick. You do it this way because it you were to do it by swinging the stick around the front of your knees, you'd flare the dog or make it crouch. You get instantaneous sits with this method. Let the dog try to beat the stick. Comand "sit" or blow one blast of the whistle and if that wiggly little but is not instantly on the ground, tap with the heeling stick. If the dog start squirting off to the side, then come from the front with the heeling stick and tap his outside rear flank, commanding "sit". This brings him back in line with your body position and give you a nice sit.

Heel.

Walk the dog at heel, stick in right hand, angled 45 degrees down and across your knees. This gives the dog a visual barrier to see, allowing him to understand exactly where the safe and desired heeling position it. If the dog tries to forge ahead, tap him lightly on the chest, pull back on the lead, and command "heel". If he applies the brakes and drag's behind, agian reach behind you, tap his butt repeatidly, pull forward on the lead, and command "heel". With just a lead and choker, the dog has no idea for a while what you actually want. The stick gives him a visual clue and barrier he can not pass. It is the absolute fastest and easiest way to teach a dog to heel.

Down is fairly obvious. After you have taught the dog to down by applying pressure on the lead and choker, simply reinforce it when he does not instantly comply by placing the stick over his back. He will immediately down. If not, tap him on the back.

For "fetch", the stick is substituted for the ear pinch after the dog has been through the pinch. It is the preliminary for learning the "back" command and back enroute to a pile. I don't want to get into that here, because some, including myself, no longer use the stick on back. It has now been replaced by the variable intensity collar. That being said, if I still field trialed, I'd still stick fetch to a pile.

Now please, please, note that nowhere here am I advocating "beating" a dog! It's tap, tap, tap, not whack, whack, whack. Hope this helps everyone to understand it's proper use. I am certainly not saying it's the only way to train, just an alternate to consider.

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This section deals with stick fetch used in conjunction with a force fetch program.



Stick fetch is a continuation of the ear pinch and was thought paramount to forcing en route to a pile. It introduced a dog to another stimulus on the way to a pile before the collar was actually introduced to it. It is started when you are forcing on the ear and the dog is picking up off the ground. Now we start all over again with fetch. The bumper is held in front of the dog, the heeling stick held in the left hand, the command "fetch" given and a stinging crack applied with the heeling stick to the dog's rear flank. You keep up a steady sting of the flank until the dog fetch's the object. A dog may not jump for an ear pinch, he may not jump for a toe hitch, but he will jump for a stick fetch. If he doesn't you keep tapping harder and harder until he does. When you put that dowel or bumper in front of a stick fetched dog, he will tear your arm out of the socket to get it. Never get mad, never beat the dog, it is a controlled and escalated tap on the flank. Now go to the ground. Again it's "fetch", tap, and guide with the lead until the dog picks it up. Don't let the dog squirrel out from your side, even if you have to put a flank strap on him and have another person tension it to keep him straight. When he is doing this, throw the dummy a few feet out and same routine, "fetch", tap, and the retrieve. You'll know you have him when you say "fetch" and the dog tucks his butt under him and just hauls tail for the bumper. We used to like the stick fetch because it kept our hands and face away from the dog and saved on sore backs because we weren't bending over to fetch the dog to the ground.

Now we progress to a pile. The dog is always kept on a lead for control. We now will "double rope" the dog to make it easier for him to understand the pile. Put another person at the pile with a rope leading back to your rope. Hook his rope to the eye of your snap. Throw a bumper to the pile. Command "fetch" and tap the rear. If dog doesn't go, command "fetch" again, tap the flank, and have the other person tension his rope and start the dog to the pile. We're only talking about 10' here. We are trying to make it as easy on the dog as possible, guiding him through each sequence. When he has this down pat at 10', when we say "fetch", he tucks his butt and hauls for the pile, picks up and immediately splins to return to our side, we are ready to force-en-route. See the advantage to doing it like this? We have control of the dog every foot of the way. He can't make a mistake and get in trouble and it stops us from becoming frustrated.

For force-en-route, we remove the assistant's rope. The assistant stands back to back with us. He has a 4' buggy whip in his right hand. It is held across his body, right to left. We command the dog to fetch. The dog launches and the assistant immediately swings the whip to his right and slaps the dog on the flank. At the exact instant the whip contacts the dog, we command strongly, "fetch". This causes him to hit 2nd gear on the way to a pile. When he is doing this well, we'll move back to 30'. The assistant is still there with a whip in case we get a no-go. Now we switch to a marble. When the dog launches and is 15' out, sting him in the butt with a marble and command "fetch". Now he learns he is not safe at any distance. When he has this down, we overlay all this with the collar and start again. It is also at this time that we substiture "BACK" for "fetch".

Now everyone is sitting there scratching their head and saying, but with the modern ecollar, why do this? I no longer do, but I'm a died in the wool collar guy. If you are not a collar man, you do this to prevent no-goes. Remember also that this was developed in the 60's and 70's when collars were not variable intensity, they were thunder bolts from heck. You had to go through a preparatory program so the dog knew how to escape the correction of the collar. He was taught under pressure step by step so there was little chance of failure left. That's why this was all done; to make it easier on the dog during collar breaking or to end no goes on manual dog's. You can train them one way, or you can train them the other, but when you say "BACK" they better get the heck out of Dodge. The most helpless feeling in the world is to tell a dog "dead, bird, BACK" at a field trial and have him look up into your eyes with his big, sorrowful brown eyes and say "Who, me boss?". You'll win no ribbon if they go nowhere
LIFE WITHOUT BIRD DOGS AND FLY RODS REALLY ISN'T LIFE AT ALL.

prairiefire

Post by prairiefire » Tue Feb 19, 2008 10:08 pm

The stick gives him a visual clue and barrier he can not pass. It is the absolute fastest and easiest way to teach a dog to heel.
This is really interesting. I've been struggling a bit with getting our dog to heel properly, and I'm fairly certain I'm just not communicating what I want effectively. This might be worth a try. Thanks.

Lab Man

Post by Lab Man » Tue Feb 19, 2008 11:14 pm

I do not use a healing stick to teach heal. I use it as an enforcement tool later. The best tool to teaching heal is a lead and a leather pinch collar. The great thing about the pinch collar it teaches the dog exactly where it needs to be. If the dogs goes to far ahead it gets pressure, if it lags behind it gets pressure. It teaches the dog where the safe area is. Now I use commands very consistently to teach the dog also where it needs to be. If the dog goes to far ahead I will say heal with pressure and when its back where its supposed to be the pressure is released and heal is said again. If the dog lags behind I say "here" with pressure and when the dog comes into the safe zone I say "heal" and the pressure is released. This way the dog clearly understands that on the side of my left leg is the place to be. I did not mention that I first teach with a lead and a flat collar, and then later incorporate the pinch collar. As the dog clearly understands the command and how to shut off the pressure I will soon incorporate the healing stick to replace the lead and pinch collar. The healing stick only becomes a correction tool for the command it knows very well. Please remember that a lot of force does not need to be applied with a healing stick. A medium to light tap will in most cases get the job done. You want the dog to understand the healing stick and not be afraid of it. Good luck

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djonathang
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Post by djonathang » Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:38 am

Good morning.

I gave my heeling stick a whirl this morning. Works great with the sit control at crosswalks, as the dog feels the pressure (tap) on the rear, but I don't need to manipulate the lead or reach over and press down on the rear.

There may have been some improvement on walking ahead, but it wasn't entirely noticeable. She tends to walk out 1/2 body length in front, I then correct with the collar and tap her on the chest with the stick (lightly). Is this the right technique?

One thing I can't figure out is how to bring her close to my leg while healing. She tends to walk 2 feet away. I've been trying to correct this by pulling the lead toward me, but she immediately drifts back out. Help is appreciated on this matter.

Finally, she (6 month old) is for some unknown reason totally freaked out by grates in the sidewalk, heating vents in the home, and basically any slotted thing in the road. She has the disposition of an excellent cow in this regard. I've tried bringing her close, and offering a treat under the banner of good things happen around these grated things. She doesn't want anything to do with it. She tightens up, lays low, and pulls away. Thoughts?

Review of questions:

1. Heeling technique with stick and collar being applied correctly?
2. Desire to have her heel closer to my legs.
3. Those darn grates.


Thanks All!

DG

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Post by gonehuntin' » Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:43 am

djonathang wrote: Review of questions:

1. Heeling technique with stick and collar being applied correctly?
Yes, but don't let her forge ahead of you. That's what the stick is, a visual barrier. She'll never get the idea if you let her pass you, then tap her and bring her back.
djonathang wrote: 2. Desire to have her heel closer to my legs.
When she moves away, hold the heeling stick in your left hand, lead in right. Give sharp little jerks toward your leg, and tap her on the outside ribs with the heeling stick commanding, NO, HEEL.

djonathang wrote: 3. Those darn grates.
Forget about the grates. She's protecting her feet and legs so she doesn't break one. They'll show the same hesitation on cattle guards. Choose your battles wisely. This is one not worth battling over.
Thanks All!
LIFE WITHOUT BIRD DOGS AND FLY RODS REALLY ISN'T LIFE AT ALL.

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bobman
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Post by bobman » Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:34 pm

GH I still think you should write a common sense dog training book, theres nothing else to do all winter up in the cold heck you live in :D .

( my brother and sister still live up near you but they are really reconsidering after the last couple months, dang its been cold, I feel for you)


I've learned some good stuff from you

Thanks
currently two shorthairs, four english pointers, one Brittany, one SPRINGER a chihuahua and a min pin lol

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djonathang
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Post by djonathang » Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:11 pm

gonhuntin',

Thanks for the input. One final question. When bringing her keeping her in the heel position (fore/aft), does it matter whether she can see the stick? I'm thinking that just as dogs become "collar wise", they too can become "stick wise", i.e., no stick, no heel.

Thanks.

DG

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Post by gonehuntin' » Thu Feb 21, 2008 6:26 am

djonathang wrote:gonhuntin',

Thanks for the input. One final question. When bringing her keeping her in the heel position (fore/aft), does it matter whether she can see the stick? I'm thinking that just as dogs become "collar wise", they too can become "stick wise", i.e., no stick, no heel.

Thanks.

DG
That is the entire purpose of the heeling stick; to give the dog a visual barrier that it can understand. Once it's doing this to perfection, stick the heeling stick between your belt and the small of your back so it carries straight up behind you. That way you always have it and the dog won't see it.

I forgot to tell you yesterday, when the dog strays from the side of your leg, the other thing you can do is to just give a sharp jerk inward saying "no, heel", and at the same time pat the side of your leg to draw the dog to your leg.

Have you ever kicked at the dog or knee'd the dog to cause it to be shy of your legs?
LIFE WITHOUT BIRD DOGS AND FLY RODS REALLY ISN'T LIFE AT ALL.

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Post by djonathang » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:20 am

Good morning gonhuntin',

No kicks to the puppy. When we were training it not to jump, we just turned away and showed no itnerest. She figured it out.

I see the distance she wants to maintain as one of independence, rather than a casualty of prior training (at least that's what I'd like to believe).

I employed the heeling stick this morning with good success. I think she started to figure out the fore/aft thing. She even improved a bit on the lateral distance. I'll incorporate the leg patting tomorrow morning.

By the way, the reason this has become my primary focus is she was spayed on Thursday. I'm forced to keep her out of the hills for two weeks. A good time to work on obedience in a urban/town environment.

Thanks for all your help.

DG

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Post by EvanG » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:27 am

I have an entirely different view of heeling sticks and their application in training. First, I don't use anything physical as a threat. I train dogs to obey commands, and use a select few forcing implements as means of applying pressure to enforce those commands. A heeling stick is a tool; an implement of force.

If your dog is conditioned to obey commands in response to a physical threat, I believe he's less apt to obey when the threat is not present. One of the things I teach those attending my seminars is proper use of their tools. In carrying a heeling stick, I teach trainers to carry them in their hand with the tip lying against their shoulder. In this way the stick is always in position to be used, but is up out of the dogs' normal line of sight so it isn't seen as a looming threat.

It's used to enforce sit. It's used to enforce positioning commands, but as something of a guide more than merely forcing them to move. The heeling stick is a very fine forcing implement when used correctly. Many trainers use e-collars for line manner issues that would be far better handled with a heeling stick.

It's a very versatile tool. My stern admonition about training in general would be to train your dog to obey known commands, rather than to merely threaten them with tools.

To each his/her own.

EvanG

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Post by gonehuntin' » Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:53 pm

How many times to I have to spell it out for you Evan, "IT'S A VISUAL BARRIER". A tap on the chest is not a physical threat anymore than your "enforcing sit" is.
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Post by EvanG » Thu Feb 21, 2008 2:30 pm

gonehuntin' wrote:How many times to I have to spell it out for you Evan, "IT'S A VISUAL BARRIER". A tap on the chest is not a physical threat anymore than your "enforcing sit" is.
You don't need to spell anything out for me, bud. I'm pretty good with the language. But if anything physical operates as a barrier by being visible, there is a reason for its effect. The tap will have fulfilled the dogs' expectations of the threat.

If that's how you want to use it, that's up to you. I choose to rely on the tool as support for commands the dog is taught, much like other aversives such as e-collars, leashes, or any other tool that can effectively deliver well timed pressure for the purpose.

EvanG

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Post by gonehuntin' » Thu Feb 21, 2008 2:54 pm

EvanG wrote:
gonehuntin' wrote:How many times to I have to spell it out for you Evan, "IT'S A VISUAL BARRIER". A tap on the chest is not a physical threat anymore than your "enforcing sit" is.
You don't need to spell anything out for me, bud. I'm pretty good with the language. But if anything physical operates as a barrier by being visible, there is a reason for its effect. The tap will have fulfilled the dogs' expectations of the threat.
Only if the dog forges ahead and ingores the barrier. He then activates the force of the training collar plus the tap of the stick.
EvanG wrote: If that's how you want to use it, that's up to you. I choose to rely on the tool as support for commands the dog is taught, much like other aversives such as e-collars, leashes, or any other tool that can effectively deliver well timed pressure for the purpose.
EvanG
The advantage of the stick is, you don't have to keep jerking him back on the lead and collar. Without a stick as a guide, the dog is just guessing at his head position relative to the knee. The dog is never beaten, never hurt. It is a visual barrier and the tap gets his attention. The collar and lead are putting more pressure on the pup than the stick. It's how every competent retriever trainer I've worked with uses it.
LIFE WITHOUT BIRD DOGS AND FLY RODS REALLY ISN'T LIFE AT ALL.

Lab Man

Post by Lab Man » Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:50 pm

Either method is not wrong or right. I personally like to teach the dog what the rules are and what is expected from them. In my opinion with any command the more you can keep it back and white the better the dog will be. When it comes to healing I like to teach what is expected of the dog, what the corrections are if they disobey the command and how to shut off the correction. Gonehuntin the only thing I dont like about the way you do it is that the healing stick becomes a crutch for the dog. If the healing stick becomes a visual reminder then you potentially create a situation to where the dog will learn that it has to listen when the healing stick is in view and not when its not. Kind of like becoming collar wise. I personally like to keep my healing stick either in my back pocket or along my arm so it does not intimidate the dog in any way. Just my opinion and its not worth much. :D

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Post by gonehuntin' » Fri Feb 22, 2008 6:18 am

Labman; like everything else, the heeling stick is only used in the early stages of training. As soon as the dog understands his correct relative position, you keep it tucked in your belt. The commands are ten overlaid with the collar, same as all the other commands are. It's merely another step on the way to a trained dog, but it's a step that makes it easier and faster for a dog to understand what we want, and isn't that what all of us look for in dog training?
LIFE WITHOUT BIRD DOGS AND FLY RODS REALLY ISN'T LIFE AT ALL.

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