Basics – Teach your dog to heel

The “heel” command is a formal obedience exercise in which a dog walks precisely by a handler’s knee, matching her pace and immediately sitting when the handler halts. Your four-legged friend should know this valuable obedience exercise-for your sake and his.

This is the formal thing to do. 🙂  Do most people want their dog to heel?  no.. They simply want their dog to walk with a loose leash.   BUT teaching a heel is very valuable.

1. useful for agility training when you want your dog in close to you.

2. useful for walking through crowds and on busy streets

3. useful for when you are walking your dog off-leash and need your dog to stay really close to you.

A dog walking at heel is staying close, paying close attention, and is right beside you.

So just how do you teach a dog to walk at heel?

1. get your dogs attention, get your dog to watch you and pay attention to you.   There are different ways to do this.  Get your dogs attention by calling his name, tapping on his head, making noises or any other way you can think of.   This is a command in and of itself.

2. teach your dog where to stand.  For most people a heel is having your dog stand with their head at your left knee (or hip/ankle) depending on the size of the dog.   he’s to stay in that position regardless of how fast you move or in which direction you move in.  NOW.. for agility folks…you might want to teach your dog to heel on both sides as it’s a useful tool to have.  🙂   have a different command for each side.  Me…I always taught my dog to walk on my right side as that’s what worked for me.   Doesn’t really matter as long as you teach them to do so consistently.

3. Once your dog is in position.  Say Rover (or whatever the dogs name is) HEEL.  and start walking forward.  When the dog starts with you. Stop and praise him!  Treat him with food.  And then try again.  Practice is key.

4. gradually increase the length of time you walk with him before treating him.

If your dog starts to forge ahead, a good trick to correct that is to turn around calling your dogs name and walk in the opposite direction.

some people will do this:

When he tries to forge ahead, turn sharply and step directly in his path, making a 90 degree turn and heading off in a new direction. Once again, turn sharply, as if walking along a square. The dog will be used to leading you, and may be surprised or confused. Walk in a straight line again, until the dog tries to forge past you. Pull the same stunt. Doing this for 5-15 minutes a day is enough. Some dogs learn after the first session, but some dogs who have been used to leading you for years may take longer. This lesson will teach your dog that YOU are the one who knows where you are going, and not him.:

there are sites on-line to teach you how to train your dog to heel, I hope this has given you a start.  🙂




a solution to dog anxiety.

Thundershirt is recommended by thousands of veterinarians and trainers around the world. Whatever the situation that makes your dog anxious, fearful, reactive or over-excited, Thundershirt’s gentle, constant pressure can bring calm and focus back to your dog. A terrific solution for many types of anxiety including thunder, fireworks, separation, travel, and crate anxieties. And a terrific solution for eliminating “bad leash manners” such as barking, pulling or reactivity towards other animals and people.

Keeping a dog Focused on the course

Dogs can be funny, they can train perfectly at home or at a training club…but add the excitement, noise and bustle of a trial…and that self same dog can turn into a completely different dog.  A dog that barks, that doesn’t listen, that acts like it has NEVER seen a tunnel before it’s whole entire life.

What does a trainer/owner/handler do?

Some things to try:

Here is something I was told to do with my high drive agility crazed PWD who
would fly off, well, still does once in a blue moon..

  1. exercise well morning of trials
  2. For the next several trials do not run the entire course – Run just long enough to have your dog be successful and then leave on a high note.
  3. do not attempt to go from crate to ring, you must spend time with the dog before going in the ring first – warm up, then let the dog blow off some steam, then work on fun focus ringside
  4. change your expectations for this dog – this may not be the dog that gets the big ribbons.   Maybe this one is one you have fun with in the ring as a team and  live with lots of NQs Maybe this dog should only run jumpers and not  Standard. After all, are you running agility for you, for the dog, or to do something together?
  5. use some Rescue Remedy and / or some lavender oil to help calme and ease  the dog’s nerves. (I tend to recommend that a person try all other options before turning to medication).  — -that’s just me though
  6. ask other people what they see.  Perhaps you are not trialing the same way that you train. Perhaps you are getting louder/softer/more vocal/less vocal/more active/more demanding etc.   The old adage holds true…trial like you train, train like you trial.  Be consistent.
  7. Try doing some fun runs.  You know…those mock trials that trainers put on to help green dogs chill out about the bustle and wait of the trial setting.  Not quite the same as a trial, but helps.
  8. Try training at odd  places, busy places, quiet places, places with odd things going on and so forth.
  9. if your dog is getting reactive at a trial perhaps it’s time to step back from trialing and just get your dog used to the atmosphere.  Go to a few trials.  Teach your dog to chill out.  that is lay down and relax.  reward good behaviour and then ignore or correct inappropriate behaviour.   Take your time .. as much time as you need to.
  10. Consider if your dog is a trialing dog.  Not all dogs are.  Some dogs just can’t deal with the whole trial thing and for the good of your dog… should you require them to do so?

Inexpensive Weave Poles and Jump Standards

Cindy found an inexpensive make-do weave pole set! I found some electric fence plastic 48 inch tall step in plastic poles that are perfect for me to use for training at home. A good picture should be at Deer Fencing.

She only paid $1.85 each at TSC (Tractor Supply), so a set of 12 was inexpensive. They have metal spikes on the end, and they are “step in.”

These fence posts can also be used as jump standards.

You can also use them for the sides for Jumps . Just cut the 3/4″ 10″ PVC
pole in half. Cut a notch on each end and rest them on the tabs that are on the
poles. Jump for about $4.00!!

And to make them look more regulation, try adding some PVC

I use the step in electric fence poles as well, and get PVC pipe in a diameter that slides over the top of the fence poles. I tape the poles as well.   That way the dogs get the same view of the weaves as they would have at a trial.  The diameter is a little bigger than regulation as it needs to go over the  wire holder tabs on the fence poles. But it is worth it, in that they go into  the ground easily with the step on edge. I actually turn the step on edge in  the direction that I don’t want the dogs to travel in on the weaves. This also  keeps the edge out of the way of the dogs feet.

Some Issues you may want to consider:

  • do you have rocky ground?  if so, inserting them may be a challenge
  • can you put them in a straight line?
  • can you build a line to help you make consistent spacing?  I.e. use a rope, tie knots it in at the appropriate intervals
  • will you remember to move them before the ground freezes?  If not…they will stay there until the ground softens again.   This may or may not be an issue for you.
  • Do you have the strength to pull them out again?

Dogs Weaving in Poles

Dogs who know how to do weave poles tend weave either by single tracking or hopping.

Dogs that single track go through the poles using their front feet individually as they go through the poles.  Dogs that hop, well….they hop!   They use both feet and alternate hopping back and forth between the poles.

Of course then there are the littlest dogs who just run around the poles.

This page shows dogs that are single tracking.  It also talks about how to help train them.

I’ve searched for pictures of dogs hopping through weave poles but have been unable to locate one.  If you know of one, let me know please. 🙂

Any method is fine for getting through the poles as long as the dog is able to be consistent the whole way through on a consistent basis.   Some prefer to train their dogs to single step, other trainers prefer to let their dog choose how they will negotiate this object.

This page talks abit about how to go about figuring out how to train weave poles.

Here’s a good site

Instant Agility. It’s a blog that talks about agility equipment design and how to perform the obstacles.

Most dogs love to work, and agility gives them a challenging and fun “job” to do. It can be a casual way for you and your dog to have fun in the backyard, or an intense activity performed on an official course against other competitors. In either case, you will need obstacles that your dog can jump over, jump through or climb on. That’s what we’re here to help you with.