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Thread: Puppy heel training

  1. #1

    Puppy heel training

    I was wondering if about starting heel training early.

    I have a 9 week labrador puppy who is doing great. Already sitting on command, coming when called etc - learning very quickly off the other dog.

    However, the older one has never been excellent at heel and I would like the new pup to be great at heel. I would ideally like to stalk with him at heel, no lead when he is old enough and ready.

    Currently I am slowly familiarising him with a lead, some days the lead won't bother him and I try walking him around the garden on a short lead, repeating the 'heel' command for about 10 minutes and giving praise when he does it then a small treat before he looses interest.

    Does anyone have any tips or advice on heel training?


  2. #2
    Think you might be trying to put an old head on young shoulders, nine weeks is very young to start training.

  3. #3
    I agree. At 9 weeks the dog is still very young, and too young for formal training in my mind. Keep 'training' to things that are either fun/play, like trailing (just lay a trail in the garden and encourage the pup to follow it), ragging deer skins, or basic discipline like 'no' and recall. Anything more intense is too much. I've done very little, other than the above, with mine till they're at least 12 weeks, and then only very basic stuff for short sessions. Let the puppy be a puppy.

    Just my opinion.


  4. #4
    Thanks for the responses, he is still very much being a puppy and not being forced or anything, keeping it fun. the sitting and recall is something he has just picked up off the other dog, it wasn't formal training.

    Ok ill hold off anything else until he's a bit older. Thanks for the tips

  5. #5
    Hi When pup's older, walk him to heel use walls fences etc. With you walking close to wall so pup can't walk in front this won't take long before pup learns, then walk out about a foot or so from wall and pup should still be on heel if pup tries to walk in front give heel command and close cap on wall. Keep doing this and pup will be walking to heel in no time. But most important it should be fun for you and pup never lose your temper with pup. If it not working stop have a play and try again tomorrow.

  6. #6
    I'm the opisate i'd say carry on makes life far easier, just same as sit recall more familiarisation with the commands than the dog truely learning them.

    Althou i'd say 10mins is too long, simply put lead on and play with it get it used to lead then starta bit of lead work but just a few mins at a time is plenty, plenty praise and treats too. Jst keep it fairly fun or as fun as heel work can be.
    Just a few mins or even shorter and let it have a play another 30secs-2mins etc

    U don't mention if a gun dog or just stalking dog but nows a great time to get it retrieving and confident bringing dummy/sock etc back to u, but let dog climb all over u and be in no hurry to take it off the pup

  7. #7
    Lots of good advise so far. Here's my two pence worth, over the years I must have read all the training books and they all over complicate things.
    But with my last dog a trial bred lab, I attended weekly training classes for a few months and cannot recommend them highly enough. They are a great way of socializing young dogs and improving general steadiness in company.

    If I were you I would not over do training in the first 10 months , if you do you will suppress it spirit and character.

    One of the best tips I got from the classes was to get the pup interested in a tennis ball as an incentive, " Its your secret weapon", give your dog a few retrieves now and then or the occasional 'seek it' game , but NEVER leave him have or play with the Ball .

    Then when the wheels come off during a training session produce the ball form your pocket ,give it a hop and catch it and you have his attention once more.
    This works well for heel training too , hold the ball in your right hand , he will be completely focused and no need for pulling him all over the place with the slip lead.

    A couple other points

    1. Sit is the key - get you dog steady on sit in a confined space initially, working up to an open area and your more tan 50% of the way . Sit means Sit, for as long as you decide - there's no need to use a "Stay" command.

    2. Don't call a young dog off Sit, walk back to him instead . This improves steadiness and keeps his bum on the ground, later you can add in hand signals .

    3. The same goes for retrieves only allow him 2 or 3 out of 10.

    4. if your having a bad session stop for today , don't force it, especially if your going to loose the head.

    5. keep it fun and remember its not a race.

    hope this helps.
    Last edited by huntsman; 11-06-2016 at 23:35.

  8. #8
    Thanks everyone. Lots if good tips.

    The dog is a lab who will mainly be a picking up/peg dog who I would like to take stalking when I do go. He has a dummy toy which I lightly throw a few feet away when we play, he loves retrieving it but I only do it a handful of times so that he doesn't get bored - lots of praise when he does it. I wouldn't consider that 'training' though, it's a bit of fun for both of us.

    Huntsman - what age did you introduce the tennis ball as the incentive?

    I looked at the list of books and dvd's but got overwhelmed by the choice and recommendations, so decided to ask on here instead. I won't be over training, the previous one got sent off to be trained as I was still at school and we lacked experience with gundogs, never again - took ages for the dog to show a personality again and that's the last thing I want - good worker though.

    I will look into some puppy training classes in my area and try those sitting techniques - they make a lot of sense.

    I will keep it fun for both, it's not fun for anyone if the pup isn't interested or having a good time.

    Not going to rush him.

  9. #9
    I know the trick i use far more now with pups now is using the feed bowl as a training aid, pup sitting for food recalling for its name/whistle to food bowl so it becomes second nature for the dog to come or sit to ur whistle commands without it even realising its been trained. On rory mojors dvd has a whole litter of 8 week old gwp pups recalling and sitting to whistle/food bowl, looks really impressive
    Not really training thou more conditioning at that young age.

    Some good advice from huntsman a decent puppy class will help with socilaisation etc and heeling esp in aroundother dogs/folk etc.

    The oher thing is every dog will be different, while most good advice will work with the majority of dogs sometimes u have to adapt a bit.

    With the retrieving as a very young pup i would be letting it reteieve/pick up everything (only throwing sock/hanky a few m's away initailly) and let it run in and chase it too and then be in no hurry to take it off it, giving plenty of praise while it still has it in mouth.

    Most off the books sort of reckon let dog retrieve 3-4 out of 5 rather than 10 (some dogs could lose interest/be sticky when doing it so often esp in young dogs,) but it just depends on ur dog, but keen dogs would steady up but really want dogs to be quite old before steadying too much.
    I was at a training day with a famous spaniel trainer years ago and he lets the dog retrieve 100% of things thrown and throws lots of retrieves to get dogs ma keen.
    While another spaniel boy only ever praises/claps dog while it has the dummy in its mouth and never after u have took it, whic is the oppisate of most trainers.

    Loads of different ways and ideas just finding out wot works best for u and each dog

    Wot ever u decide t that age keep it very very short few mins even could be too long

  10. #10
    We make the other dog sit before he gets his food and the puppy picked that up off him, probably how he learnt so quickly to sit on command.

    Yeah, the puppy is keen on picking up and carrying the brush from the dustpan and tea towels, I let him carry it and praise him if he brings it too me then gets lots of praise.

    I am keeping it short, don't want to bore the pup and I don't want to suppress his personality through over training. He is getting nice a confident so wouldnt want to spoil that.

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