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Head drops in heeling

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Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones.

A while ago I did a blog post on “what’s more ___ than ___”  You can read about that idea here.

Using that principle, let’s consider a dog that drops his head while heeling. Maybe on the first step, or left turns, or right turns, or on the fast pace or…you get the idea.

What’s more looking up than up?

Jumping up, with your head up.

First I taught Brito to jump up for a cookie.  For some dogs that can be a bit complicated, so start from a standstill , then progress to a slow pace, then normal, etc.  They’ll figure it out.  If your dog is taller, then your hand would be higher – just up.

Now that you have that, let’s switch that to a generic hand touch rather than a cookie. And… here we go.

Problem on the start?  Do a week’s worth of starts with a hand touch to start and reward every single one.  We want our dog to love this game!

Problem on the about turn?  Do a week’s worth of about turns with a hand touch at the exact point where the head drop tends to occur.

If your dog misses the hand touch,  just try again until they succeed, and then reward.

Watch what happens.  It’s like magic!  You will find that your dog begins to hold a lovely, head’s up heel position, even on those tricky spots.

Here’s a very short video of Brito.  The specific issues were the first step of heeling, and dropping his head when pivoting to the right, so those are the two things I worked on.

TODAY is the first day of instruction at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy!  If you’re enrolled, head to your classroom, and if not – go get registered!

About dfenzi

I'm a professional dog trainer who specializes in building relationship in dog handler teams who compete in dog sports. My personal passions are Competitive Obedience and no force (motivational) dog training. I travel throughout the world teaching seminars on topics related to Dog Obedience and Building Drives and Motivation. I own Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, a comprehensive online school for motivational training of performance sport dogs.

8 responses »

  1. We are so smart

    Sent from my iPad Kathie


  2. Thank you! I have been teaching the jump up forward for years. i never thought to use it for turns.

  3. I love the ‘whats more than” approach. Its great and this approach to heeling has really gotten my guy jazzed up.
    So how would you apply the same philosophy to a dog who tends to be slow for example in doing circles around me (freestyle). I can do lots of speed him up, throw food, run, yell cues, but thats all cheer leading. Using this philosophy, I want him to go even faster and faster. But how to accomplish it?

  4. This is exactly what I needed to fix my 9 year old’s tendency to put her head down during heeling. Thank you!

  5. Margaret Patterson

    Would this not make an excitable dog jump when you get to ring instead of just head up, don’t get me wrong I love the idea but I was treating at my knee when I first started now I get nudges and sometimes nips on my knee in the ring….I have a very high drive Sheltie

  6. Never thought of using this on turns! Its exactly what my Goldie needs. Its so simple! Thank you for posting Denise!


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