The Heeling Stick Training Process
There are few training tools as valuable to a trainer as a heeling stick! When used correctly at the right time, it can be the most efficient form of correction there is.
Of primary importance when using a heeling stick is the proper hold. If the stick is not held correctly, it is extremely hard
to give a correction to your dog at the appropriate time. A heeling stick should be held in the hand on the same side your dog is heeled on. Grip the handle, in the same manner, you would grip an umbrella and lay it flat against your arm with the tip of the stick at your shoulder. The heeling stick is held in this manner to avoid bringing the stick up, and then down when making a correction. The correction should be given straight down so your dog will not see any unnecessary movement.
When using a heeling stick in teaching your dog to walk at heel, the timing of a correction is of utmost importance. Assuming he has been taught properly to heel with a choke chain and lead, teaching your dog to heel off lead using a heeling stick should be relatively easy.
If, while walking at heel, your dog’s front shoulders get in front of your leg he is heeling on, you should deliver a correction. The correction should be delivered to his hindquarter, and you should give the “heel” command after the correction. The dog should return to the heel position. Walk forward again and give a correction and heel command if needed. Once the dog is proficient at walking straight lines at heel, you should move to figure eights. To offer your dog a greater challenge at heel, you can walk him past piles of bumpers or other dogs. If he gets out in front of you, you should deliver a crisp correction to his hindquarters followed by the “heel” command.
You don’t have to give a hard correction to the dog
The Heeling stick is a training tool, not a tool used for punishment. You should only give enough correction to change the action of the dog. You should NOT here a vocalization when giving a correction to the dog.
With the proper understanding on how to use the Avery Heeling stick, it can be the most useful training tool you use to teach your dog to heel off lead.
A heeling stick should always be carried when you are running marks. A good guideline is always to carry the stick once you are running the dog with a lead. Keep the stick resting upright on your shoulder so that you don’t have to wind up to use it. This way you will avoid having the dog flinch whenever you move and keeps the dog focused on the job at hand.
The dog should be accustomed to your carrying the stick- it just means you are going to work. Use only as much stick pressure as needed, and always precede the stick correction with a command. Be careful not to carry it only when you think you will need it or the dog will become “stick-wise.” Similar to collar-wise, we don’t want to dog to think it only has to listen when we are using an electronic collar or just when he is wearing one.
The pressure will be most effective if it lands on the dogs hips. Dogs vary in their sensitivity to the heeling stick. For some dogs, a gentle tap is all it takes.
Using the heeling stick while holding the taut lead can get a little awkward, but with practice, it will become easy!
Joe Scarpy – Owner / Dog Trainer
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