Friday, December 15, 2006

Whippet Heeling

Someone asked my advice recently about whippet heeling and I thought I would also share it here...

Hi, I'm on the SHAgility list and have noticed your great achievements with your Whippets. I was wondering if you can give me any pointers on how to teach a Whippet to heel. My boy is so disinterested, unless I have food. He just wonders off or lags behind. Maybe all I need is more practice, but I'm also open for new ideas. Thanks!

Well, I would use the food initially to get his interest. You can fade it later. I definitely use food all the time to practice heeling. I would start with very short stretches in a quiet, comfortable place with your dog. One thing I learned (the hard way) was to really break it down. Start with one step! If you can really have your dog starting with you on the first step, that’s helps so much. So I would just lure that first step for a while and click if they keep up with you for one step. Then you can build up to 2, 3, 4 steps et cetera adding a sit at some point. The biggest thing I have learned recently with heeling is to make it a game. The game is to keep up with you! That is a fun game for a whippet. One I basically have my dog following me, I start trying to teach heel position. So I click when they are in heel position. Then they learn that that is what you want and that is game. Rally has helped our heeling a lot too because there are so many cool variations of heeling that you can add to make it interesting. So mix it up; make it unpredictable and keep it positive and fun!

From what you wrote, I would recommend 2 5 minute session a day. Good luck and let me know how it goes.

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