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Initial Training for Heal

Updated: Jan 31, 2022

In our first video we worked on “Go to Place”. While we will continue to work at that same task each day, we want to continue to branch out and work on new skills. Today we are going to work at Heal.

Heal is initially taught off leash. Dogs have an instinctual reflex for self preservation to free themselves from anything that may restrain or limit them and thus our on leash heal is initially taught Off Leash.

I have asked my daughter to assist in this exercise. To start off, she has a pocket full of treats or in this case, todays lunch of kibble. The dog is off leash, and we are in a safe area, free from distractions and hazards. To begin, she calls our puppy to her and treats her at her left leg. She then takes a few steps and treats her again. This is repeated while continually walking in a small counter clockwise circle. The advantage of doing this is that the dog is always on the inside and you are always turning in on the dog so it is easy for her to stay with you in the correct position. We want to engineer success and this does so nicely.

The first lesson should set a low bar. This means that she should initially receive an almost constant stream of treats for as long as she remains at your left leg. If you are able to have a treat for her as fast as she is able to chew and swallow, all the better. Another point to make is that this should be done ‘on the move’. You want you young pup to understand that we are not stopping for lunch, this is a traveling affair.

As she starts to get the hang of it, you may do several things to increase the challenge. You can reduce the frequency between rewards so that she gets a treat every other step, every three, and so on. You can also increase the size of your circle so that she has to work a little harder at staying with you as it is not quite so automatic.

While pleased with her progress, it is probably not a great idea to add a leash just yet. We want to be sure that she ends her session on a high point. In this case, we have added a leash but have not picked it up, and in the latter portion of the training you can see that she is dragging it behind her. This makes an introduction to the leash without placing any demands on for with it.

In subsequent sessions, we will hold the leash, straighten our path out, and begin to ask more of her. I hope that you have found this interesting. Please feel free to comment on how you have gone about training, and what has worked for you. We love to hear your feedback and receive your stories.

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