Changes of pace and turns

For the changes of pace and turns, we train dogs to take their cue from the leadoff leg. We use three techniques to teach this concept:

1 The release

1 An object of attraction, which can be a treat or favorite toy 1 A check

Changing pace

This section contains a changing pace example: Suppose that you want to teach the dog to stay with you as you change pace from slow to normal. Perform these steps:

1. Release your dog from a slow pace on your leadoff leg.

The idea is to get your dog all excited about accelerating with you from slow to normal.

2. As you go from slow to normal, use a treat to draw the dog forward as the leadoff leg makes the transition.

Hold the leash in your left hand and the treat in your right. Show the dog the treat just as you're about to make the change, and draw him forward with your right hand as the leadoff leg accelerates into normal pace.

3. Hold the leash in Control Position (see the section, "Using Control Position," earlier in the chapter) and occasionally, and only when necessary, give a little check straight forward at the same time the leadoff leg makes the transition.

The check teaches your dog that ultimately it's his responsibility, on or off leash, to accelerate when you change pace.

Most of your repetitions of any of the heeling components should include the release or a treat.

Making turns

When making turns, try to keep your feet close together so your dog can keep up with you. For the right and about-turn, Buddy needs to learn to accelerate and stay close to your side as you make the turn. You can teach him by using

1 The release as you come out of the turn

1 A treat to guide him around the turn

1 If necessary, a little check coming out of the turn

When you use a treat,

1 Neatly fold the leash into your left hand, and place it against your right hip. Doing so keeps your shoulder facing in the right direction.

1 Hold the treat in your right hand at your side.

1 Just before you make the turn, show your dog the treat, and use it to guide him around the turn.

1 Hold the treat as close to your left leg as you can so your dog learns to make nice, tight turns.

For the left turn, Buddy first needs to slow down so you don't trip over him and then accelerate again. Draw back on the leash just before you make the turn, and then use the same techniques as you use for the right and about-turns.

You don't have to practice these maneuvers in succession, so long as you do two or three of each during a training session.

Once a week, test your dog's understanding of heeling by doing a little pattern with him that's similar to what you'd perform in the ring. In the ring, you're not allowed to check your dog, and you can't have any tension on the leash. The only true test is when your dog is off leash, but using umbilical cord or Show position also gives you a good idea of what you need to practice. For Show position, neatly fold the leash into your left hand, and place it at your belt buckle, allowing anywhere from three to eight inches of slack, depending on the size of the dog.

The purpose of testing your dog's understanding of heeling is to see what you need to practice. Most of your time should be spent practicing. Test every fourth or fifth session.

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