When living and working with a dog, we all plan to achieve a well-trained canine companion. To establish this, we must outline clear rules that the dog should abide by.
Labelled as the ‘tricky one’ in initial Gundog training, this month we move our focus onto heelwork. For gundog breeds teaching this technique is important, by their nature they are always eager to explore which becomes apparent when you see a dog pulling on the lead or worse, disappearing when it is released.
To be successful in developing your dogs obedience skills you should consider the form of pack dynamics, as we all know the person or dog in front is seen as the leader, allowing your dog to do this will hinder your control and cause issues when out on shoot days or even just your daily duties.
By this point your puppy should respond to the ‘come, sit and stay command’. Using heelwork to teach your puppy to move into the ‘finish’ position will eventually train your puppy to walk at your heel with ease. This can be managed by either having the dog go behind you or come in to the finish position from the side.
So how do we begin to teach this? Call the puppy towards you and ask him to sit directly in front. Using a piece of food placed between your left thumb and fingers slowly lure the puppy out towards your left and take a step back. Your step back allows the puppy to turn with ample room and align itself so the pup can sit nicely at your heel. For efficient results try not to rush this movement, allow the puppy to nibble at the food as he proceeds to follow your hand. Patience and repetition will diminish any of the puppy’s lead pulling habits and should establish a fluid movement into a nice neat sit at your heel.
Using place boards and hoops, as targets can be a great help for getting your puppy to walk towards you. Choose which side you plan to walk your puppy, for the left you should turn a semicircle to your left, or if you intend to train on your right a semicircle should be made towards the right.
Next, using the ‘come, sit and stay sequence’, call your puppy to you and say ‘sit’ he should now be looking up at you, say ‘good’ then follow with a reward. Before concentration has dwindled, bend your legs slightly holding the food between your thumb and forefinger and hold it right in front of your puppy’s nose. Slowly start to move forwards turning to your preferred side and go around the outside of the hoop, whilst maintaining a gentle circle, stop when you have both arrived back at the hoop. Lastly, sit the puppy at your heel and reward.
It is crucial to understand that in the first stages of the training try not to make the distance you cover too far, as this will only make things more problematic. Once you are seeing an improvement, you can start to enlarge the semicircle area, test your puppy by increasing your pace or changing direction, this will keep his attention focused. Gradually you want to build up the motion of taking a few strides without having the food placed directly in front of your pups nose but this will develop over time.
Initially many inexperienced handlers will struggle with the task of teaching heelwork, but perseverance and patience will ultimately see you achieve the right results.
Chudleys nutritionists say?
The need for an appropriate balanced diet is important to help support your puppy during those critical early days of training. Not only does this support a steady growth rate and body development, but the correct diet can help brain development and learning capacity.<s style="text-line-through:double"> </s>
Chudleys Puppy/Junior has been tailored to support the young working dog and will provide all the essential nutrients, with added extras to support your puppy through their younger months.
To support neural and retinal development, Chudleys Puppy/Junior contains:
- Increased omega 3 long chain fatty acids, specifically DHA that is integral to neural and retinal development.
To aid with learning capacity, Chudleys Puppy/Junior also contains our:
- Unique natural antioxidant package QLC that has been shown to nutritionally support the improvement of learning capacity. In addition it helps to maintain the dog’s own antioxidant systems.
- Chudleys Puppy/Junior contains a mix of selected dietary fibre sources and mannan oligosaccharides to help facilitate the functioning of the overall immune system
Bone development & growth rate:
- Chudleys Puppy/Junior helps to support bone development through the correct calcium to phosphorus ratio.
- Steady growth is essential and it is important to remember that feeding guidelines are only a guide and you should feed sufficient amounts to maintain condition depending upon the level of activity enjoyed and the conformation of your puppy. Do not attempt to grow your puppy too fast, as this may have detrimental effects on their developing joints.