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Categories: Competition Obedience

Q. I'm trying to get my dog to look at me when we do the heal and it just isn't working. Any suggestions?
Hi Ed,

I'm writing you to ask you how to train a dog with no motivation. My name is Jonathan and I have been training my pit bull for PSA. I have done a lot of work with him. His bite work is very strong. My problem is with obedience. He has no toy drive, so a tug or a ball is out of the question. I did all of his obedience with food and corrections. He is a lazy dog so everything he does is slow. The slowness is not my problem, because i know what my dog is and he can't be sped up. My problem is the heads up heel. This is the only thing holding him back from getting his PSA 1. He won't take food in front of a decoy and when I force him he isn't consistent. I've tried rewording him with bites when he is heeling well and that has helped a little, but when I step onto the field with him on a fur saver dead ringed he blows me off. He will look at me consistently when he is by my side, but he can't walk and look up at the same time all the time. If you can help in anyway i would greatly appreciate it. Thank you so much.

A. You may be rushing it a bit, if your dog will look at you while he is at your side, then you need to break it down into smaller steps to make him understand that you want him to move with you while looking up.

I would use markers to train this. Read the article Ed wrote titled Training With Markers. There are three phases of training, the learning phase, the distraction phase and the correction phase. We use markers to introduce our dogs to the LEARNING PHASE of training. I would do the marker training with food, away from the helper at first. Obedience during bitework is a completely different exercise in the mind of the dog. Teach him what you want and make sure he is very clear on what you expect away from protection before you add the huge distraction of the decoy.

You can also use the decoy as a reward; if he wants to bite then he has to look at you. This takes a lot of patience on your part, but once the dog figures out what he has to do to get his bite the training will progress much faster. I successfully retrained an older dog that had a crummy obedience foundation using the helper as the reward. We called it “obedi-bites” When he did focused obedience then I would randomly release him for bites, no focus, and we went back to the car.

I would not be working this dog on a fur saver or in any situation where he has the opportunity to blow you off. The more chances he has to do things his way, the harder retraining becomes and the longer it will take. Don’t let him rehearse behaviors you don’t like.
  
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