I want to improve Gwynn's response to "heel".   [The command we use is "close" or "stay close".]  She, and Al to a lesser extent, tend to walk too far ahead of me, even pulling on the leashes, when excited by some compelling upcoming attraction (example: when we're approaching the playground and they know the ball is waiting).  When I say, "Close!",  I want them to walk exactly abreast of me, on my left on- or off-leash, as close as possible without getting stepped-on.
They're often good at this during undistracted walking, and will tighten up/come in closer when I pat my thigh and say "closer!", but they cannot restrain themselves when the ball is waiting ahead.  I stop and make them come back, but they don't get it, and we slow to a slug's pace.
I've thought of using a long bamboo stick to restrain them -- holding just in front of them as an obstacle/reminder.


Note: part of this problem originates in my carelessness when Gwynn was a pup.  I was sloppy, didn't realize how important it was to be on the same page with my wife Lori. Lori wanted the dog at heel on her left, the standard position;  I thought it would be OK if she walked ahead, as long as she didn't pull on the leash.  I thought the puppy would be smart enough to figure out that the rules were somewhat different with me and Lori.  Wrong, too complicated, asking too much of the dog.  So make sure everybody in the family knows and accepts the training plan, uses the same criteria, and exactly the same words, and knows precisely what those words mean.
Maybe most important was my failure in releasing them:  I'd forget to release them, so they quickly learned they needed to obey "Close!" until I stopped paying attention.  Big mistake.  I learned that *I*, too,  have to obey things like "stay" and "Close".

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This is very similar to what Oliver and I are learning in class. :) The one addition might be to offer a treat when paying attention...the treat should be offered just behind your left knee...which is where you want them to be. (Mungled that I'm sure, hope it made some sense.)
Gwynn and Al can only train you so much, John.
Three points to remember about heel work:

1) Make it fun
2) Make it fun, and
3) Make it fun.

A smart dog like a Corgi will find straight-line heel work a total yawner and you won't keep her attention.

It's perfectly fine to start with a treat as a lure, then gradually fade the lure as she gets the point. Go into a big open area and start with simple direction changes every few steps. Make sure you treat FROM THE HAND ON THE SIDE SHE IS ON. This is very important, as I learned too late, in order to keep your dog straight and not peering around at your right hand from your left side. Whoopsee.

After you perfect the direction changes, start doing speed changes, jogging work, turns in towards the dog, etc. And IMO the command should be "heel" and they understand that means they are at your heel and not in front of you.

I changed my attitude towards treat/ lure work after seeing a dolphin show. Those darned dolphins are very smart and they get a treat after nearly every trick in a show. In the learning phase, you want to reward enough to make it worth your while. Start with the lure, then fade the lure but still treat her often. Only after she is 100% correct do you switch to sporadic treating, and then you will want to go back to step 1 and bring back the lure when you introduce distractions.

But keep it fun. If you are doing it right, she'll think it's a game. She'll grin at you, keep checking up at you frequently, probably start to drool at you, have her ears pitched at attention (if they pitch another way she is only half paying attention to you and the other half--- or even more--- is paying attention to what her ears are pointed towards), and be, in horse terms, "collected" with her feet well underneath her and her posture alert and upright as she prepares herself to change direction at a split-second's notice.

Like I said, straight-line heel work with a Corgi is just an exercise in frustration.

Good luck!
What do you think about working with both dogs simultaneously? Too complicated? Should I work with only one dog at a time?
Gwynnie is the one who needs improvement the most; she'll wander ahead or wander off. Al seems more hard-wired to watch me. I'd have expected the reverse, since Al has had much less one-on-one time.
Kerry suggested about switching directions when they get ahead or pull and I agree this is what has worked the best for me and then also the treats not only for staying by you but when giving you that eye contact when they are beside you!
John, I would work with one dog at a time til they master it. The direction changes you need to do would result in tangled dogs and they need that one-on-one. Personally, I would work with the easier dog first to perfect your method, then start working with the more challenging dog.

Jane makes a good point, too, about rewarding (with praise and sometimes a treat) when they offer to look up at you. I have, after much work, gotten Jack to the point that he automatically looks up at me if he walks past another dog without pulling.

There is really nothing in a dog's instinct, that I can tell, that tells them walking next to you is proper. It's all learned. If you watch the dogs off leash, they will each go their own way, scouting and sniffing and keeping in sight but not on top of each other. I've also seen lots of video of wild wolves hunting and they do fan out and wander. Sticking to your side like glue goes against the natural tendency to scout, and the "top dog" in a pack is most certainly not always the scout (frequently isn't, in fact) so the idea of waiting for your lead in all situations is not really the way a "pack" would work.

Things like not jumping on you, not biting you, vacating a spot you want or leaving food you want IS part of a normal pecking-order scenario and should not require much treating to teach. Heel is, in fact, a nice parlor trick. Don't get me wrong, it is useful and necessary, but not natural to the dog which is why you need to make it fun and interesting.
Oh, and one last thing: for the "heel" command word, I use the same upbeat voice I use for the "come" command. It should sound like an invitation to something nice and not like a scold or nor real demanding. You want them to respond and work towards that goal, but you want it to be lilting and up-beat.
Ew. I've likely been sounding imperious, menacing, a strident nag. I'll pay more attention to the non-literal communication -- try to make "Close!" sound like "Bacon!" Good point.


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