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Hey All,

Eli, my 9 month old has been great, we have gone through multiple obedience and training classes. For the most part he has been a joy, very typical V, loves everything, always greets me with something to give me (sometimes the large bugs aren't my favorite). In the last week or so, it has been getting increasingly harder to walk on heel. He usually does a great job, we have been working with his heel training for a month or so, he absolutely knows what we are asking for and understands when he doesn't, but he just wants to follow his nose (birds, squirrels, ducks, deer, anything really). At this point he is basically ruled by his scenting everything, when his nose isn't on the ground he is doing what I call huffing, he draws air in and blows his cheeks out to better scent the air. I had been starting scent work, but wondering if I should stop until I figure out how best to redirect him when I don't want him on a scent. He has always been very scent oriented, he runs around the yard and finds ants underground and will dig them up if left unattended, voles, moles anything that he can smell he loves. Any ideas on how I can teach control at this stage? Part of me wants to chalk this up to his age, but he is super smart and if I let him get away with anything he remembers and will use it against me. Thanks in advance all!
 

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9 months... still a baby... yes, often a bit early for them to mind heel when on leash. remember, they were bred to be in front of handler to find and point those birds... personally i would practice heeling in low impact areas with familiar smells a lot, using plenty of treats or toys, whatever is his motivator. gradually moving to more complex areas and taking a step back whenever it feels that it is needed and being very patient, remembering that every dog is different.
i had the same challenge with Bende and still managed to put a CGC title on him at 10 months. our only difficulty when training for it was the heel work, so practiced it a lot. he did perfect at the exam then, and as soon as i had the paper handed over by the judge congratulating, he started jumping around and pulling, ok mom, let`s go find some exiting smells now, i did what u were asking, so where is my environmental reward:))).
having said that, he was a breeze to train off leash... again something much closer to what they were bred for, so i have also learnt to manage expectation. we have a `deal` now: we walk on leash till the area where he can run off leash. he heels till then and then gets released. on the way home i put the leash back on him, but often drop it and he just walks in perfect heel position next to me. no more birds to sniff then:). so just give time a patience to your pup when practicing, he will come around.
 

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I find at this age, long walks at heel are tough on them. I like to switch back and forth. Just a few mintues of heel work, then release them to smell, and check everything out. 5 minutes of heel, and 10 of free time.
This helps them to be more successful. It also cuts down on frustration.
 

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Thanks so much to both of you! He is young, I think sometimes I take that for granted as he has been so receptive to his training. He loves to work and will do just about anything asked. I started working him off leash the last few nights, just a few short periods at a time. Gabica, your right, his off leash heel is more natural and he doesn't seem to mind as much. He naturally wants to be close to me (he has always wanted to be exactly where I am) so it worked out. I let him sniff and follow his nose, asked him to come back to me and was successful with short heel sessions. I am going to continue this for a bit and see how it goes! THanks!
 
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