“Contact Heeling for Detection, Sport and Everyday Life” with Forrest Micke

Part 1: Mechanical Skills | Teaching Contact | Adding Movement 

Module 1: Dog & Handler Mechanical Skills: Food manipulation, markers, closed hand games, power steering technique, footwork, beginning contact.

Module 2: Seeking the Leg: Incidental contact, side steps & binding, marker discrimination, stability & duration, basic proofing, troubleshooting

Module 3: Proofing & Remote Rewards: fading hand helps, adding remote rewards, forward movement & turning, leash help, advanced proofing

(Each module is approximately 30 mins.)


Of all the behaviors my dogs learn to do, if I run into another dog person and they’ve never seen it before, ‘Contact Heel’ is the thing they ask about. They immediately see its practicality and inquire how to teach it. For me it functions to give my dog a clear, composed connection to me even in high stakes environments. The tactile nature of the behavior I believe gives it an advantage. Over the years I’ve taught this behavior to a range of dogs in various ways. You can look at this tutorial as a path with options. You’ll find clear progressions and instructions within it, but I hope you leave room to play and create in your own way. I’ve divided the tutorial into 2 Parts. Each Part has 3 modules.

Part 1 shows you how to use food to develop head and body awareness in your dog. This makes it easy for us to ‘power steer’ them into our leg. Then we add hand games and footwork to teach our dog to always seek the leg even as we add challenges, like the introduction of remote rewards. By the end of Part 1 expect your dog to have a clear idea of contact heeling and for you the handler to have the confidence to practice this training across new environments.

Part 2 (coming soon!) begins by detailing how we communicate with our dogs using a leash and how we add that skill into our contact heel work. We’ve provided many visual examples of what we consider advanced proofing – ways to continue to challenge your training so that it endures. And we’ll give you tips for generalizing this behavior, so you can take it anywhere.

Wherever or for whatever you choose to use this endlessly useful behavior, we hope you find this tutorial fun, easy to follow, and especially worthwhile.


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