Hunting Dogs photo

When it comes to Heel, Pritch is a poor student. She’d rather follow her nose than my knee any day of the week. As usual, the fault probably lies in my delivery of the lesson but recently, thanks to a tip from a local trainer, I found a homemade device that has made a huge difference.

I’m not sure if it has a proper name–I bet some of you trainers may have seen one before–but I call it the Magic Stick (seen in the above photo). It’s a wooden dowel about three feet long with a screw eye in one end. A roughly two-foot piece of light rope is tied to the screw eye, and a clasp is attached to the opposite end. The idea is simple: The dowel gives you more leverage to work the dog through circles, figure eights, etc., necessary to teach your pup to Heel. But the dowel can also be used for corrections, whether it’s a tap to the dog’s chest when she’s leading you or a pop on the rump to get her to sit or inch closer to you.

The dowel also gives you plenty of leverage when working on Sit at a short distance from


the dog. You can make a circle around the dog while always being in position to give a correction. If your dog tries to swivel around just give the dowel a quick jerk upwards and command the dog to sit/stay.

I’m happy to report that within just a couple of sessions Pritch has made remarkable strides with her Heel. I’ve said it here numerous times before, but no dog is the same. Find what training method works for yours and use it.