The Power of Recall to Side/Heel - Video

29 Aug 2014Steve Schwarz

Training a Recall to Side or Recall to Heel is an important foundation agility skill that is often overlooked or brushed past when starting training an agility dog.

Basic Recall to Heel

There are a number of concrete benefits of this training:

  • Builds body awareness/collection skills. To come running up and stopping at your side your dog learns to change from extension to collection.
  • Reinforces all body cues, especially motion (including de/acceleration), shoulders, arms and eye contact. You are presenting your rotated shoulders, arm, eye contact and rewarding your dog for coming to the correct side. Each rep of the drill reinforces those cues - the same cues all handling systems use when running a course.
  • Reinforces your dog coming to the indicated side without cutting behind you or in front of you.
  • A dog that comes to the side you've cued makes it easy to move past an obstacle in Snooker and "International" handling classes.
Linda Mecklenburg kindly posted a reprint of her article "Using Heel Position in Agility". Her article describes how to train this skill, shows good and bad positions and discusses the training progression. I can't emphasize enough how helpful having this skill is.

Here is a video I added after I wrote this article earlier this year showing the training progression:

Training the Recall to Side

For Meeker this training gave me a “secret collection weapon” If I needed collection on the approach to a jump I could drop my hand down to my side with an open palm (like when delivering a treat) and Meeker would start to decelerate! Came in handy when I wanted to send him to a jump in (partial) collection for a tight turn when I didn’t need/want to be at the jump.

If you put the work in you’ll find so many benefits of training this foundation skill!

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