Heeling off Leash

Kees heeling over a bridge in the Ch in France.

Heeling off Leash

In New Mexico, handler had to heel in and out of the various animals in the merry go round.

Heeling off Leash

In the WC in Belgium, handlers had to heel under the giant pink elephant during the heeling pattern.

Heeling off Leash

Remembering the pattern can be difficult.

Heeling off Leash

Props can attract the dogs.

Absence of Handler

The Ferris Wheel served as the distraction in New Mexico. Fairgrounds in place, complete with Merry Go Round and Ferris Wheel that actually turned.

Heeling off Leash
Heeling off Leash

Marki & Jury deal with the mirror.

Heeling off Leash

Handling challenges…how to keep dog off of the object while stepping over it.

Heel off Leash

Points: 6

Description of the exercise

The judge and the ring assistant gives the DH and his dog a specified route, which they shall follow. It contains 3 changes of directions as right or acute angles, 1 turn and 2 stops by the signals from the judge.

Sounds simple. Not many points. How hard can it be? Generally, the heeling pattern for the Brevet is relatively simple. Small distractions along the way, not too complicated. The degree of difficulty increases in each class. The following are brief examples of either patterns or challenges that have been used in various trials here in the United States:

  • Heel up steps and then down steps (over a small podium).
  • Begin heeling pattern from a seated position (in a chair).
  • Kick a basketball out of the way.
  • Duck under a canopy along the way.
  • Step over hay bale, step over agility tunnel, step over construction fence, step over barrels. (not all in same event !)
  • Heel with a group of people leading and following.
  • Heel through and under tarps and sheets on a clothes line.

Account of the exercise

In the heeling exercise, the handler is allowed to give the command to begin (Dog Heel) at the departure line*. Handler may not speak to the dog again at any point in the exercise. The Deputy Judge will show the handler where the preparation line is, and handler is expected to remember the pattern from the demonstration by the Chien Blanc (Dog in White). The judge will indicate that the handler is to move forward from the preparation line to the departure line by signaling with the horn. Again, the judge will signal the beginning of the exercise at the line of departure by signaling with the horn. At several places during the pattern, the judge will honk the horn to indicate to the handler that he should stop. The horn then will sound to begin again. When the handler hears a series of beeps from the horn, the exercise is over.

The challenge in this exercise is two fold. First, it is necessary that the handler REMEMBER the heeling pattern that has been demonstrated by the Chein Blanc (Dog in White, or practice/demo dog). The second challenge is the issue of handling the dog through the distractions along the way.

That second challenge separates the ‘men from the boys’, so to speak, in Mondioring heeling. How to approach that basket…how hard to kick the ball…..which leg to lead with over an obstacle…..how fast to walk……how to pick up the wheelbarrow without totally distracting the dog’s concentration….. In short, how to convey to the dog that “Yes….this IS still heeling!!!” without saying a word to the dog. No commands, no body language, no extra help along the way. The judge give the handler general directions during the Chein Blanc’s heeling pattern with regards to what needs to happen in the exercise. However, many small details are not ‘spelled out’ that you can use to your advantage. Small details can make or break the exercise for the dog/handler team. Several photos are included here to demonstrate some of the heeling challenges over the past few years in America.

NOTE to handlers:

* Remember that in Mondioring there are TWO lines to deal with when approaching and departing from most exercises.  The “preparation line” is an imaginary line 3 meters behind the “line of departure”.  The handler presents himself at the preparation line, looks at the judge, and is given a signal by horn to move forward to the actual line of departure.  At the departure line, another signal will be given to proceed.  More information to follow in another article on this topic.