The Heeler's Toolbox II / Intermediate

Beyond the Basics

Skill Level: Intermediate

Length: 6 Modules

Access Period: Unlimited

Price: $149.00

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The Heeler's Toolbox is a series of classes with a comprehensive curriculum focusing on beginner, intermediate, and advanced obedience skills and techniques essential to any competitive obedience team. This series focuses heavily on both How to teach powerful, precise, and elegant heeling work, and Why the itemized skills and concepts are a benefit to any serious competitive partnership.


Intermediate Course Objective:

To break down and explore 'post foundation' heeling skills and concepts that affect precision, attitude, and sustainable performance within competitive heeling teams. Goals of this course are to build off of foundation concepts from HT1 in order to further equip both dog and handler with the necessary physical, mental, and presentation skills to maximize the relationship and heeling experience; and the knowledge and confidence to fluidly implement these skills into their continued heeling program.


Intermediate Description:

This is a five week course detailing the evolution of our foundation heeling skills into more advanced precision heeling concepts. Each week will be dedicated to the breakdown, discussion, and application of a different Intermediate skill. Skills covered in the intermediate class include: 'Adding Movement - Critical First Steps', 'Proper Use of Toy Reward', ‘Reward Placement',  ‘Bridge Behaviors’, and 'Touch Pads & Placeboards'. Class will be a mix of online peer discussion, written lecture, video lecture, and video homework assignments (students will be required to film their training for some portions of the class). This class is neither graded or pass / fail.


1: Adding Movement: Critical First Steps

1 min 14 sec


This module closely details how we begin to incorporate movement into our heeling picture. Up until now, any forward movement we've done in the heel position has been heavily assisted by the use of hand lures or other physical helps. It's now time to remove those helps and ask the dog to learn to be accountable for both head and body position. The first steps we take as a team will be important, and we'll take care to call on the strength of our foundation work to drive the learning process.

The good news is, in the beginner class we have thoroughly taught, for both human and canine training partner, the itemized skills we will call on to ease into movement with precision and confidence. This foundation will help us transition into movement while maintaining the the beautiful head and body position we have worked so hard to shape. 

We will start with a refresher of the appropriate handler mechanics as well as some short and fun sessions with our dog to ensure both parties are in the best possible position to (literally) move forward.


2: Proper Use of Toy Reward

1 min 11 sec


When properly shaped, toy rewards and interactive play can be incredibly powerful tools to drive our competitive obedience programs. To get the most out of this tool, it is useful to understand the strong benefits of its proper incorporation, as well as the pitfalls of improperly building it into our obedience program.

For dogs that prefer it, toy play can add a level of energy and dynamic to our obedience training that may be hard to obtain simply through the use of food. When moving to toy reward, it behooves us to do so in a way that instills a cooperative and confident attitude around it. While this process is always dog dependent, there are some basic, yet important skills which we can shape to ensure we can use this tool to its greatest function and benefit.

This module breaks down some basic concepts and rules regarding play to best position both handler and canine with the right perspective and approach to the interaction. Before we itemize the specific skills necessary for a successful play relationship, we first need to develop the correct attitude in the handler regarding play. We will also focus on shaping the appropriate skills and attitude of both the handler and canine in the context of interactive toy play.


3: Reward Placement

1 minute


Understanding the power of Reward Placement not only has a profound effect on our heeling work and other aspects of precision training program, but can greatly shape us as developing trainers, too. It may seem like a simple concept, and in reality it is, but it's a concept that can be fundamental to building and rehabilitating detailed pieces of precision training.

Much of the effectiveness of Reward Placement is the creativity and diversity it allows in our training. The options available to us as we begin to explore how and why it works become endless. Through its understanding we find the ability to affect expectations and attribute value in our obedience based on our dog's specific needs. No dog is outside the benefits of understanding the economics of this skill. 

Within this module we will explore specific deliveries and presentations for reward placement from heel position, and discuss which deliveries are best suited for specific energy and motivation types and why they work. Following this module's material, you will leave with an understanding of which reward placement best suits your individual dog moving forward and how to best use it to aid the learning of your desired heeling picture and relationship.


4: Bridge Behaviors

1 min 21 sec


Bridge Behaviors, simply put, are behaviors that are attached to another behavior, which serve a functional purpose through that attachment.

That purpose can be to:

  • supplement energy
  • build repertoire of solicitation behaviors
  • mechanical maintenance (preserving a position)
  • building attitude
  • varying reward schedules
  • adding novelty to our training sessions

In this class, we’ll call on Bridge Behaviors to serve all of the aforementioned purposes.

We can think of Bridge Behaviors as a compliment. Which compliment we choose to attach to our heeling is dependent on the individual dog, and can have a huge impact on the dog's overall feeling of, and performance, in heeling.

From the dog’s perspective, Bridge Behaviors gain their value from the Power-Up work we did in HT1. There, we focused on creating these behaviors through fun and snappy games with thick reinforcement schedules. Through that conditioning, these behaviors now serve as secondary reinforcers to the dog – meaning, they likely predict the availability of primary reinforcement. We’ll take care moving forward to maintain this conditioning around the behaviors.

It’s now time to attach these power-ups to our heeling work. The specific power-up we choose to attach to heeling will depend strongly on our individual dog. Through that attachment, these behaviors will add value to the preceding behavior, compliment the dog’s energy in the desired direction, and add another functional, favorable Bridge between heeling, and the celebration that comes through it.


5: Perches & Placeboards

1 min 6 sec


Perches and Place Boards are both physical aids which we can creatively use to help in the teaching a variety of obedience behaviors. Like any training aid, they need to be thoughtfully introduced, utilized to expedite learning, and eventually weaned off.

Perches (also called bucket work or touch pads) and Place Boards are strong physical tools and references that help us split specific behavior into fine pieces, limit our dog's mistakes, and take greater control of our environment and training sessions. In this class we will use them to teach skills specific to the development of heeling work.

Perch work can be very effective in helping our dog gain awareness of their hind end – which can assist in teaching pivots, side-passing, and other complicated patterns in our heel work. While Place Boards can be used to aid in the teaching of a wide range of behaviors in obedience and protection programs, in this course we call on them specifically for the training of correct fronts and finishes.

Correctly used these tools have the power to limit mistakes (or unintentional learning) in training and speed up the generalization process of behaviors. Positive Reinforcement Based training requires that we the trainers find creative ways to control our environment, encourage continued effort, and limit our dog’s ability to be incorrect in training. These tools accomplish just that.


Trainers who have already completed Part 1 of the Heeler's Toolbox series, or who already have some experience with the basics of heeling.


Students should have taken Heeler's Toolbox / Beginner or have a basic understanding of heeling fundamentals. Students should have a firm understanding or proper handler mechanics, use of markers, a motivated training partner, and canine foundation skills. Students should have access to a sterile training environment, a canine training partner, internet access and typing capabilities, food or toy reward, leash and collar or harness, 30 minutes of learning/training time per day, 'Perch' / Touch pad & Place Board (detailed in week 5). While optional, we recommend trainers have a training vest, bait bag or sweatshirt with reward pocket



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What's the difference between this course, the DVD, and the stream?


DVD:  4 hours 54 minutes (physical copy)

Stream:  4 hours 54 minutes, lifetime access, stream from anywhere

Online Course:  139 videos (341 minutes), additional text content, discussion board,  lifetime access, stream from anywhere

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