From Vivian Bregman, (email@example.com)
To teach a left finish, start by putting a lure of some kind (food, toy, etc) in your left hand. Bring your left hand in a BIG circle from in front of you (by the dog's nose) out to your side and then your back as you step BACK with your left foot, This should bring the dog behind the heel position. Bring your hand up to the heel position as you bring your left foot foward. If needed, take a few steps.
Take several steps to do this --- that is, give the command, move your hand with the treat and as the dog gets up and takes a few steps reward. Ask for only this much for a few times before you go a bit further. Then step by step.
From Darby Lewes, (firstname.lastname@example.org)
With the dog in front position, say "heel" and move your left leg a BIG step backwards, drawing the lead toward your left side. Then, when she's standing next to you facing backwards, bring the leg back up again and she'll follow you into heel position. The whole thing should be one long slow swoop -- rather like a dance step. Gradually shorten the backward step, and then eventually eliminate it.
Courtesy of the non-trendy but still very useful Milo Pearsall and Blanche Saunders.
From Laurale Stern, (email@example.com)
Here's some more ideas for teaching the left finish:
- Find heel games - With the dog anywhere at the end of the lead, but not on a formal sit or heel command, say 'heel' and immediately take a large step backwards to the left, as large as possible, driving your dog behind you. Then, bring him up to your side and tell him 'sit'. Release and reward or give a treat while in the correct heel position. It helps to have a treat in your LEFT hand for the dog to follow while you are going behind with your leg and forward to heel position. Make these fun and do lots of these.
- Formal finish -- After doing the 'find heel' games for a couple weeks, begin the formal finish training. Tell your dog to 'sit and wait'. Step into the front position. With your lead in your left hand as well as a treat, tell your dog to 'heel'. Immediately take a LARGE step backward with your left leg while guiding your dog back with the lead and treat. If he prefers a toy, use his favorite toy for him to follow. Turn him into you and step up with your left leg so that it is even with your right as you tell your dog 'sit'. Give him the treat while in correct heel position and then break him off with a ball toss and play. Try to keep your arms as they will be when in the ring as soon as the dog is in correct heel position so that he learns to see you as you will be in the ring. Keep your shoulders straight, not tilted towards the dog, since this will cause most dogs to sit back or, when you finally straighten up, cause a huge forge on the finish.