Friday, November 6, 2015

Teach Your Dog To Heel

Perfect, obedience-competition type heeling requires a lot of practice, but it's easy to teach your dog to heel in a more relaxed way. It's really nice having a dog who will walk right next to you in heel position without always having to tug on the leash to stop him from pulling.


1. Doing formal heeling means that when you stop walking, your dog automatically sits with his nose right in line with your left leg. The dog always heels on your left side. Have some very yummy treats in your left hand. Holding the leash with your right hand, have your dog sit on your left side. Get his attention, give him a treat to start the ball rolling. Start out with just his regular collar. If you find he needs "power steering" you can switch to a chain or prong collar later. Start in a location without distractions.

2. Since the dog gets his cues from the leg closest from him, step forward with your left foot and say HEEL. If he has never done this before, he'll probably either quickly get ahead of you, or lag behind. If he lags behind, give a little pop on the leash until he is in position and give him praise and a treat. If he gets ahead of you, make a quick turn to your right, pop the leash and again reward the minute he is in position.

3. This takes practice, especially with a large dog who must slow his natural gait to match yours. Making fast turns to keep him next to you is easier than constantly pulling back on the leash, and encourages him to pay attention to where you are going. Always give the HEEL command when changing direction and praise and reward frequently when he is in the correct position. Right turns are easiest at first but as he becomes more proficient, practice turning left into him, and doing fast about-turns.

4. If you want him to sit each time you stop, you will have to tell him SIT until he starts doing it automatically. Also, don't just suddenly stop walking. Slow and shorten your pace for a few steps before stopping to cue him in that you are about to stop. otherwise he won't have time to prepare to sit. If he sits crooked, only reward for straight sits. Another good strategy is to walk along a fence or wall, so he only has room to sit straight ahead.

5. Practice with varying your speed. Walk really slowly, then break into a trot, then back to your normal walking speed. Keep your tone of voice upbeat and make it as fun for your dog as possible. Keep the sessions short and end with a game of fetch or tug and lots of praise. Don't forget to always lead off with your left foot--this is his cue. As you walk, keep your left arm bent and your hand positioned near your stomach. It can be distracting and confusing for the dog if your arm is waving back and forth as you walk, especially if he knows you have treats in your hand!

Tags: your left, with your, with your left, left side, stop walking