Teach A Dog To Heel

How to Teach a Dog to Heel

teach a dog to heelHow to teach a dog to heel is a command that many people confuse with leash training. While it is something that you can definitely use while you are walking your dog, the main goal is to command your dog's attention. You use the "heel" command when your dog gets distracted by other animals and children.

Teaching a dog to heel is one of the harder commands because it really requires your dog to know what you want from them. For this reason, a lot of dog owners don't bother with it.

However, it is important to teach a dog to heel. Once you do, you will know that you have complete control of your dog and can take them anywhere you go.

What Does it Mean to Teach a Dog to Heal?

The proper heeling position is when your dog is as close to your leg as possible and will not move until you tell them otherwise. Because this is such a specific command, you really need to use everything you have learned throughout your dog obedience training journey.

You need to be patient, move slowly, and slowing build on the command until you dog gets it. If you do these things, and follow the steps to teaching your dog how to heel will succeed in learning it.

Steps to Teach a Dog to Heel

To teach a dog to heel you can use a leash if you want, but it's not necessary. If you do use one, you have to remember that pulling your dog into position will not help them learn. Just like with your dog's crate, you want them to feel like they are choosing to be by your side because it is the best place to be. You don't want them to feel like they are being punished.

The first thing you need to do is get your dog to stand by your side, very close to your leg. You should be facing in the same direction that they are. Make sure that you are holding a treat in the hand that is closest to your dog. Don't wave it around in front of their face, but rather have your hand near your waist.

What you are going to do is say your dog's name to get their attention. Make eye contact with them. While maintaining eye contact, step forward a little bit (one or two steps are fine). Your dog should follow you and stay in the same heel position. If they do this, give them the treat and give them a lot of praise!

You are going to repeat this same procedure a couple of times, never stepping too far away from your dog. You want them to just get comfortable staying close to your side. Every time they manage to follow your steps, praise them. Give them a treat some of the time they succeed as well.

Sometimes, your dog will be doing a great job but will lose focus and get distracted. So if they fail to stay close to you, or go too far ahead, don't give them a reward or praise. You can just say something like, "No" and go through the process again.

Once your dog is getting really good at a couple of steps, start taking more steps, rewarding them for following you each time. At this point, you aren't saying the verbal command yet. You just want your dog to really understand that when they follow you and stay close, they get rewarded.

Wait until your dog has mastered following you every time you go about 8 to 12 steps forward, and then you are ready to attach the "heel" command.

All you need to do to teach a dog to heal at this point is say the command immediately before stepping forward. You can continue to praise your dog and give them treats (occasionally) when they succeed. The goal at this point is to get your dog used to hearing the heel command. You will have to continue to repeat it until they are used to hearing it and understand what it means.

Certain breeds will pick up the heel command very quickly, while others may take time. Be patient, because this is a very valuable obedience command to learn and an important part of the dog training process.

Teach a Dog to Heel - Master the Command

When your dog is getting really good at heeling on command, you should try to challenge them a little more. Take them out to your front yard where there are plenty of other distractions. Take them to a park and do the same thing, as there will be a lot of children and other dogs.

Try to really mix it up with your dog by varying the speed that you go forward, as well as how far you go each time. Not only will this really test how well your dog knows the command, it will be fun for them! They will see it as a challenge.

If you really want to test your dog's focus and mastery of heeling, try tossing a chew toy or treat out in front of you while telling them to heel. If they can resist the lure of food and fun, they have mastered heeling.


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