What is a Heel in Dog Training?
Almost every dog trainers will tell you that one of the most common complaints we hear from dog owners is that their dogs have bad leash manners.
Dog dart and move from left to right, smelling every flower, tree, or plant along the road as they walk, and pulling their owners to anywhere they want to go.
These folks are basically controlled by their pooches. Training your dog to heel will change the situation.
Training a dog to heels is easier said than done to some people.
This is because some people believe that the “heel” position means that your dog is supposed to curl up at your feet.
Of course, No; the “heel” command implies that you want the dog to stay by your side and follow you step by step as if there is an invisible leash fastening your dog to your leg.
If you are looking for easy tips on how to train your dog to heel, this is the right article for you.
I have explained steps that are used by professional dog trainers to help you.
How to Training a Dog to Heel?
Heeling is different from walking your dog. Do not try to exercise your dog by heeling. Take it for a regular walk first. Then practice your heeling.
Remember to praise the dog as much as possible.
During heeling training, make sure you praise him between corrections. You should praise your dog ten times for each correction you give.
Bend down and pat your dog with your left hand while you are heeling, so he doesn’t learn to interpret any movement of your hands as a leash correction.
Walk the talk
Training a full-grown dog or a puppy the ‘heel’ command is not an easy task.
You will have to be patient and remember that using brute force to pull your pooch with the leash is not what “heel” command is about.
You will need to train your puppy to literally follow you step by step, whether a walk or a gentle run.
Think of those dog shows, with each dog running next to his master, that’s what heel command is all about.
To begin the lesson by standing next to your dog, with some doggy treats in your hand.
Make eye contact
- Call your puppy’s name to get his or her attention. Once you do this, you have to move forward a few steps.
- If your dog stays close to you and does not get distracted, give him a treat.
Train on a short walk
- Repeat this step again and again. Ensure that you reward your dog only if he stays by your side all the time.
- Over time, the dog will understand what you want it to do and will “heel” all the way by your side.
Verbalize the heel command
Once you get your puppy to “follow” your steps, you must verbalize the command.
Simply say your name with the “heel” command. If he keeps listening to you, well, it’s almost over.
Now you need to do the heel with your dog. Extend the steps; take your puppy for a long walk inside your house in a “heel” position.
When you are convinced that the dog is able to follow the command without a problem, take him for a heel walk or run outside in the garden.
A garden will have more distractions than your living room, so chances are your dog is likely to get distracted the first few times.
However, once he understands that you will reward him with treats when he does the right thing, he will “heel” perfectly.
So do the heel with your pooch, take him for a jog and, in time, you should be able to jog fast with your dog by your side, and then practice the “heel” command.
The “heel” will bring you and the dog closer and, over time, you will develop a very healthy relationship with your puppy.
The good news is that this command will allow you and your dog to get a healthy dose of exercise.
Tips to Teach Your Dog to Heel
So, follow these few simple steps, just like professional dog trainers do, and you will train your dogs to heel in a short time.
Begin with your puppy in a heel position, which means that the dog should be on your left side, with the dog ear aligned with the seam of your pants, the dog body parallel to yours.
Ensure the collar is okay and properly fit on the dog’s neck.
Give the heel command, also at the same time as you give the command, move out with your left foot and start walking fast.
It is important to start on the left foot.
If you start with the right foot, your dog cannot see you start because it cannot see past your left leg, and when he realizes that you have started walking, it has already fallen behind.
If the dog does not start to walk automatically when you move, give him a slight drag with the leash in the forward direction.
You want the dog to move forward with you, so you drag the leash in that direction correctly.
You can repeat the command when correcting the dog.
If your dog gets ahead of you and is no longer in the heel position, drag the leash backward to tell the dog to slow down.
Don’t let the dog walk ahead or behind your left leg.
The dog should be taught that the word “heel” means “stick to my master’s left leg.”
Be sure you decide the route to take, don’t follow your dog around in order to avoid correcting it.
Correcting your dog properly will not harm the dog.
It is a quick hold and release of the leash, except your dog tries to drag you, in which case you need to apply stable pressure.
Do not let the dog pull you anywhere.
If you find it tough to pull the leash with force, try wearing gloves and you will get more traction on the leash.
For stubborn dogs, I recommend using leather gloves and a leather leash.
If you want your dog to automatically sit every time you stop walking.
When you start, give him a sit command each time you stops wandering and then let the dog sit.
For instance, gets your dog to sit in a heel position. Say the heel command and move out with your left foot.
If he does not follow, correct it, repeat the command and continue walking.
If he leaves the heel position while walking, correct it again in the correct direction, repeat the command and continue walking.
Then come to a stop by bringing your feet’s together. Tell your pup to sit and then make him sit.
Just say the sit command once. Immediately you get him seated, you can start heeling again by giving the heel command and begin with your left foot.
In time, the dog will sit when you stop walking.
In competition, it is mandatory that the dog sits without giving the command, therefore sooner or later; you will need to practice it that way.
Benefits of the Heel positions
Apart from the relaxing value of having your dog walk quietly by your side.
The heel position has a significant positive impact on your dog general state of mind and adds enormous benefits to any dog training program.
The following are the benefits of the heel position.
Physical positioning and RESPECT
This position of your dog during walking tells a lot about the dog mental state.
When your pooch walks calmly by your side, he is connected to you, focused on where you are and where you are going.
This makes the dog less likely to react to things in the environment, not only because of the dog physical position but also because he is relaxed and tuned into you.
As you know, dogs are very impulsive creatures.
A walk brings a lot of temptations and distractions on their way, making it difficult for them to stay focus and interact with you.
A regulated walk exercises your puppy, not only physically, but also mentally.
A tired dog is a well-behaved dog, and heeling with your dog will leave him more prepared to relax at home.
Having a dog walking by your side requires him to have a lot of confidence in you as a leader.
As he follows your direction, instead of letting him take the lead, he will calm down and relax.
Dogs learn that they do not have to worry about all those terrifying things in the world because they are being guided through safely.
For dogs that feel fearful, nervous, or anxious, this can be a huge benefit.
Heeling is like doing yoga, you feel relaxes after a session;
You feel like you have worked your body and your mind and your sense of well-being has completely changed for better.
A heel walk with your dog should leave him feeling the same.