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Learn complete pet parent guide on training a dog to heel!

woman walking her dog advice
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Surely, you have experienced that walking is one of the best experiences you can have with your dog. That is why training a dog to heel is so important!

By Daniel Mar

Having a dog involves a lot of walking around. It’s one of the core elements in the relationship between a pet parent and his dog. Likewise, it is one of the greatest bonding moments that you can ever dream of having with your dog. Also, walking is a great form of exercise for your pet. Now, you should think about the last time you took your dog out on a leashed walk. Was it perfect? Did he behave? Was he beside you on a loose leash? If your answers to these questions are perfect, then you already have a hang of it! But if you don’t, then it is time for you to learn about training a dog to heel.

Why is training a dog to heel an important task?

You might enjoy getting dragged around by your dog the first few times you are walking around. But, eventually, you will grow tired of it. Usually, pet parents dislike being dragged around by their dogs. And, it may come as a shock to you, but dogs don’t enjoy dragging you either. Not only are they pulling you constantly, but this excess force can be tiring for their hips, neck, and throat. That is why training a dog to heel is so important! Therefore, as a pet parent, it is your responsibility to learn how to teach a dog to heel.

Furthermore, eventually, both you and your dog will appreciate the training, especially when visiting crowded places like parks or the beach! You need to feel confident and calm about your dog’s behaviour in such type of places.

Let’s get you started with the basics of training a dog to heel

training a dog to heel
The "Heel" position
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Vets call “Heel” the position in which your dog is facing the same direction you are while walking together. This position is characterised by the collar ‘lined up’ with your left leg. Additionally, your dog’s front toes are in line with your shoes.  In a way, your dog should be parallel with you but in a straight line. This means that he should not stick their rear end out or cross in front of your path.

How to train a dog to heel?

Vets recommend teaching a dog to heel at mealtime. Also, the first time you attempt this should be in a controlled environment. Make sure you have a bowl full of food treats. Once you are ready to begin, feed your dog one treat. The key to feeding your dog while training him is to take each piece with your left hand and bring it down to your dog exactly in the position where you want him to be. It is important that your dog doesn’t go after the treats or gets it if he is out of position. Each time you give the treat, try to smile and say “Yes”.

Next, you have to teach your dog to be a responsible leader. First, you must step into the leadership role. For that, you need to be communicative. This involves signalling your dog when you are moving and where you are heading. Whenever you stop, and start to walk again, use the command “Let’s Go”. Say this command each time you are going to begin walking again. Eventually, your dog will understand what “Let’s Go” means and he will move together with you. If after several attempts, your dog is not in a “Heel” position when you take the first step together, you have to start all over again.

At first, try areas with minimal distractions! All throughout this teaching process, offer treats while you are walking. In the beginning, offer a treat every 2 steps in heel position.  Then, take 2 steps and place a treat while continuing to walk.  Repeat the process until you both grow tired. In time, you will be able to walk 5, 10, or even 50 steps in heel position.

Important considerations

Food motivation is very important to teach a dog to heel. Not only does it help him to focus but it is a magnificent way to make him look forward to something after a good behaviour.

Once your dog has mastered heeling in quiet areas, move on to more populated areas. You need to be patient! Do not expect your dog to know how to behave when you change the environment!

Also, bear in mind that, when walking with your dog on a lead, you should not feel tension on the lead. It has to remain loose! If you can’t manage to keep it loose, then you are teaching your dog to fight against that tension.

Teaching a dog to heel opens up a whole world of possibilities between a pet parent and his pet. Both of you will enjoy walking together like never before! That is why you should follow this pet parent guide to properly teach your dog the “Heel” command.

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