How to teach a dog to heel

How to teach your dog the heel command is the best way of controlling your dog in many situations; your dog must already know the sit command first. Dogs often think that they are the leader of the pack, especially when outside. It’s your job to train them obedience and take over from the leader […]
A dog training with owner
Heel dog training command

How to teach your dog the heel command is the best way of controlling your dog in many situations; your dog must already know the sit command first. Dogs often think that they are the leader of the pack, especially when outside. It’s your job to train them obedience and take over from the leader of the pack position when outdoors.

What does the heel command mean?

The command “heel” tells your dog to come directly beside you and to be at your left side and not behind or in front. Your dog will learn to walk parallel beside you and at your pace. The heel command is the best way of controlling your dog in many situations when out walking. The heel command also teaches your dog not to pull on the lead its the perfect command when passing another dog, in overcrowded areas or by children.

What you need

To start the heel training, you will need to be in a quiet place with no distractions, grab your dogs favourite treats, collar and leash, and you should be ready to go. You don’t need a horrible choke collar or a clicker! 

Let us begin!

Dog lead, collar and treats
Dog lead, collar and treats

Heel command training steps

  1. Start by picking the lead up and calling your dog over, if your dog becomes over-excited put the dog lead back down. Your dogs need to be calm state before any training can start. Your dog also needs to know who makes the decisions, and you may need to repeat this a few times. Only move onto step 2 when your dog is calm. 
  2. The stop, start and change direction technique in the house. Walk around the house, changing direction often, when your dog gets the wrong direction or decides to pull away, say “heel”.  When he or she corrects the direction reward your dog with a treat and praise. If she doesn’t fix the direction, hold a treat to the nose and guide her to the correct position beside your left leg and carry on walking. Keep moving around the house for at least 15-30 minutes or until you think they have grasped the fact that they need to stay by your side, even if its the direction they don’t want to go in.
  3. After you have mastered the house stop, start and change direction. Its time to move to step 3. Take it into the garden where there will be many more distractions. Keep moving in the garden, changing directions constantly and implementing heel word when needed, like in step 2, don’t forget to reward and praise when needed. 
  4. Take your dog outside for a walk, this is the big test, open the door any sign of pulling, take back in and try again in 10 minutes. You’re in control, and you decide if its walking time. They need to know they aren’t the pack leader and can not pull. Repeat this many times until they walk out the door without any pulling at all. 
  5. Congratulations you have finally made it out the house. You are going to repeat the exact stop, start and change direction process outside. If your dog pulls change direction if they don’t change direction say heel and hold a treat to their nose and direct them to your side, don’t give them a treat at this point. You need to keep changing directions if they follow you provide them with a treat now and then. Keep repeating! until its second nature to them.

Conclusion

No need to use, horrid choke collars, or clickers! Just you a lead and some treats this is all you need. Make sure you only start this when you have enough time to commit, as this could take some time depending on your dog. Being safe outside whilst dog walking is essential, and your dog will benefit greatly from knowing the heel command, and so will you. You will be able to enjoy trouble-free walks together and be healthier and happier. Stay patient and praise when the time is right. Never get angry or tell them off whilst they are learning.

How about teaching your dog how to “leave it” command next?

Good luck!

About the Author

Teresa loves animals and travelling around the UK! She currently has two dogs and two cats. She loves caring for and sharing her knowledge of pets. Qualified Dog Groomer and currently studying Canine Behaviour. She has been part of the Dog Friendly Team since 2016

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