Dog Heeling Tips

by Naomi Millburn
    Stay in synch with your cutie -- by teaching him to heel.

    Stay in synch with your cutie -- by teaching him to heel.

    vvvita/iStock/Getty Images

    In training your adorable pooch, heeling is one of the most useful and handy components. Dogs who are trained to heel properly can easily maintain their owners' walking paces, and also know to sit when their owners stop moving. In heeling, it's crucial for doggies to remain close to their owners.

    When a dog heels, he stays by the knee of his walker's leg at all times. Heeling dogs never proceed forward unless specifically instructed to do so by their walkers. Essentially, heeling entails staying close. For the most part, dogs are trained to heel to the left -- a result of most peoples' natural right-handed tendencies.

    If your dog gets a little burst of energy and speeds ahead of you while you're walking him, allow him to extend his leash to its fullest length. Once that occurs, firmly state the "heel" command. Then, moving to the right, swiftly switch your direction and make a full reversal. Your furball will take note and have no choice but to flip around his course and catch up to you. When he does, enthusiastically praise him and make sure he knows he did a good thing.

    Tasty treats are an extremely useful tool for teaching your doggie to heel. Before you do anything, allow your dog to look at the treat that's tucked away in your hand. Then move your hand to the side of your body, by the knee of your left limb. Once your pooch zeroes in on the treat you're holding, feed it to him and then enthusiastically say "good boy" while petting his back or head. After he's done, clearly say the "heel" command and then walk to the front starting from your left side. If you always start moving from the left, then your doggie will always view that as his hint to get into motion. The point of keeping the treat in your hand as you move is to encourage your pet to go after the tantalizing goal, and in turn walk closely right next to you.

    Repetition is key to training dogs how to heel. When you employ the technique of traveling one step to the front at a time, it's important always to give your pet the "sit" command immediately upon stopping. If he sits when you stop, give him yet another treat and then ardently and eagerly praise him by saying "good boy." Keep repeating the "step and treat" exercise, and then gradually up the amount of steps you take before stopping. As your dog's heeling abilities advance, slowly reduce the number of treats you give him. By the end, treats shouldn't be necessary at all.

    You don't want to risk losing your pet's focus as you train him to heel, so never repeat the exercise more than three times in a row. The poor thing could get tired out, and fast. By giving your pooch a chance to relax, you can keep him feeling good about the whole thing -- and that's the goal.

    If your pet is new to the whole concept of walking with you, train him to heel in as calm and quiet a location as possible. If you are in too exciting an area, such as a bustling public park, you run the risk of your canine paying more attention to the unfamiliar things surrounding them than to the treats in your hand.

    Never be lazy about teaching your pet to heel; it has various helpful benefits. Not only is proper heeling beneficial for maneuvering through especially packed areas, it also can be a safety precaution. If you want your pet to walk around hazardous ice melters on the ground in the winter, heeling keeps him right next to you, instead of exploring in other directions.

    Photo Credits

    • vvvita/iStock/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

    Trending Dog Training Articles

    Have a question? Get an answer from a Vet now!