How to Teach Your Dog to Heel

by Kimberly DeCosta
    Your dog should match your pace instead of rushing ahead of you.

    Your dog should match your pace instead of rushing ahead of you.

    Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Teaching your dog to heel is an often overlooked command, especially if your dog is frequently on a leash or in a confined space. It is an extremely valuable tool in unfamiliar situations or exciting environments. With daily practice at home, during walks and other outings, your canine companion can learn to stay faithfully at your side, no matter the circumstance.

    Step 1

    Choose the side on which you would like your dog to heel. Make sure you are always consistent walking your dog on either your left or right side, and do not switch sides.

    Step 2

    Place a slip leash on your dog. A collar that tightens when pulled is also acceptable if you attach a conventional leash to it. A slip leash is a collar and leash in one, and the dog will respond to the tightening of the leash if you correct him. This type of leash or collar holds your dog's attention when he is learning a new command.

    Step 3

    Cue your dog to sit. Say his name, and then give the "Heel" command when he gives you his attention. Begin to walk forward in a straight line. It's helpful to begin this exercise on pavement; the lack of interesting smells and sights minimizes distraction and to encourages your dog to walk in a forward and straight direction.

    Step 4

    Correct your dog when he pulls away or gets distracted by giving him a quick pull on the leash followed by a release. Immediately turn and begin to walk in the opposite direction. Once your dog to comes back to your side, ask him to sit, cue him to heel again and begin walking forward.

    Step 5

    Practice the sit, heel and walk cues several times daily and always on leash until your dog understands the heel cue and walks alongside you calmly and at your pace.

    An Item You Will Need

    • Slip leash or adjustable collar and leash

    Tip

    • A slip leash is fitted correctly when it fits snugly around the dog's neck. You should be place to place three fingers between the dog's neck and the leash for a proper fit.

    Warning

    • A slip leash should never be consistently tight around a dog's neck. Pull swiftly on the leash only when making a correction, and immediately release to avoid hurting your dog.

    Photo Credits

    • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Kimberly DeCosta is an accomplished equestrian and entrepreneur. She has written for numerous equestrian publications and authored marketing packages for large companies and sports teams.

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