Teaching Your Dog to Heel
By Earl Lord
Teaching your dog to heel is one of the most basic and important dog training commands you can teach. With an active and younger dog or puppy, it can be especially difficult, but with patience and consistency, it doesnâ€™t really have to be that hard to train your dog to heel.
The best time to practice teaching your dog to heel is before youâ€™ve begun going on walks. Your dog is easily distracted out on the street and you will need his attention to properly teach the heel command. Also, you want to be in a patient and pleasant mood. Do not begin this, or any other dog training session, if you are angry or in a testy mood. You should not train your dog in an unkind or rough manner. Furthermore, it is best to teach the heel command after your dog knows his name and the â€œSitâ€ command.
You will want to limit the heel training session, as with other dog training sessions, especially for young puppies to about 10 or 15 minutes and to 2 or 3 times in a day. Make sure they’ve gone to the bathroom and have eaten and had some water. You want their full attention for this.
For this training session, you might want to use a dog training collar, but it is not necessary. In the backyard or garden put a lead on the dog, and keep him on your left side. Hold the leash in both hands, your right hand through the loop and your left hand holding the leash with your elbow by your side and out straight.
You want to keep your dog’s neck about even with your left leg, and as you begin to move that is the signal for the dog to begin walking. Your dog or puppy will initially not understand what to do and either try to run ahead or around. Simply make gentle corrections, say “Heel” and keep them on your left side. Try to keep the lead slack and if your dog begins to tug on it either stop or gently correct with the leash and stop moving. Do not pull your dog forward or yank the leash back violently. Continue moving only as your dog is on your left side. Try not to move if the leash becomes tight as this teaches them to tug and pull on it.
You will want to vary your direction and speed, turning in circles or doing figure eights. As your dog goes in the correct direction on your left side, remember to give lots of praise. You might use a dog training clicker or a treat, but try to keep your methods consistent with other dog training commands you use. Try to end the dog training session on a positive note with something the dog has done correctly, followed by lots of praise.
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