Training your dog to heel while walking is an important skill that can help you maintain control and keep your dog safe while out on a walk.
It can also be a great way to strengthen your bond with your dog and improve your communication with each other. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to train your dog to heel while walking:
Step 1: Choose a reward
Before you start training your dog to heel, you need to decide what you will use as a reward. Some good options include treats, toys, or praise. Choose something that your dog finds highly motivating and that you can easily carry with you while training.
Step 2: Start with a stationary position
Before you start walking, practice heeling with your dog in a stationary position. Stand facing your dog with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Hold a treat or toy in your left hand and hold your right hand out in front of you with your palm facing your dog.
Step 3: Get your dog's attention
Say your dog's name and show them the treat or toy in your left hand. As soon as they look at it, say "heel" and take a step backwards. Your dog should follow you as you step back. If they don't, gently guide them with the treat or toy in your hand.
Step 4: Practice heeling in a straight line
Once your dog is following you as you take a step backwards, try walking in a straight line with your dog heeling beside you. If they start to pull ahead, stop walking and wait for them to come back to your side. Then, say "heel" and start walking again.
Step 5: Practice heeling around corners
Next, practice heeling around corners. Turn to the left or right and take a few steps in that direction. Your dog should follow you around the corner, staying at your side. If they don't, stop walking and wait for them to come back to your side. Then, say "heel" and start walking again.
Step 6: Practice heeling on different surfaces
It's important to practice heeling on a variety of surfaces, such as grass, gravel, and pavement. This will help your dog understand that the heel command applies no matter where you are walking.
Step 7: Practice heeling with distractions
Once your dog is heeling well in a quiet environment, start adding in distractions. You could walk past other dogs, people, or objects that your dog might be interested in. If they start to pull ahead or get distracted, stop walking and wait for them to come back to your side. Then, say "heel" and start walking again.
Step 8: Gradually increase the distance
As your dog gets better at heeling, gradually increase the distance you walk together. This will help your dog understand that the heel command applies no matter how far you are walking.
Step 9: Practice often
To help your dog learn the heel command quickly, practice it often. Start with short training sessions and gradually increase the length as your dog improves.
Remember to always praise and reward your dog when they are heeling well.
Training your dog to heel while walking takes time and patience, but it's well worth the effort. By following these steps, you can help your dog learn this important skill and enjoy walks together even more.