In simple words, heeling means that you train your dog to walk as you walk and only stopping when you do. This will make your daily walks with your dog fun, as you won’t have to keep a leash around your dog all the time. This can also serve as a fun method for your dog to exercise. Let’s say your dog loves going on walks, but you can’t seem to control them when they are outside. Teaching heeling can help in making your walks more fun. This will also help in building your trust.
Here are some simple ways and tricks you can use to teach your dog to heel:
Choosing a heel position
You can start by choosing one of the sides that you want your dog to heel in. Their heeling position should align them right next to you. Choose the side that you are comfortable having your dog at. Once you have chosen the side, then comes the next step of teaching them how to heel.
Teaching them how to heel
Move one step, lure the dog to a treat, and then move another step. Your dog will follow. Reward them again. Move backward and then reward them. Try changing your directions, moving in a square. In case the dog stops, move back to the starting point and start again. The chances are that your dog will follow. Reward them, and repeat this multiple times. This can take a week or two. Be patient, this can be very tricky for your dog to learn. Many experts suggest that using a martingale collar will help you control their movements.
Try again, without a treat
Once your dog learns the basics of heeling, try again without luring them for a treat. Guide your dog to follow your steps, moving both forward and backward. Once they follow your movement and are standing aligned right next to you, reward them! You can also use your words instead of treats to encourage them.
Practice in your backyard
If you are confident that your dog has become comfortable in following your movements it is time to move to the next step. Practice in an open area like your backyard, without any distractions. Once the dog becomes comfortable moving around in an open area without distractions it is time to practice in a more crowded area.
Once your dog has mastered the basics of heeling, try adding obstacles in their way. After the tenth step add an object in their way to see how they’ll react. Teach them how to pass an obstacle and reward them with a treat. Once your dog learns to walk through the obstacles, move to the park. This time you will be adding distractions to the steps. Make sure the park is not too crowded, better safe than sorry! Once your dog learns the basics, you can try training them with a loose leash.
How long can teach a dog to heel take?
While some dogs are quick learners, others will take their time. German shepherds, Labradors are among the breeds that learn quickly. Some of the slow learners can be Huskies, Beagles, etc., because they tend to get distracted more easily. Each dog has different capabilities so hang in there and be patient.
Are puppies quick learners?
Teaching a puppy is almost the same as teaching a grownup dog. However, the earlier you start teaching the better! Puppies will need more breaks than a dog, so it will require more patience.
Tricks you should know
Let’s be honest, teaching a dog to heel can be very tricky and challenging. Here are a few tricks that can help you achieve better results. Keep your movements slow, let your dog take its time. Reward them more often, and pay attention to your dog’s body language. Give them more breaks, as longer trainings will get boring for them. Try to keep the training as short as possible. After some time, use your words instead of treats to motivate them to follow you.
Hire a trainer
If you don’t feel comfortable teaching your dog heeling yourself, you can hire a trainer. The professionals know how to teach your dog heeling while keeping in mind their safety. Some people are impatient and would like to see results quickly. Teaching a dog heeling can be a very complex process that will require a lot of patience. A trainer will be able to do this task more patiently and easily.
Positive reinforcement as compared to negative reinforcement can result in better and quick results. Punishments can stress your dog and are not recommended by experts. By teaching you dog heeling, walks will become more fun and will feel less like a chore. Patience is the key to success. The process can be painstakingly long and slow, but it is definitely worth the results. If you feel like you are not as patient, you can hire a professional trainer who will do the job just fine. You can also make use of online classes, to learn how to teach your dog heeling easily.