How to teach a dog to heel?

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how to teach your dog to heel

Are you tired of carrying a leash every time you take your dog for a walk? Or do you want to spend quality time doing something productive with your dog? Time to train your pet to catch up the pace with you! Don’t know where to start? We have the perfect guide for you. Read right ahead and learn the tips and tricks of teaching your dog how to heel.

What does it mean to heel your dog?

Teaching your pup to walk beside you instead of in front of or behind you is the art of healing. Dogs, by nature, are conditioned to understand the significance of pack hierarchy and understand the importance of honor, trust, and friendship. It also gives rise to a sense of obedience and loyalty. Therefore, teaching them this skill is quite easy in terms of training and strengthens the relationship deeply between the owner and the pet. Remember; being consistent and persistent will train your energetic pup or lazy dog in no time!

Why should you train your dog to heel?

Dogs aren’t known to be a man’s best friend for no reason. It’s only fitting if your relationship with your dog is similar to that of a friend instead of being the dominant one. So wouldn’t it be more convenient if your loved one is walking with you as opposed to tugging on the leash and collar? This also gives you a very close control on your dog; communication is easier, quicker, and reward can be given instantly. Apart from that, teaching this skill is a fun, healthy, and enjoyable way of spending quality time with your puppy. 

Method of Train Your Dog to Heel

Clicker for heel training

Experts pledge the effectivity of clicker training as this practice has been going on for decades. Start with an area which your pup is familiar with – the backyard, living room, or basement. The concept is to click for action and reward for a position. So all you have to do is call out your dog’s name when walking and point to the side you want it to be on. Use the clicker when it acts accordingly and treats it with a reward. This conditioning is the quickest and easiest way of teach a dog to heel

Choosing the right treats when teaching how to heel

Now that it’s time to begin the training, make sure you have a pack full of your dog’s favorite snacks because that is going to be the key element throughout this activity. The objective is positive reinforcement; make your pet do the task and then reward it. It’s as easy as it sounds because your dog will respond to the ‘click’ and do as you command. Remember, you don’t have to be harsh. Just let it pick the pace slowly, and it’ll maintain its position accordingly. A handful of treats would be sufficient for a trial daily.

Which side to walk on during heel training?

Traditionally, for heel training, your little buddy has to walk along with you on your left side. But don’t get fessed up if it doesn’t work on the first try. Your dog is accustomed to receiving love and affection, so maintain that bond and your dog will be right on track for sure. You can start off by pulling your dog to the left with a short leash, which is great for heel training, and soon your pet will position itself on your command. Keep regular use of a clicker so that its focus is on you completely.            

A step ahead in training your dog to heel

Now that you’ve practiced frequently, you can step up the game with a change in the routine. Try a zigzag movement and pace fluctuations to make your pet find the correct position. Next up: lessen the number of treats. In fact, try walking with your empty left hand hanging down. A treat or two after every 5 steps is sufficient for this activity. Soon, your dog will be able to heel without any treats. Pretty convenient, right? Also, try going to a park or the beach, so your dog gets some distraction. Make sure the heel training task is challenging yet safe for your dog.

Handling the behavior of your pet

While you are constantly working on teaching, don’t forget that heel training is new for your dog. It is quite likely that your beloved pet will break out of the heel in the first few attempts. But keep an eye out for your dog’s body language, e.g., if it’s distracted easily, repeat the heel command. In this manner, your pet will quickly learn that it is important to pay attention to your actions and words. Therefore, this training will require your patience and consistency to excel in the task.

Few handy tips to keep in mind

Now that you’ve gone through the main steps, it’s time for the nit bits. To prevent your dog from gaping at the snacks frequently, keep your left hand to your chest. This way, your dog will not jump towards your hanging hand and focus on its task. Moreover, keep the treats in your left hand, so it doesn’t cross the path. Don’t forget to tell your dog on its correct moves. A clicker or even verbal affirmation would do the trick.

Heel training, on its own, is a very challenging task, but as we all know, in the end, it’s all about your effort and dedication into shaping your dog’s skills. From using the clicker, commanding effectively and treating it to snacks, you and your beloved dog have to master each stage before moving on to the next step. This way, your pet will know exactly what is expected of him, and heel training for your dog will be successful. Don’t fret upon if it doesn’t work in the first place. Keep trying, and the outcome will indeed be favorable.

Here’s one a good video that might also help you to teach your dog to heel:

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