Teach Your Dog to Heel
When it comes to walking your dog, you probably want them to walk beside you at a continuous pace instead of them trying to dart in every direction with every distraction they come across. Dogs can be known to try to run at a faster pace than you are walking or to linger behind sniffing the grass another dog peed on.
This is where teaching your dog to “heel” comes into play. Teaching them to heel will teach them to walk with you and not be the one walking you. This command is not one of the easiest for them to learn and may come with a little more training than your basic commands.
Step 1: Start in a Common Area
You may not want to start this training on a usual walk around the block. It is best to start this lesson in your home or around your yard.
If you try to venture out in the beginning stages of training, they are less likely to listen and will want to adventure around and check out the new surroundings.
Step 2: Have Plenty of Treats on Hand
It is a guarantee that your pup will get sidetracked multiple times during your training session. Be sure to prepare with plenty of treats to get their attention and to give them praise when they walk with you as you have instructed.
Having an incentive such as treats can help you keep their attention or to regain their attention when something piques their interest.
Step 3: Point and Command
Next, you will want to call your dog and point to the ground beside you to show them where you want them to stand. As soon as your dog does as they are told, give them a treat and any other form of praise that you use in training.
Do this step a few times until you notice your dog catching on.
Step 4: Increase Your Speed
Once you feel comfortable with step 3, you should start gradually increasing your speed. You may have to incorporate the previous step into this one. As you are walking faster, anytime that your pooch starts to deter away from you or lag behind you, call for them and direct them back to your side.
Praise them each time that they do as you say. If you notice that they aren’t listening as well with the faster pace, you will need to slow down or revert back to the previous steps.
Though the skill of heeling is more complex, it can still be done. As usual, be sure to have patience and give your dog a break in between sessions. The longer you practice in one session, the less likely they are to listen, which can cause frustration.
Starting slow and gradually working your way up to running and turning corners is the best way to approach this lesson, especially if you are teaching a puppy.
Keep the learning light and fun, and enjoy the bonding time you will get during that time!