4 Steps For How To Train A Dog To Heel On A Leash

Do you know what it means for a dog to walk on heel? It means that the dog walks right on the side of the person walking him/her. There are at least a couple benefits to having a dog walk on heel with his/her owner. The first is that walking on heel will help to exercise a dog better during walks, both physically and mentally. Secondly, heeling gives you more control of your dog during a walk.

That is especially helpful if you have a limited amount of time allocated to walking your dog or you just don’t feel like waiting around for your dog to finish sniffing or exploring the surroundings. So, it certainly helps for you to know how to train a dog to heel on a leash and I will walk you through the process to do that.

(Photo courtesy of Pleple2000 via Wikimedia)

1. Get A Leash And Harness For Your Dog

You are going to want to make sure that you have a leash and a harness to use for walking your dog. So, if you don’t already have them at home, no problem, I can point you in the right direction. As far as the leash is concerned, you will want to get the one that is the most comfortable for your hands as you will be holding on to it during your walks with the dog.

You will also want a leash that is no more than six feet long. The BAAPET dog leash fits the bill here. As for the harness, you will want a no pull one with a front clip as that will help to protect your dog from neck injury. With that in mind, I recommend the BARKBAY No Pull Dog Harness Front Clip. Together, these two items will help you to have better control over your dog on walks as to reduce the chances of the dog pulling on the leash and/or straying away from you.

2. Get Yummy Treats For Your Dog

You are then going to want to make sure that you start this heeling training armed with yummy treats for motivating your dog. I definitely recommend that you get the Canine Carry Outs Dog Treats as they are intended to be used while you are training your dog. These treats are quite soft which dogs are known to love.

They also come in different flavors such as chicken, beef and cheese, and hot dog. If you can, I would suggest that you get two flavors of the treats so that you can see which one your dog likes better.

3. Start The Heeling Training Small

(Photo courtesy of Lambakoer via Wikimedia)

In order to have the best results with training your dog to heel, you will want to start out small. You will also want to do this inside your home first as this tends to benefit from having little to no distractions. Get started by attaching your dog to the leash. Once that is done, the next thing is for you to have your dog sit down. If your dog is already trained to sit down, all you need to do is to give him/her the sit command in order to get him/her to do so.

With your dog seated, hold a treat right in front of his/her nose, but be careful that you don’t accidentally let him/her catch it with the mouth. You want the treat to help guide your dog forward. With the treat in front of your dog, say the word “heel” and start to walk a few steps forward. If your dog follows you closely at your side, go ahead and reward him/her with a treat.

Continue to repeat this at least a few more times. If your dog succeeds every time that you practice the heeling with him/her, you can slowly increase the number of steps that you take with your dog at your side. Once your dog starts to get the hang of heeling inside of your home, it is time to move outside to your yard in order to level up the amount of distractions to challenge your dog.

Once in the yard, start out small with only a few steps at first. Have your dog sit down and then put the treat in front of him/her. Give your dog the heel command and then immediately start walking forward just a few steps with the treat serving as the guiding light for the dog. If your dog obeys you, be sure to reward him/her with a treat. Continue to practice this some more and then you can start to gradually increase the number of steps walked.

4. Take The Heeling Training To The Sidewalks

As soon as you are certain that you can get your dog to heel at home with minimal problems, you should be ready to move onto the sidewalks of your neighborhood filled with distractions. Even though you could attempt a full length walk with your dog on leash in the neighborhood right away, it is better to be safe than sorry. So, let’s start out by only making it as far as the house located right next to yours.

Have your dog in a sitting position and remind him/her of the treat. Immediately start walking right after giving your dog the heel command. Keep your dog’s eyes fixed on the treat as you walk forward. If your dog manages to make it to the next house by staying on your side, be sure to reward him/her with the treat. If your dog continue to heel a few more times in a row, you can start walking to an additional house on your sidewalk using the same process that you did.

There it is. That is the walk through of how to train a dog to heel on a leash. As time passes by and your dog becomes better at heeling, you can start to gradually decrease the frequency of treats that you reward him/her. If you take your time with training your dog to heel, you should be able to get him/her to do so with just the heel command.

And also, as you are walking your dog on leash, be sure to watch out for signs that your dog may be about to stray from you or pull on leash. If your dog seems to be fixated on something instead of looking forward or if you notice his/her muscles bunch, these are warning signs.

As soon as you sense that your dog is about to fall out of his/her heel position, use the heel command and then immediately turn around and go in the opposite direction. Also, you may want to consider varying up your dog walks in the neighborhood by making a turn for a different direction every once in a bit or changing the walking speed.

What are your thoughts? Does your dog stay on your side while you are walking him/her? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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