Walking your dog on a sunny day is lovely, but walking your dog that is constantly pulling the leash and scampering off to explore the world is a challenging experience. Training your dog to heel is an excellent way to develop its leash etiquette and make your walks with your canine friend more enjoyable.
What Exactly Is Heeling?
When a dog heeled, it walked in a controlled stride directly next to its handler without wandering or pulling on the leash. Heeling is traditionally described as a dog exactly matching its handler’s speed and movements. Still, the word “heel” is now often interchanged with “loose leash walking,” a less stringent ability in which the dog is only expected not to lag or pull on its leash when walking.
What Are the Advantages of Teaching Your Dog to Heel?
Anyone who wants to have more influence over their dog’s behaviour should learn how to heel. When you teach your dog to heel, he will not pull you forward or trail you too far behind on walks. Heeling also makes dogs walking safer; dogs that know how to heel are less likely to chase other pets/animals, run into the road, or consume dangerous materials harmful to dogs. Heeling also helps you and your dog form a stronger bond, allowing your dog to concentrate on you while also strengthening your overall communication skills.
The Best Ways to Teach Your Dog to Heel
There are a few techniques for teaching a dog to heel, but one of the most common is to combine clicker training with the “lure and reward” strategy. A leash, a dog collar or belt, a clicker, and a couple of dog treats are all you’ll need.
1. Decide on a training site. Attach your dog’s leash and lead it to a familiar, distraction-free location where no other people or animals are present. Both your backyard and a hallway inside your home are excellent choices.
2. Place your dog, clicker, and treats in the appropriate spots. Place yourself so that your dog is on your left side always. Hold your dog training clicker in your right hand and a handful of treats in your hands, so your dog can quickly reach the treats.
3. Give the order to sit. Reward your dog’s good behaviour with a click and a treat until it sits next to you. Ensure your dog’s focus is on you and that it is calm before going on to the next move. Since heeling is one of the more challenging dog-training skills, it’s essential that your dog first learn the sit order.
4. Give the heel command and use a reward to entice the dog forward. Hold a treat in front of your furry friend’s nose while saying “heel” and taking a slow step forward. The reward should serve as a marker for your dog to follow you. Reward your dog with a click, a treat, and a verbal compliment for every couple of steps it takes in stride with you. Hold your left hand with the treat near the side of your body rather than stretching your arm outward, as you want your dog to stay as close to you as possible.
5. Correct any inappropriate conduct. Continue to practise the above exercise for 10 minutes at a time, a few times per day. Stop walking, call your dog’s name before it returns to you, and then send the sit command again if your dog wanders away or loses concentration. Offer the heel command now that your dog is in the proper place and repeat the procedure.
6. Use treats to help him taper off. Continue using the same approach after your dog has had at least a week of practice and is reliably heeling, keep the treats in your pocket so that your left hand is empty. Reward your puppy with a click and a treat from your pocket when it obeys the heel command and runs in stride next to you. Slowly/gradually increase the amount of time you wait before giving your dog a treat; start with every two measures, then every five, and finally every ten.
7. Get a handle on the heel order. It’s time to introduce your dog to more demanding conditions after another week or two of good training. Increase your walks’ duration and introduce your dog to a more distracting setting, such as a dog park. Treats should be used sparingly while your dog’s heeling skills improve, and you should instead focus on verbal reinforcement and praise. You can even teach your canine companion to heel off-leash, make sure you’re in a confined, secure environment.
The heel position is typically taught on the handler’s left side, but the right side is also appropriate. It is only customary to train dogs to heel on the left side since the heel order originated in the military, where soldiers hold rifles in their right hands, and their dogs walk on the left side.