How to train a dog to heel

One of the basic obedience lessons that a dog owner should train the pet is the heel command. A dog has to learn to obey the heel command as it ensures not only its own safety but the safety of the pet owner as well. Moreover, a dog owner would surely be very proud to have a well trained and well mannered dog walking by his/her side. People keep dogs for protection and a large dog beside an elderly pet owner would intimidate people with criminal intent.

How would you make the dog respond to the heel command? Contrary to what other dog owners think, training the dog to heel would not be a very tedious task. Positive reinforcement will make a dog learn to obey the heel command easily because these are intelligent animals. Dog owners can take advantage of the fact that dogs are food motivated and these affectionate pets have an inherent desire to please their owners. This means that praising the dog and using the pet’s favorite treats as rewards would be more effective in enticing the dog to respond to the heel command rather than yanking the leash or giving the dog harsh reprimands.

The heel command is aimed to teach the dog to walk or to run beside the master. Snap on a leash to the dog’s collar. Let the dog take the heel position either on your left or right side but be sure to use this position throughout the training so as not to confuse the dog. Use one hand to hold the leash and the other hand to hold the treat that will be used to lure the dog.

Allow the dog to smell the treat to get its attention. Continue to hold the treat in front of the dog’s nose and start moving forward. Instead of moving forward, the dog may move across your body to get the treat in your hand. Give the leash a quick tug and say NO in an authoritative voice. Return the dog to the heel position and continue walking. Continue walking and then give the dog the heel command. If the dog behaves and continues to walk beside you, reward the dog with a treat. Short training sessions that are repeated several times every day will train the dog to heel beside you even without being lured by a treat.

Dogs are supposed to walk calmly beside the owner but untrained dogs would pull on the leash so that it would appear as if the dog is walking the owner instead of the other way around. A dog owner can put a stop to this stressful situation by teaching the pet to respond to the heel command.

Sarah’s Dogs provides more information on how to train a dog to heel and dog first aid.

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