Beginning Basic Obedience Heel
· Teaching your dog to heel is so that you can take your dog for a walk without it becoming an on leash tug of war.
· You have more control over a dog that knows how to heel properly and therefore can avoid certain hazards while taking him for a walk (i.e. your dog running into the street, hogging the sidewalk, getting into fights with other dogs that are out and about, etc.)
Stage One - Introduction to command.
· Beginning Position - Begin by having your dog sit at your left side. Hold the leash in the right hand.
· Where to Hold the Food - Hold the food in your left hand right in front of your dog. This will encourage him to follow the food as you walk. (It’s kind of like the tangling carrot idea.)
· Making Eye Contact - Make sure your have your dog’s attention before you give the command.
· Tone of Voice - Your tone of voice should be firm. Women may need to lower their voice for this command. The command should be sharp and quick.
· Timing of Command - Give the command as you begin to move forward and anytime you change direction or pace. (During this introductory stage you will want to repeat the command a few times while you are walking.)
· You should take a few steps before you praise and reward your dog (Fido is sitting at your left side, he looks at you and you say “HEEL!” while at the same time you begin to walk forward. You take about 5 steps and as long as Fido is behaving properly you say “Good Boy! while you give him the food and continue to walk. Repeat the command while walking, after a few steps reward and praise.)
· Tips - It is important to keep a lively pace during this introductory stage. This will help to keep your dog’s attention and imprint that heeling is fun.
· What Not To Do - Do not force your dog to stay even with your leg at this point in time, that will come with practice. The introductory stage is to get your dog used to walking with you somewhere along your left side. You will have better control over where he is walking by using the food to steer him into staying in the correct position, but do not include corrections in this stage.
· End of Introductory Stage - Your dog understands that HEEL means to walk along your left side. It is no longer necessary to repeat the command while you are walking unless you change your pace or direction. You should still be praising and rewarding your dog every so often while you are walking though.
Stage Two - Fine tuning the command.
· So after many, many training sessions you’ve got your dog heeling along your left side and pretty much in the proper position. Now begin to enforce proper position and work more complex heeling patterns into your routine.
· Complex heeling patterns should include right and left turns as well as turn arounds and change of pace.
· Work in some S turns and hairpin turns as well. The key is to keep your dog interested in heeling.
· Have your dog heel off leash inside the house as a change of routine.
· Have your dog HEEL to and from the car when you take him places.
· When it looks as if your dog is not enthused with his walk anymore, throw a couple of quick turns or turn arounds in and just watch his change in attitude. (Remember to always give the command whenever you stop then start walking, change direction or pace.)
· Even once your dog is heeling beautifully, remember to reward and praise him occasionally.