Teaching Your pet dog to Heel – 13 ideas

how to show a pet dog to heel

My pet dog Remy and I are continuing to work on heeling.

Whether you are just starting to show your pet dog the heel command or if you’ve been working with her for a long time and getting nowhere, below are some ideas for teaching your pet dog to walk on a loose leash.

If you have other ideas, share them. a lot of of our dogs could use help with heeling, including my pup Remy!

Teaching your pet dog to heel

1. remember the walk starts at the door.

As soon as you touch the leash or put on a coat, your pet dog might become excited. If she is out of control before you even put the leash on, make her sit or lie down until she is calm.

Obviously you want to have highly valued treats in your pockets or in a treat pouch. find something your pet dog is motivated to work for. A treat pouch really does help!

The same is true with walking through the door and down the stairs. Every piece makes up the walk.

This might indicate you have to put your dog’s leash on a half-hour before you intend on walking so by the time you are ready to go, she is calm. A calm pet dog can pay attention and learn. A frantic pet dog can’t.

2. Make your pet dog sit whenever she lunges forward.

This technique works better than people realize. The problem is, a lot of of us don’t have the patience to stop every five seconds during an entire half-hour walk.

The day I brought my pet dog Ace home, he wanted to barge out of his kennel, barge through the door and barge down the stairs. Instead, I stopped and had him sit whenever he pulled. June 2018 update: Ace has passed away.

It took us 10 minutes to get from his kennel to the front door and at least 10 or 12 attempts to get through the door. I remember people staring at me like I was crazy.

I had steps outside and had to go through the whole routine again at the top of the stairs. but after that first day, Ace had already learned that in buy to get anywhere he could not pull.

This technique goes a lot faster if you use highly valued treats like bacon, jerky treats, real hamburger, etc. Again, a treat pouch helps you carry all this.

3. Be consistent when teaching a pet dog to heel.

If you allow your pet dog to pull sometimes, she will try to get away with pulling all the time. If you make her heel but your husband doesn’t, she will learn heeling is optional.

4. get a pet dog backpack to help with teaching heel.

Ace heels much, much better with a pet dog backpack on because it gives him a job to do.

It really puts him in a focused mode, and he is less concerned with pulling. Plus, I’m in favor of anything that tires the mutt out! another way to give him a job is to let him carry something in his mouth like a stick or water bottle. He will carry anything I hand him, and that becomes his job instead of pulling.


5. stay kicked back when teaching your pet dog to heel.

If you are angry and gripping the leash like there’s a bear on the other end (OK, for some of you, there pretty much is!) or anticipating bad behavior from your dog, it gives her a lot more reasons to be anxious, too. Dogs pick up on our energy a lot more than we realize.

The best thing you can do for an overly ecstatic pet dog is to stay calm and in control. I know that’s much easier said than done! focus on standing tall and pleased without being tense.

6. Don’t allow the leash to get tight.

Part of staying kicked back is keeping the leash loose. If you pull back on the leash constantly, your pet dog will resist and pull harder.

Instead, allow slack in the leash and when your pet dog pulls ahead, just stop and lure her back with your highly valued treats. The leash and training collar must be loose and kicked back before you step forward again.

If you give a minor correction, it must be a light tug to get the dog’s attention, not a frustrated yank!

7. focus ahead, not on your dog.

You can sense where your pet dog is without staring down at her the whole time. If you are regularly staring at her, then she is in control.

One trick I use with Ace is to loosely hold the middle of his leash at the seam of my pants. That way when he begins to sneak ahead, I feel the leash tighten without checking out him. It also reminds him to stay in heel position.

8. sign up for an obedience class.

Taking an obedience class will really help if you want to show your pet dog to heel. When I first adopted Ace, I planned on training him on my own. I’d trained other dogs and taken them through formal obedience classes, so I thought I could show Ace myself.

Let’s just say I changed my mind when Ace pulled and was generally out of control whenever we passed another pet dog on a walk.

Once I started taking him to pet dog obedience training, he got used to other dogs so it was no longer an event whenever we passed one on the street.

After taking Ace to that first class, I was hooked and have been taking him to obedience and agility ever since.

9. use treats when teaching your pet dog how to heel!

Use anything to keep your dog’s attention. It might be plain old kibble, jerky treats, bits of hotdogs, cheese or a tennis ball.

It doesn’t really matter as long as you can get your pet dog to look at you and reward her when she is not pulling. I try to reward Ace when I catch him making eye contact.

10. walk at different speeds and directions.

Walking at different speeds and directions will require your pet dog to pay attention to you. If Ace sneaks ahead, I slow down or even stop and he backs ideal up. I’ve even unintentionally trained him to back up when I say “Get back.”

Teach your pet dog that you are unpredictable and don’t always go in a straight line or at the same pace. You are deciding where to walk, not your dog!

Do a U-turn, walk in a circle, etc. If you are able, run with your pet dog for the first 15 minutes. It will be much easier for her to stay at your side if you are going at a faster pace.

Plus it will get rid of some pent-up energy and make it much easier for her to focus when you slow down to a walk.

11. practice random obedience during the walk.

Randomly telling your pet dog to sit, lie down, stay or come while you are walking will show her to pay attention to you. It will also help to keep her in that working mode.

Try taking a step back and calling your pet dog to you if she sneaks ahead or pulls. I own a pet dog walking business, and one of the best ways to tire out a pet dog is to choose a walk and work on training.

12. limit distractions at first.

Don’t expect too much from your dog. Be individual and take training in small steps. work indoors first, then in your driveway or a parking lot with few challenges.

For when you need to exercise your pet dog and you know he’s going to pull (I know, that’s how it is in the real world), try using a different tool for training vs. non-training.

For example, a regular buckle collar, slip collar or martingale collar during training and a no-pull harness or gentle Leader when you just need to get a good walk in.

13. Use the ideal training collar.

The “right” training collar or harness will be different for every dog. If you take recommendations from someone on the best tool, take the recommendations into consideration but realize all dogs are different.

I recommend you try a martingale collar first, also called a limited slip collar. This is because a martingale collar tightens slightly under pressure but not so far where it can choke your dog.

I don’t see anything wrong with gentle Leaders or Haltis, and I also recommend prong collars for some dogs. If it indicates you can walk your pet dog in peace, the ideal tool is worth it!

The goal is to use these collars as a tool to encourage loose-leash walking. then you can eventually return to a slip collar and hopefully a regular collar.

Other people will depend on a Halti head collar or gentle Leader all the time and that’s ok too. It’s up to each owner and depends a lot on the dog.

Pretty soon you’ll be teaching your pet dog to heel off leash!

Related articles:

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No-pull harness vs. prong collar

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