How To Teach a Dog to Heel

The purpose of teaching a dog to heel is to keep him by your side or slightly behind you so that he walks at your pace. Heeling can mean the difference between a leisurely walk around the block and being dragged down the sidewalk. As an obedience command, heeling is also useful on crowded streets and crosswalks where you want to keep your dog close by and out of trouble.


Before you can make your dog heel, he should be willing to follow you around the house without a leash and be able to perform a sit-stay for at least 30 seconds. This ensures that he’s ready to obey your commands and that he actually wants to stay close to you, both of which are essential to heeling.

Traditionally the dog heels on the left side of the handler and dogs are required to be on the left for competitive obedience trials. But you can teach your dog to heel on whichever side you’re most comfortable with. Just make sure you pick a side and stick with it. You don’t want your dog to switch sides during a walk. He could tangle you in his leash or you could accidentally step on him if he crosses in front of you.

Getting your dog to understand the basic heel command is pretty simple. To start have him sit at your side with some slack in the leash.

Give the command “Spot, Heel” and start walking

Give the command to heel and walk forward immediately starting with the foot closest to your dog. Don’t wait for him to follow. If he doesn’t move, gently snap the leash to get his attention, making sure to release any tension afterward, and repeat the training command. As your dog moves with you, give him praise. The key is to have the intent to keep moving forward. Your dog will follow.

How to stop leashing pulling

If your dog pulls out in front of you while you’re walking, don’t speed up to catch him or pull him back to you. Simply change directions 180 degrees and give the heel command again. Constantly change directions when your dog tries to take the lead or falls behind. For instance, if he attempts to turn in front of you, turn left into him and move the leash to the left over his head to guide him in the right direction. If he turns left, you should go right and head the other way.

Walk at different speeds in different directions and praise your dog occasionally while you practice the heel command. The quick changes in direction and verbal encouragement will teach your dog to focus on you and stop pulling the leash during your walks.


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