Teach Your Dog to Heel in 7 Easy Steps
Walking is a beneficial exercise for both you and your dog. Unfortunately, many dogs do not learn how to follow or heel while out for a walk. Your responsibility as a pet owner is to teach them this essential skill.
The "heel" command adds control to the walk. It establishes your leadership while also providing mental stimulation for your pet. Walking at heel is more rigid than a loose leash walk and can be tiring. But a tired dog also means a more relaxed dog after.
What Does the "Heel" Mean?
When dogs are "at heel," they walk side by side with their handler, neither pulling ahead nor lagging. While trainers typically train dogs to walk on the left or right side, you can teach your pet to heel on both sides if you wish.
A dog in heel position has his head and neck in line with and near the person's leg they are working with. There will be little room between them.
What You'll Need to Teach the Heel Command Properly
- Distraction-Free Environment
- High-Value Treats
- Time (10-30 minutes daily)
- A Reliable E-Collar
How to Teach a Dog to Heel in 7 Steps
Tip: There are numerous ways to teach a dog to heel. But one of the best dog training methods combines clicker training and the "lure and reward" method. A leash, a dog e-collar or harness, a clicker, and a few dog treats are all you'll need.
Step #1: Choose a training location.
Leash up your dog and take them to a familiar place where no other animals or humans are around to cause distractions. Both your patio and an interior hallway in your home are excellent choices.
Step #2: Set your dog, clicker, and treats in place.
Place your dog on your left side as you stand. So that your dog can readily reach the treats, hold your clicker in your right hand while grabbing a few treats in your left.
Step #3: Say "Sit" to start.
Click and give your dog a treat to acknowledge and encourage good behavior after they sit next to you. Check that they are calm and focused before moving on to the next phase. Before moving on to heeling, your dog must have mastered the sit command because it is one of the trickier dog training exercises.
Step #4: Say the heel command and lure forward with a treat.
Your dog will heel when you hold out a treat in front of his nose. Instruct him to do so, and then gently advance. Your dog should follow you using the goodie as a guide. Give your dog a click, a treat, and verbal praise for every few steps it takes in a stride with you.
Remember that you want your pet to stay as close to you as possible. Avoid extending your arm outward. Instead, keep your left hand with the treat close to your body.
Step #5: Stop and start over if your dog fails to follow.
Continue performing step 4 for 10 minutes at a time. Do several training sessions each day. If your dog ever becomes distracted or wanders off, stop moving. Call their name until they return to you. Then give the sit order once more. Give the heel order once your dog is in the proper position, then start the process over.
Step #6: Taper off using treats.
Practice using the same technique for at least a week. You want your dog to start heeling reliably. After a week, make a minor adjustment. Keep the rewards in your pocket so that your left hand is free.
Give your dog a click and a goodie from your pocket when they can consistently follow the heel command and walks stride-by-step next to you. Gradually increase the time between treats.
Step #7: Master the heel command.
After another week or two of training, increase the length of your walks. You may also consider taking your dog to a dog park or other areas with additional distractions.
As your dog improves, reward with treats only occasionally. Instead, focus more on vocal encouragement and praise. Even without a leash, you can teach your dog to heel, but for off-leash training, make sure the location is secure and contained.
3 Quick and Easy Steps to "Heel" Training with an E-Collar
Can you use an e-collar to teach your dog to heel? Absolutely. With the help of an e collar, you may command your dog's attention free of the need for a leash. It has various applications and is quite helpful.
However, before using a dog training e-collar, make sure your dog already understands basic commands like “sit.” You want your dog to understand what a command is and what is required of them. Introducing an ecollar to a dog that does not understand what dog training is will only leave them confused or even scared.
Familiarize your dog with the e-collar.
Do not use e-collar stimulation without first getting your dog familiar with the collar. Show your dog the remote training collar and let them wear it for a few minutes at a time. It would help to put the collar on before play time or walks so your pet can associate the ecollar with something fun. Gradually extend the wear time until your dog becomes comfortable.
Please note that you should not let your dog wear a dog shock collar for more than 8 hours daily. You must also rotate the e-collar every hour or two to ensure the contact points do not cause skin irritation.
Find the working stimulation level.
Are you thinking of getting an e-collar for dog training? Here are some of the best shock collars for dog training.
Dogtra shock collars are very durable and reliable. One of their most popular models is the 1900S. This Dogtra dog collar has 127 levels of adjustable static stimulation. It also comes with a high-performance non-stimulating pager that issues a vibration instead of static. The 1900S is recommended for medium and large dogs with normal and stubborn temperaments.
The Mini Educator is one of the more recognizable e-collars today. This Educator collar comes in yellow, black, or the Educator Zen 300 variant. With static stimulation, vibration, and tone, it’s one of the best shock collars for small dogs.
SportDog initially designed dog hunting collars. However, SportDog collars are also excellent for basic obedience training. The 575E SportTrainer (the orange variant of the 575) has 10 levels of static stimulation in the low and medium ranges. It also comes with tone and vibration options and an easily readable OLED panel. The collar has a 500-yard range, and using the remote is quick and straightforward. It is waterproof and submersible up to 25 feet, thanks to DryTek technology, making it ideal for outdoor activities with your dog.
The Dogtra CUE remote trainer is the latest addition to the Dogtra e-collar lineup. Currently only available through Amazon, this 400-yard collar has a 400-yard range, 24 levels of static stimulation, vibration, and a carabiner-design remote transmitter. The receiver is convertible for a vertical or horizontal fit, making it flexible for any dog size.
One of the most crucial responsibilities for every dog owner is teaching their dog to heel. But once you get going and have a strategy, it's not as difficult as you may imagine. A clear understanding of what is expected of them and using numerous high-value treats at first can help your dog learn faster. Master each training phase before moving on to the next, and reward both you and your dog for improvement!