Obedience Training – Teaching to Heel

dog heel photo
Photo by CCFC Manitoba/Saskatchewan/Nunavut

Teaching your puppy how to heel is important, especially when there are other dogs around, or people that your dog might want to jump on without invitation. To heel means to walk at the side of, or next to you. When you teach your puppy to heel, he will be keeping your pace. He?ll stop when you do. He?ll walk when you do. This lets your puppy know that you, the pack alpha, are in charge. It?s also an excellent way for the two of you to walk without a leash, when that is possible. This is a difficult thing for puppies to learn, especially since they are so energetic and curious by nature.

Use a long leash for heel training. This will give your puppy more wiggle room for mistakes and give you more chances to correct those errors. Before starting, make sure he has mastered walking with a loose leash, that is, without tugging.

The key to this part of puppy training is of course, with treats. Start by standing with your puppy on a leash and keep a few treats in the hand that isn’t holding the leash. The puppy needs to understand the command, so tell your dog to heel. Once he sits still next to you for about five seconds, give the dog a treat. Then, take five steps forward and allow your do to follow. Say the word “heel” and wait for your puppy to sit down next to you. Reward with a treat. Continue doing this so your puppy understands. The dog will associate your movements and words with the expected behaviors.

Once this is successfully completed in the same location, introduce some other people and distractions. You might feel like you’re starting the process all over again, but that’s only because your puppy will notice those other people or bouncing balls or moving cars. Repeat the process with the treats until your dog is obedient and able to heel on command.