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How to Teach a Dog to Heel

Learn how to teach your dog to heel.

Would you like to teach your dog how to walk nicely beside you, stopping and moving when you do? This is a desirable behavior to teach and can help with getting your dog to walk nicely on a leash without pulling.

Follow these steps to teach your dog to heel.

Use Clicker Training for Heel

Clicker training can speed up your dog's learning of commands, including heel. You use a clicker to mark when your dog is doing the right thing and then give a treat or praise. Your dog learns that the click means something positive, and you can click faster than you can deliver a treat, so it helps the dog understand exactly what he's doing right.

Learn more: "Clicker Training for Dogs: An Overview."

You can get a clicker here: Training Clicker.

Tips for Training Sessions

To get the most out of your heel training sessions, start with a dog that is a tiny bit tired. You can do that by engaging in a rousing play session before beginning to train.

Additionally, it can help if your dog is a tiny bit hungry, so don't train right after a meal. That way, he'll be extra motivated to earn the training treats.

Always stay positive during training sessions. Never yell at or otherwise punish your dog. Dogs learn much better and more quickly when they are praised for doing the right thing rather than punished for doing the wrong thing. Your job is to figure out how to get your dog on the right track so you can reward him.

Steps for Teaching Heel

Here are the steps to follow when teaching your dog to heel:

  • Get some tasty treats and your clicker
  • Go into a small room or hallway
  • Call your dog's name and point to the spot near you where you wish him to walk when heeling
  • Hold a treat near your chest to discourage him from jumping toward your hand
  • When he arrives at the directed spot, click and then give a treat
  • Repeat this until your dog is doing it reliably
  • Next, stop pointing at the spot and instead say "heel" or "walk nice"
  • Click and reward when your dog gets to the spot he should be
  • Continue to practice this, adding in movement, so your dog must walk to stay in his spot

You will need to continue practicing this routinely, adding in distractions. Eventually, your dog should heel on command until you release him with an "OK."

You May Also Like These Articles:

Clicker Training for Dogs: An Overview

How to Train Your Dog to Walk Nicely on a Leash

Retractable Dog Leashes: Know the Risks

6 Bad Behaviors in Dogs That We Help Create

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