Obedience training

Teach your dog how to heel correctly – Part 2

Heel training

As you begin, position your dog at your left side while keeping the leash short. Leave a belly of reserved slack, with your right hand, look at your dog, say his name, then command “Heel”!

Begin walking, starting with your left foot. Walk briskly in a straight line, with confidence in your movement. Your dog will lose confidence in you if you wander aimlessly.

Remembering his experience on the long-line, your dog may walk alongside you fairly comfortably, but the odds are that since there are now only five to six feet connecting the two of you, he will react in one of the two following ways:

  • He will either rush forward past you in an attempt to keep a tight strain on that leash, or
  • He will hold back and be hesitant to walk with you at all. After all, this six-foot training leash is new to him.

If your dog is one that takes off like a marathon runner in a race, either surging ahead or out to the side in an attempt to keep the leash tight, simply open your right hand, release the slack you’ve been holding in reserve, and immediately do a right-about turn and walk in the opposite direction. When your dog is back in the proper heeling position, give him praise and a pat on the head with your free left hand. If you have a small dog, bend over to his level and give him his pat while continuing to walk.

Each time he surges ahead, release the slack as you do and definite right-about turn. Without slowing your pace, pick up some reserve slack and place it once again in your right hand in preparation for his next heedless charge. Your left hand is free to reach down and give him a pat on a head when, and only when, he is in the proper heeling position. That is, at your left side with his head and neck area about even with your left leg. Each time you place the reserve slack in your right hand, be sure to leave a belly of slack in the leash between you and your dog.

An alternative method for the introvert

If your dog has an introvert personality, one that is reluctant to walk with you, you will need a slightly different method. The introvert dog just doesn’t quite understand what’s going on with this new piece of equipment and he’s as reluctant to get involved as a person being taught how to play a new instrument. This type of dog needs a little encouragement and a show of enthusiasm on your part, and don’t let anyone tell you any differently.

Use your free left hand to pat your leg as you give your dog a little talk of encouragement. Use short, forward snaps on the leash to help inspire your dog to walk with you. Watch closely as he begins to discard his reluctance, praise him enthusiastically and warmly. This shows him three things. First, that you are pleased. Second, that everything is alright. And third, that he has made the right decision.

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