How to Teach a Dog to Heel in 11 Easy Steps (For Beginners)

How to Teach a Dog to Heel

“So you’ve just gotten a new dog, and now he’s pulling on the leash like crazy, breaking free from your grip to go sniff that tree over there, and running around in circles? It can be frustrating when trying to get somewhere. But don’t worry! There are some easy ways for teaching your pup how to heel.” So let’s look into How to Teach a Dog to Heel.

“The first thing you’ll want to do is teach him what ‘heel’ means. This will probably mean picking up his favorite toy or treat and then walking next to you without pulling or getting distracted. You may have to hold onto his collar as well so he knows it’s okay not move forward while still staying by your side.”

“Once he understands this step, try doing it again without holding onto him. Every time he starts to stray too far from you, say ‘heel’ and give a gentle tug on his collar. Treats or toys are also effective at coaxing your dog into position.” “Once your dog knows what ‘heel’ means, the next step is teaching how to walk by your side.”

“We’ve all been there. We’re out on a walk with our dog, and they insist on pulling the leash, running around, or just being generally disobedient. Dog ownership is an incredible responsibility, and it is not always easy to train your pup to heel.” 

“If you are one of those people who have had issues training their furry friend how to follow commands, then this post will give you 10 steps for teaching them how to heel in no time!” 

We recently published a review of the best food for blue heelers that you might also like.

How to Teach a Dog to Heel (10 STeps)

  1. If your dog doesn’t like food, use a toy. Then, teach your dog to follow the food or toy if it is in your hand.
  2. Show the food to your dog, then put it in one hand. Then teach him to go with that hand. He must follow the food.
  3. Encourage her to follow the food, which now acts as a lure.
  4. Take ten steps and stop. You may need to ask your dog to start again and practice for another few steps. If you want her to sit at this time, either give the cue word or move into her body while saying, ‘stop.’
  5. Repeat this exercise a few times, taking the same number of steps each time. Then gradually increase your steps by one at a time.
  6. The goal is to have your dog walk next to you on the walks or a leash.
  7. Utilizing this technique, say your dog’s name followed by the cue ‘heel’ and guide her with gentle tapping or pulling on a leash. Repeat until a response is positive.
  8. When you have been able to comply, use food intermittently while still giving praise. When your dog walks ahead of you, go in reverse and repeat the cue and tap her on the leg. Reward warmly.
  9. Repeat – turning left and right, or doing a figure eight, with the words “heel” as you turn. The word for sitting should now be automatic.
  10. Making sure your dog has mastered heeling indoors before trying it out on the street is necessary because there are many distractions outside, which can make her lose focus.
  11. Do not always ask your dog to heel on a walk, but periodically reinforce them for practice.

How to Keep the Heeling Process Simple?

Do not expect them to respond immediately because they are distracted. There is no need to ask for healing all the time.

Practice teaching your dog how to walk on a leash, and you will find each session gets easier than the last! 

Often, dogs do not know what “heel” means, so they cannot follow it when you ask them to. When you walk with your dog, be sure your body language shows that he is being corrected and continually correct him for not walking as close to you as possible. You will need to give the leash a tug or some correction on his collar when he gets ahead of you.

This should get him closer to you so that you don’t have to keep correcting him or tugging the leash.

When you start your first session, you can use treats, and when he gets the idea that walking next to you will earn a reward, then dole out the rewards less often for better results in training. You can begin fading away from using food by saying “heel” when he is close.

Use it only when he begins to stray too far ahead of you. The keyword here is intermittent because if it is used all the time, your dog will learn that staying right behind you isn’t what gets them treats or their favorite toy. 

Teaching a routine after they have been trained is also important as there should be no surprises for your dog, such as starting a walk and then turning and not following.

Dogs like routines, so if you always go the same route in your neighborhood, he’ll be more likely to keep right with you as opposed to wandering off into someone else’s yard or getting lost. 

When teaching dogs how to heel, they must be on the comfortable ground such as grass instead of pavement or gravel. The dog should also be able to see where it’s going while walking and shouldn’t have its tail docked for training purposes either since it needs to be able to wag freely in response to you asking it to sit behind you.

Your dog will learn faster if there are no distractions for him during the training sessions, along with having you standing still at first as he walks towards you. Then start walking and slowly add more steps to the routine until you can take him out for a walk regularly.

This way, your dog will be successful because they know that staying next to you always gets them a reward in some form.

What Age Can You Teach a Dog to Heel?

Probably the most important question you’ll want to know is when do you start teaching your puppy or dog how to heel? The answer depends on the age of your dog. If it’s a very young puppy, then it’s too young to be taught anything yet. Though some dogs can learn early in life, most dogs aren’t ready to learn until they are at least a year old.

Growing dogs need to absorb the knowledge around them, and that takes time, so don’t rush it by teaching too early, especially if you have a puppy since they still have much growing to do mentally and physically. 

If your dog is older than 1 but younger than 18 months, then it’s probably not a good idea to start teaching it at that time, but wait until he’s at least 18 months old.

Though some older dogs can be taught how to heel as well, they are usually easier to teach the basics, and then you can work on adding more commands once your dog gets used to walking with you as opposed to just going along for the walk.

Teaching a Dog How to Heel is Easy and Fun

Once you teach your dog how to heel, you’ll find it is easy and fun to do since they like to please you. With some patience and practice, your days of walking with your dog will be more enjoyable since both of you can get out and enjoy walks together.

Don’t forget to give your dog a treat after each time you practice so that they know the right answer when you ask them to heel or stay close by. This will build up their confidence and make it fun for them to go on walks with you instead of just being bored from sitting around all day.

Why Do I Teach “Heel” Instead of Leave My Side?

The term leave your side can be confusing for a dog since they don’t understand it, so you might as well stick with using the word ‘heel.’ After all, what does that even mean anyway? You still want your dog next to you, whether you are going down the street or around the block. 

Teaching your dog how to heel can be accomplished in 11 easy steps and will only take a few minutes every day until they get used to it.

It’s something that you will both enjoy since most dogs love going for walks once they learn what it is and how to do it properly by your side.

How Do You Train a Dog Not to Pull?

Dogs are naturally packed animals and want to be by their leader’s side at all times. So if you try to convince them they need to stay behind you, that is exactly what they will do as long as it works for them but not necessarily for you. 

You may even find that once you start teaching your dog how to heel properly, it’s easier to teach them not to pull since they aren’t as busy leading the way. So, you’ll be able to get out and enjoy your walks together with no more pulling issues.

What Side Do Dogs Heel On?

When your dog is learning how to heel, you’ll find that they may not want to be on the same side of you every time, so don’t worry about it.

You will need to correct them when they are going on the wrong side but take it slow to avoid making a big deal in other areas with distractions around.

Why Does a Dog Heel on the Left Side?

This is a question that many people ask, but the answer isn’t exactly clear. If you look back to how dogs were used as pack animals, they always went on the left side of the leader, and that’s where most dogs still like to stay when their owner is leading them down the street or around a walkway at home.

Teaching a Dog to Heel Using Different Techniques

Once you teach your dog how to heel using the above techniques, it’s as easy as choosing which one works best in your situation.

Then you’ll have to wait for a quiet time where there is no distraction and then get started with your training. 

Should Dogs Walk on the Left or Right?

You can teach your dog how to heel on either side, and it really doesn’t matter since they will usually stay there when you’re walking down the street or on a sidewalk.

Just make sure that you start on one side of them until they get used to this technique, and then you can switch over to the other side as needed.

Is it Ok to Let Your Dog Walk in Front of You?

Some people say that it’s ok to let your dog walk in front of you but only on a leash. If your dog does walk too far out, gently pull them back towards you and make sure they get right by your side.

It is actually easier for your dog if they are closer to you since this will keep them under control.

How Long Should You Practice Teaching a Dog to Heel?

The more often you practice, the better they will get at heeling by your side, so since it’s such an easy thing for them to do, take a few minutes every day and repeat what you’ve learned from this article.

It will only make things easier when it comes time to walk on the street or around your neighborhood.

How Do I Teach My Dog to Heel Without Treats?

If your dog is used to getting treats whenever you do something with them, just stop that for a bit and use praise instead.

After all, they are trying to learn something new here, and a treat isn’t going to do much good when it comes time to concentrate on being by your side correctly.

Will a No-pull Harness Stop a Dog from Pulling?

Well, no, but it will definitely help with the pulling issues. However, your dog may also try to pull or get confused when wearing a no-pull harness, so you’ll need to teach them how to walk by your side first before trying this out.

Once they’ve learned that part of it, you can add in the extra control provided by the no-pull harness.

What’s Better, a No-pull Harness, Heel Training, or Both?

It’s kind of like choosing what is better, a no-pull harness, or teaching your dog how to heel.

You can do either one, and they will help with walking issues, but you’ll have to choose what works best for you with the training program that will work the best for your dog.

Why Does My Dog Always Pull on the Leash?

There could be many reasons why your dog is always pulling, so make sure that you watch them closely and make adjustments.

It could just be that they want more attention, or it might not like the direction you’re taking them in but keep working at it, and they’ll start to improve on their own over time.

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