Imagine walking through a busy market place with pup by your side. You weave in and out of crowds, slip through small openings, stop to buy some freshly baked goods. Where is your dog this whole time? Pup is right by your side in the heel position. Your dog sits when you stop to order food, keeps pace with you as you make your way through the streets, and hugs into your leg as you slip through the crowds. Pup is happily following you and watching your every move.
Now imagine walking through your neighborhood with your small dog choking on the end of the leash as they try to pull ahead. You dread passing over dogs, you dare not take your dog anywhere crowded, and you feel quite embarrassed when you receive odd looks from neighbors. What’s the difference between these two dogs? One knows Heel and the other does not.
Dogs are traditionally taught to Heel on the left side because historically hunters needed to keep their right hand free for shooting. If pup won’t be hunting with you or pursuing an obedience title, your dog can be trained on your right or left.
A proper Heel means that pup’s muzzle is right beside your leg, at your heel, and not past it or too far behind. This position allows you to lead the walk and to make turns without bumping into your dog. It also prevents pup from pulling, wanding away, or lagging too far behind.
Some dogs like to lean on you while heeling. Try to discourage this behavior since you may trip over a dog who leans on you, and often that dog is leaning so that they don’t have to pay as much attention to where you are going.
If the leash is new to your dog, Heel training should take place after a puppy or dog has overcome any initial fear they have of the leash. You can teach any age dog to heel, but of course, the younger your pup is when you start, the easier it will be and the less time it will take.
You will need a few things to teach your small dog to walk in the heel position. You will need:
If you want this training to be successful, you need to stick to it and work with your pup on a daily basis. The nice thing about this "trick" is that you can work on it every time you take your pup for a walk.