Obedience – Teaching Your Dog to Heel

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Being dragged around by your dog is not fun; it can be dangerous and embarrassing. If you have not had the opportunity to heel an untrained dog take a moment to consider all the problems this could present. Your dog could cause you to fall and hurt yourself, cause your hand to become cut from their leash, even manage to pull from your grasp which could result in injury or even death.

The training method described in this article relies on using a pinch collar (also known as a prong collar). This will be used to give your dog a correction when needed. Here are some tips on choosing the rightcollar and leash.

To start the heel command place your dog in a sit position. Hold your leash in your right hand, this allows you to be able to give your dog a correction using your left hand to jerk the leash. Now give your dog a heel command this should consist of a word and action.

The action serves the purpose of getting your dog to focus not only on your voice but your movements. This is essential because if your dog is watching you he/she is not going to see the cat they want to chase! Many people use the word “heel” followed by starting to walk with their “right” foot.  Moving your right foot forward is a great visual command for your dog to heel.

When a dog is heeling properly they will have their shoulders aligned with your leg. When you stop walking they should immediately sit at your side. If your dog fails to do these things you should immediately give them a correction.

A correction should be followed by placing them on a sit command and starting “heel” over. At first walk your dog for short distances, once they stay aligned with your body and stop when you do; PRAISE them. This is essential as it is both motivation and reward for your dog.

Once your dog can heel on their leash and they are watching you (so you know you have their attention), you may want to begin trying the heel command off leash. This should be done in a safe place where your dog cannot get access to a road.

You will use the same process as above, but keep in mind that you will not be able to easily correct your dog, so this should be done when you feel your dog is truly ready. If you try with no success continue practicing with the leash on to allow for corrections. When you feel your dog has improved try off leash again. With enough practice your dog will be able to heel both on and off leash.

If you are consistent with these steps you will be successful and will have a dog who will heel beautifully at your side. If you find your dog is not getting  it then it is time to evaluate yourself.

Simple things that we forget could confuse our dogs and make training harder. If this is happening, maybe have a friend or family member watch you to see if you are doing something wrong without even noticing it.

Training your dog is so important not only for safety but because it creates a special bond between dog and owner. When you train a dog they feel as if they are working as part of a team. They are happier and more adjusted. Just like children dogs need discipline and rules, by giving them these things we will create a bond that will last a life time.

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