The “Heel” command

The “heel” command is useful for teaching your dog to walk politely on a leash and to stay by your side when off leash. If your dog is simply a family pet and you are just looking for basic obedience skills then it doesn’t matter what side you teach him to heel on.

As with previous commands, we will start in a low distraction environment and gradually work up to more difficult scenarios. it’s  always good to start in the house, and we will resume using the clicker for this activity.

Show your dog that you have a treat in your hand, and then walk around the house with your dog at your side and the treat down in front of his nose.

Continue to walk around and change directions trying to keep your dog at your side. At some point he will look up at you, and this is when I like to click the clicker and reward him. I suggest clicking when he looks up because when your dog is in heel you want him to be focused on you and where you’re heading. After practicing a few sessions where you’re walking around with your dog at your side, clicking, and rewarding when he looks up, you can begin to add the word “heel”.

Repeat the same sequence but this time say “heel” and start walking with your dog at your side. When your dog looks up at you click, say “good heel”, and reward. As with training “stay”, if your dog breaks “heel” use your sharp verbal tone to correct him and lure him back into heel using your treats.

Continue practicing heeling in different places and with increasingly higher levels of distraction until your dog masters the command. A great time to practice is during your daily walks!

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