What Does Heel Mean in Dog Training?
What Does Heel Mean in Dog Training? A Beginners Guide
Dogs are active species meaning they love to walk and explore their surroundings and environment. As a dog owner, you will always take your dog to dog parks or dog shows or to any play area where you can walk with your dog.
Like every animal on the planet, dogs get amazed and move towards the things that are new to them. They see a flower and will go toward it and maybe pee on it. This trait to explore is natural and is present in all animals including dogs.
Dogs are not born to follow, even if you are on a dog walk, you will notice that your dog will walk either in front of you or behind you. Dogs need to be trained to walk right beside you. But if you are walking outside your home and your dog is not trained, you will always need a leash to handle your dog.
Dogs may run away after seeing something interesting at a distance and try to go there, stopping them from going can be a difficult task.
You need to teach your dog to obey your commands. Today we will be discussing how to train your dog to follow and walk beside you on your command which is called "HEEL" Today we will talk about why is it important and what it means.
What does Heel Mean in Dog Training?
Heeling is a command which means that your dog should walk at the spot where you want it to walk rather than walking in front or behind or pulling the leash. In general, it means walking your dog by your side.
- The dog should walk at the destined position.
- Dogs head and shoulders should be very aligned with the dog owner's hip.
- It should not be more than 6 inches.
- It should be on the left side.
- Your dog should follow your command even if he is sitting, he should get up and sit at your side, determined as a heel.
The heel position is determined only by the owner. You can pick any position and choose it as Heel.
- Most people use their left side as HEEL and it's totally fine because most people are right-handed. If you are left-handed, you can keep your right position as HEEL.
- In the past, people used to hang their swords on the right side and in order not to harm their dog with a sword, they used the left side as their heel position.
However, you can use any side as the heel and it's totally fine.
Why There is a Need to Teach Heel Position?
There are a lot of benefits of teaching dogs a Heel command. Most of them have been discussed above. Let’s have a look at a few more of them.
How to Train a Dog to Heel?
The heel is the most difficult command to teach your dog and like any other dog training it requires consistency and patience. For heel training, there should be no distractions near your dog and it's preferable to start training indoors.
You can select any side as the Heel position and as I'm right-handed, I'll take my left side as the Heel. Like any other training on our site, this training is also divided into steps for better understanding and the best performance of your dog. Let's get to it.
1. Start by teaching some basic training
- Train your dog how to sit, stand, fetch, and lie down.
- Your dog should be trained to exercise indoors.
- Let your dog know that he will be rewarded after every exercise and task you give him. Keep your treats ready.
- Teach your dog some praise signs. You can use clippers for this. The clipper sound will mean "Good Boy" to tell the dog that it is doing very well.
2. Teach Heel Position
- Make sure your dog is in front of you.
- Take your dog to sit in the position you determined as Heel
- After your dog sits there, give it a treat.
- Teach your dog to sit in the heel position because normally dogs sit right in front of their owners and sitting aside seems different to them.
- Practice this again and again until your dog learns what is heel position and where to sit when given a command.
- Do not forget to give treats after every session.
3. The dog's focus should only be on you in the Heel Position
- After your dog learns where its heel position is and where to sit when commanded.
- Now it's time to grab its attention toward you
- When your dog is sitting next to you, call his name, and as soon as he looks at you give it a wonderful treat.
- Keep practicing it until your dog realizes that sitting in the heel position and keeping focus on the owner will reward him with a treat.
4. Move One Step Forward.
Now that your dog knows its heel position and his focus is also on you, move one step forward.
- Stand with your dog in the heel position.
- Keep a treat in your hand and make sure your dog is seeing it.
- Move one step forward.
- As soon as your dog moves one step forward, praise the dog followed by the treat.
- Practice this multiple times and use a treat as a lure.
- Your dog should only move one step forward.
5. Move multiple steps
This time you have to increase the number of steps that you moved first. With every step you move, give a treat to your dog. Practice it for multiple days. Increase 2 to 3 steps every day till you reach twenty steps. This will take time but ultimately your dog will get used to it.
6. Change Directions (Right and Left)
Now it is time to level up the bar. Your dog is half trained successfully but he is only trained to walk in a straight line. Now we add directions in our training. After moving twenty steps with your dog, Change directions and if your dog Change directions too, praise your dog heavily followed by a treat. Continue this multiple times until your dog learns to change directions with you.
7. Stop randomly and give Heel commands
Now that your dog knows how to walk in synchronization with you, it's time to check whether he stops at the same time too.
- For this walk with your dog and randomly stop and call "Heel" at the same time. When your dog stops and looks at you, give it a treat. The idea for this is to tell the dog when to stop.
8. Give Cues with a hand.
After your dog has learned to come to heel position by voice, now it's time to call hand cues.
- Call your dog "Heel" and tap on your left leg at the same time and when it comes to heel position, give it a treat.
- Keep practicing this multiple times and finally, just tap on your leg without saying Heel and when your dog comes to heel position, give it a good treat.
9. Change the Pace of the walk
Keep varying your speed of walking while your dog is in the heel position. The idea is to synchronize your dog's walk with your walk. It will take time but eventually your dog will learn to match your pace.
10. Take to Road
Now that your dog is trained to walk with you in the Heel position in synchronization. Now it's time to test it outdoors where there are a lot of distractions.
Keep practicing this outside and every time your dog tries to lose focus, call "heel" to grab its attention and reward him with a treat. Give Treats every time.
Things to Keep in Mind
- Keep your training sessions short as it is physical training and the dog may not have enough stamina first.
- Always give treats to lure your dog.
- End training sessions on a positive note.