Command: Heel

Dog being trained to heel

Step 1: Start with Attention

  • Begin with your dog’s focus and attention on you.
  • Use an enticing treat held in your left hand near your right leg to guide your dog’s attention to the desired position.

Step 2: Use the Cue

  • Give the verbal cue “Heel” in a firm but encouraging tone as you take your first step.
  • Keep the treat at your side, close to your leg.

Step 3: Maintain Position

  • Walk with your dog at your left side, making sure they stay close to you.
  • If your dog starts to pull or wander, gently guide them back to the correct position using the treat and your left leg.

Step 4: Reward for Compliance

  • Continue walking and periodically mark and reward your dog with “Yes” and treats when they maintain the proper “Heel” position.
  • Be consistent with your praise and rewards to reinforce the desired behavior.

Step 5: Practice and Build Duration

  • Practice short sessions to begin with, gradually increasing the distance of your “Heel” walks.
  • Maintain a consistent pace, keeping your dog engaged and focused.
  • Gradually reduce the frequency of treats but continue with verbal praise and occasional rewards to reinforce the behavior.

Step 6: Add Distractions

  • As your dog becomes proficient at heeling, introduce distractions gradually.
  • Ensure your dog maintains the “Heel” position even in the presence of mild distractions.

Step 7: Use the Hand Signal

  • Introduce a hand signal for “Heel” by extending your left hand to the side with your palm facing down. This gesture will become the visual cue for the “Heel” command.

Step 8: Transition to Off-Leash

  • When your dog consistently heels on a leash, transition to practicing off-leash in a secure and safe environment.
  • Use the hand signal and verbal cue to guide your dog into the “Heel” position.

Final Notes: Remember to be patient and consistent in your training. The “Heel” command promotes controlled walking and helps strengthen your bond with your dog. Keep training sessions enjoyable and rewarding, and your dog will become a master of the “Heel” command.

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