How to Teach a Dog to Heel Perfectly - I Love My Little Dogs

How to Teach a Dog to Heel Perfectly

How to Teach a Dog to Heel Perfectly

Have you taken your dog out for a walk and ended up getting dragged along behind them instead of leading your furry companion? The heel command is what your dog needs. So, how do you teach your dog to heel perfectly?

Taking your furry buddy out for a walk is a healthy and fun routine, where they get to sniff and walk around comfortably. But, it can soon become a strenuous task if your dog scampers off and constantly tugs on the leash. Teaching your pup to walk in heel position takes considerable patience and training. With positive reinforcement and consistency, any dog will learn to heel soon, making your walking experience more enjoyable. 

But, What Does Heel Mean?

The heel command requires your dog to walk in a controlled manner directly next to you instead of lagging behind or walking in front of you. Just because your pooch walks on a leash without pulling doesn’t indicate they’re heeling. Your dog must work towards maintaining your same pace, walking when you walk and stopping only when you stop.

Canine pets walking at a human pace do not require much physical exercise. But, the structured walk requires a great deal of mental discipline. Heel positioning also keeps your dog in an alert state of mind where you constantly remain in their peripheral vision. This reminds them that you are calling the shots and taking the direction instead of your dog making their own decisions. 

Importance Of Heel Training

Heel training benefits pet owners who wish to have more control over their canine companions. It also promotes a much safer walking experience where they’re less likely to chase after things they fancy or munch on toxic things that can be dangerous for them to ingest. 

Training your dog to heel will make the daily walk more relaxing and peaceful. Though they must’ve spent most of their life pulling and tugging at the leash, it’s never too late to fix this behavior. It also helps create a closer bond between your dog and yourself, allowing them to focus on you and enhance their overall communication skills.

Before You Start Heel Training

You will have to gather a few essentials before training your furry companion how to heel. Let’s look at each of them in detail. 

Get lots of yummy treats:

If you’re trying to teach your dog any skill, you need lots of valuable treats (ones they like) ready. This will keep them motivated to walk calmly in a disciplined manner by your side. The treats should not be too big or hard so that it takes them longer to swallow or chew. Avoid opting for cookie treats, as they would be more eager to hunt for the crumbs that fall on the ground rather than stay focused on the training.

Choose plenty of treats your pup finds absolutely hard to resist, but don’t spoil their diet. Smaller ones are the best as you will have to give them lots of treats initially to reward their good behavior. Using treats as positive reinforcement is something they will enjoy and is easy for you to provide. 

Body harness and leash: 

A short leash and a body harness are necessary before you crack on heel training with your pooch. The body harness will give you better control over your dog during the training and avoid unnecessary strain on their neck. 

You must practice heel training each time you take your dog out for a walk. Additionally, a positive attitude and patience are necessary to achieve the goal. 

Easy Ways to Heel Train Your Dog 

Though there are different ways to teach your dog the heel cue, one of the easiest ways to train them quickly is by using the firm pull or lure and reward method. For this, you will need the following:

· A body harness or dog collar. 

· Leash. 

· Clicker. 

· Plenty of dog treats.

Steps for Heel Training

1. Get ready for walking – Secure your dog with a body harness and leash and start walking. Get a good deal of treats and head towards a quiet, distraction-free location where other animals or people are not present.

2. Position them – Get your dog to stand on your left side and place the clicker on the right hand. If he pulls the leash, pull them back in the opposite direction to show them you are in control. 

3. Repeat the process – Repetition is key when it comes to heel training. If he uses the leash, pull in the opposite direction. Though they find it frustrating, he will eventually understand the signal. Practice this each time you go for a walk. 

4. Rectify bad behavior – While practicing for at least 10 minutes each time, your pup may wander around, stop walking or even lose focus. Correct the bad behavior by calling out their name and giving them the sit command. Once they return to the correct position, give the heel cue and restart walking. 

5. Reward with treats – Once your dog starts improving and walking at your side, encourage them with verbal praises and give them their favorite treats. The positive reinforcement will help them understand what is expected of them while on a walk.

Heel Training: How Long Will It Take?

Never underestimate how tricky it can be to get your dog to heel. In particular, if he has spent most of his life running around on the leash, you may have to resort to several obedience commands to manage their behavior. At times, it may just take approximately three weeks to break the cycle. If the behavior is well-ingrained and you lack consistency, it may take more than 2 to 3 months to rectify this behavior. 


Teaching your dog to heel is all about training them to remain close by your side while out for walks. Whether on or off the leash, heel training is the best way to instill discipline and self-control in your canine pets. But, every time you take your dog for a walk, they need not walk in a heel position. Also, you shouldn’t expect them to do so. 

Dogs also require the freedom and opportunity to stretch themselves and sniff at different things they find. However, walking in heel position is a safety measure in certain cases, such as navigating through a busy crowd, crossing a traffic signal, or when you have to move quickly from something harmful.

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