What Does Heel Mean in Dog Training?

Does your dog have a habit of dragging you down the street? This bad practice is unsafe and can even cause you to get injured. However, there is actually a way to resolve this– by teaching your dog to heel on command. 

In this article, we will discuss what heel means in dog training, its benefits, and some tips on training your dog to heel.

What Exactly Does Heel Mean?

The heel command signals your dog to get by your side and stay there while walking or sitting if you’re standing still. The heel position is characterized by the heel of your foot being in line with your dog’s front foot. However, the exact placement of your dog’s heel has a wiggle room for your personal preferences. 

Some people prefer their dog to be slightly ahead, while others like it to be slightly behind. As long as your dog’s front legs are about next to yours, you are in a heel position. However, if you fall out of your dog’s peripheral, you are certainly not in the heel position.

Why Teach Your Dog to Heel

There are various reasons to teach your dog to heel next to you. Some of the best reasons include:

  • It teaches impulse control. Teaching your dog to heel trains it to walk appropriately and stay in your control. Once he learns this skill, you can expect your pup to behave properly in different environments even if there are a lot of distractions.
  • It teaches your dog not to pull on the leash. By getting your dog to learn how to stay right next to you, your walks will go smoothly. Eventually, you’ll be able to allow it to walk on a loose leash.
  • It provides physical and mental exercise for your dog. Just like other forms of dog training, teaching your dog to heel can stimulate it mentally and physically.
    • It teaches your dog to walk without a leash. If you dream of having your dog walk politely off its leash, you need to teach it the heel command. This will ensure that your dog will stay next to you while walking even without a leash.
  • It can be used as a recall command. When your dog learns the heel command,  you can also use it as an emergency recall command and your dog should get into that position next to you. 
  • It can train a working dog. The heel command is an essential skill that is helpful in everyday life. Your dog can stay next to you calmly even when you take it to the most crowded places.

Tips for Teaching Your Dog to Heel

Teaching your dog to heel can be a lengthy process. So here are some tips to increase your chances of success.

  • Be consistent. You can teach your dog to heel on your left or right side. Whichever side you want it to walk, just be consistent to avoid getting it confused.
    1. Start with basic training. You have higher a chance to succeed if your dog already knows the basics. So start by teaching it how to pay attention, sit still, stay, and walk on a leash. These control-type dog training can prepare your dog for the heel command.
  • Use positive training methods. Never use fear and intimidation when training your dog. They learn best when you reward them with treats, verbal praises, and belly rubs when they perform the desired behaviors.
  • Teach the correct positioning. Have your dog sit next to you either on the left or right side in heel position. Reward and praise it to let it know that it’s in the correct position. You can also use a treat to lure your dog and help it to get into position. Sooner or later your dog will learn the correct positioning even without the rewards.
  • Move only after your dog understands what heel is. Before adding motion, say your dog’s name and the heel command while luring the treat right above its nose. When you step forward and your dog moves with you, give some verbal praises and reward it with a treat. Gradually add more steps and only change direction and pace when your dog can heel correctly for about 20 steps.
  • Keep the training sessions short and always end on a positive note. Dogs have short attention spans so keep the sessions short. Consistency is key to dog training, but too much repetition of drills is also boring for them. Also, make sure you end each training session on a positive note.

The Best Dog Training School

Dog training can be overwhelming and frustrating. If you don’t have the time and patience, or you’re simply not satisfied with your dog’s process, the best solution is to enroll it in the best dog training school. 

Delaware K9 Academy is one of the most trusted dog training providers offering private lessons, puppy training, and 2-week bootcamps. If you’re unsure which type of training is most suitable for your dog’s needs and your goals for your pet, consult with their team today!