Teaching your dog the Heel Command is very useful in many different situations such as crossing the street when cars are passing by or when walking in the park and there is another dog or any other strong distraction that might interrupt your walk. The Heel Command is loose leash walking with added limits to your dog's position. The dog must stay within a foot or two of your left knee and sit automatically when you stop walking. Complete attention is required from both the dog and his handler and at times can be quite tiring for both until the heel command is mastered.
To start shaping the heel command from loose leash walking, have your dog's favorite treat in your right hand and hold the leash in your left with just a little bit of slack when the dog is sitting level with your left knee.
Next, say your dog's name and Heel as you start to walk at a brisk pace while keep the dogs attention on you or the treat. Remember to use a happy tone and reaffirm you dog's actions with Good Dog or Good Girl. As you come to a stop, tighten the leash to stop the forward motion. When your dog stops mark the action again with the Good Dog cue and reward him or her with the treat.
Keep repeating this and gradually increase the amount of steps and start adding right and left turns into the routine. If your dog gets more than a foot away from your knee in any direction then repeat the heel command as you turn in the opposite direction. Slap your left knee to encourage your dog to follow before the leash gets to tight.
You never want to pull a dog back or forward with the leash as this will trigger the opposite reaction in the dog and is a battle that is not necessary. When you are walking, always keep some dog treats in your right hand. That way you can occasionally lean over and reward your dog as you walk when he is in the right position.
Research has shown that dogs are very sensitive to the tone in your voice. To a dog, a happy high-pitched tone helps to motivate them to move or come towards you. A dog mother uses a high-pitched whine to call her puppies towards her. You want to use this voice when you want your dog to come, sit, or heel. Use a stronger deeper tone when you want your dog to stay, get off, or stay.
The Importance Of Setting Training Goals:
You should have short-term, mid-term and long-term goals before you star working with your dog. A short-term goal (achieved in a few weeks) may be something like having your canine friend sit and stay for one minute. A mid-term goal may be having your dog walk loosely on a leash and follow the heel command while walking in a strange place. A long-term goal may be having your dog participate in and organized dog-sporting event. Remember to keep the goals realistic at each level and you and your dog will be much happier.
Ruff... Ruff... Digga... Digga... and happy dog training to you and your dog.
For more dog obedience tips and ideas visit: Dog Obedience Training 101.com