now how frustrating it can be if you’ve ever gone for a walk with a puppy who just won’t heel on a leash.
As you know, heeling is when your dog walks by your side without pulling on the leash. It’s a vital skill for dogs to learn. Plus, a fantastic way to bond with your pup.
For many dog owners, teaching their puppy to heel is one of the most important goals of obedience training.
After all, there’s nothing worse than being dragged down the street by a pup who’s determined to go his own way.
Luckily, teaching a puppy how to heel isn’t really that hard. In fact, it is simple that it only takes a few minutes each day.
With a bit of patience and perseverance, you will learn how to teach a puppy how to heel.
That being said, here are five easy steps you can get started:
Start by taking small steps
Do not get discouraged if your puppy isn’t getting it right away.
Remember that puppies have short attention spans and get tired quickly so keep it short and stimulating.
Some dogs progress faster than others so don’t be disheartened if it takes your pup longer to work it out.
You see, any form of training takes time, patience, and repetition. Which is why if you need to take the stress off you and your pup, try enrolling in a puppy obedience class, like this , where you will get support and guidance from professional trainers.
Practice in a quiet, low-traffic area
This could be your backyard or even inside your house. Whether your puppy heel is on the left or the right, make sure you are consistent.
The key is to get your puppy used to the feeling of having someone by their side without being distracted by other things going on around them.
(Pro Tip: Place the leash in your right hand, and the puppy in your left. Hold leash with thumb through loop and grasp handle in the palm.)
Once your pup is comfortable walking with you in a low-traffic area, you can start practising in busier areas with more distractions.
For example, you can try walking around your neighbourhood or the park.
But you have to take it one step at a time. Once the puppy starts to get overwhelmed or distracted, go back to a quiet area and try again next time.
Remember, baby steps are critical when teaching a puppy to heel. Just go at your puppy’s pace and not push him too hard or too fast.
Gradually increase the number of distractions
Speaking of not pushing your pup too hard, it’s important to gradually increase the number of distractions around him when you’re teaching new commands.
If you try to introduce too many distractions all at once, it will be overwhelming for your pup, and he won’t be able to focus on what you’re asking him to do.
So take things slow and steady. As your puppy masters the basics, you can begin to add more distractions.
Some of the most common examples include other people, other animals, and different types of noises.
Again, you need to go at your puppy’s pace. If he seems overwhelmed, take a step back and make the environment less challenging.
Once your puppy can heel despite all sorts of distractions, you’ll know he’s really got it down!
Reward your puppy for good behaviour
Often, puppies will heel best if you use a treat to lure them with a treat in your hand, and as soon as he’s in the correct position, say “heel” and give him the treat.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of positive reinforcement. Treats and verbal praise are a great way to let your puppy know he’s doing a good job.
Consistency with commands and rewards
Don’t give up if your puppy makes mistakes. remember, puppies are still learning.
They will make mistakes along the way.
You should aim for consistency more than perfection.
If you give up too quickly, your puppy will get confused and won’t understand what it is you’re trying to teach him.
So, as long as you’re consistent with your commands and rewards, your puppy will eventually get it.
And before you know it, he’ll be heeling like a pro!
Points To Remember
- Multiple, short sessions are ideal to start with.
- Don’t panic if your puppy is distracted, you can always put them away and try again after.
- Start in low distraction environments and build up.
- Build slowly on duration and distraction.
So there you have it – these are the five easy steps to teaching your puppy how to heel.
If you’re patient and consistent, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your puppy picks it up.
Eventually, the two of you will be enjoying lovely walks together – without being pulled all over the place!
If you have any tips or tricks of your own, please share them in the comments below.
Or, if you’re someone who struggles with teaching your puppy to heel, we’d love to help.
Feel free to reach out to us and book a 7-day free trial lesson online. We’re always happy to help!
Until our next blog post,
Positive K9 Training Team