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Teaching Your Dog to Heel

Teaching a dog not pull on the lead while walking is one of the most common problems all dog owner have.

I've tried ideas from at least 10 different trainers, but the following method seems to be one of the best. For me, I have found that its not the quickest way, but it works 99% of the time. 

Start by putting a short (3 to 4 foot) leash on your dog. With the dog standing next to your left leg, make your dog sit or stand with it's head next to your left knee. 

When the dog is calm, begin the session by taking one short step forward. As you do, give slight tension forward on the leash. When the dog begins to move release any pressure so that you are not pulling. When the dog takes one (and only one) step, praise the dog. If it takes more than one step, re-set the dog to the original spot and begin again.

When the dog is able to take only one step at a time, move to two steps, then three and so on. Remember to praise and reward your dog when it does it right. Take it slow. You may only get one or two steps during the first few sessions, but if you are patient your dog WILL get the message. When you can get three or four steps, add the word "HEEL" as you begin to move forward. Until this point, (three or four steps) it's best not to say ANYTHING at all. 

Some dogs will figure this out within a few minutes, others may need three or four sessions, still others may take a week or so. No matter how long it takes, each time the dog takes a step and stops next to you, reward it for staying in position next to your leg. If the dog goes to far or breaks formation ... calmly call it back to your side and start over. 

As with all training, keep your sessions short. Advanced training should be kept under 10 minutes in length. Always do something that the dog likes to do when the session ends. Playing with the dog's favorite toy or going for a walk will keep your dog interested in training. Because there is a "fun time" following the training, it will make the dog more willing to train well.



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