Heel Command

(How a dog should always behave on a walk)


What is the Heel command? 

•  Your dog should be walking inline with you with his head even with your left knee

•  When you stop walking your dog should go into an automatic sit

•  You do not have to tell your dog to stay once you stop, as long as you are standing in that position your dog should stay in a sit without breaking command

How do I teach my dog the Heel command?

In order to teach the Heel I suggest a training collar (prong collar) and a six- foot leash

•  The dog should be on your left side, your right hand should be holding the end of the leash and your left hand should be holding the leash about a foot from your dogs collar (the leash should be in front of you)

•  Say “Heel” and start walking, when your dog attempts to walk ahead of you pop back on the leash to bring him back to heel

•  REPEAT every time your dog breaks command

•  On a walk YOU decide what direction you take, where you go, how far, and how fast. Keep your dog at your side, if the dog tries to stop or resist POP the training collar and bring him to heel.

•  If your dog is lagging behind pop the collar forward, if he is pulling ahead pop the collar back

•  Practice turning with your dog… during a walk make a sharp turn keeping your dog at your side. Practice turning to the right with your dog (imagine a compass…face “north” with your dog, POP the collar, turn to the east POP the collar, you want to POP the collar with every turn of the compass so your dog learns to stay by your side)

•  During a walk your dog should not be looking from side to side… when your dog starts looking around (at other dogs, people passing by, etc) POP the dog back towards your body

Sitting in Heel

•  Walk with your dog in a heel position and come to a stop

•  Make sure your dog is next to you on the left side and their head is inline with your left knee

•  If your dog does not sit when you stop, gently reach down and using your thumb and forefinger press down on the lower spine (thumb on one side, forefinger on the other) while putting your dog in sit you simultaneously pull up on the collar, this will create pressure and put your dog into a sit

You do not want to use too much pressure doing this or use an open hand, your dog will resist too much. You also want to press down in a continuous pressure or else if the dog does not go down and you give up, the dog wins…you want the dog to listen to you…keep in mind that I do this with 150 lb dogs with very little pressure

•  If they get up from the Sit without your release (the release is you continuing on the walk), say “No” and gently put them into position again. Your dog should be sitting when you are standing still!

•  Your dog should stay in Sit until you begin walking, no words need to be said, he should walk when you walk and sit when you stop

•  Eventually your dog will sit automatically when you come to a stop

Every time you pop the leash you are allowed to say “Heel”… this is the one command you are allowed to repeat.

Q: How long do I use a prong collar?

A: “Until the war in Iraq is over”

Until you have advanced to competition level off-leash training you should be using the prong collar.

Q: I feel like I am hurting my dog, what should I do?

A: Get over it. You are not hurting your dog. If your dog is screaming, dancing, or resisting it is because he does not like giving up his power to you.

Q: I am having a hard time putting my dog's collar on and removing it. Could I make it larger so I can just slip it over?

A: NO! Buy an easier to handle prong collar if you're having trouble.

Q: Can my dog go to the bathroom in Heel?

A: This is not a sightseeing walk; it is for training therefore there is NO sniffing. If YOU chose to let your dog go to the bathroom, release him with “okay” and let him go on a designated spot. Then go right back into Heel.

Q: Is my dog allowed to meet other dogs in Heel or let people pet him?

A: No! Your dog is in training.

Q: If I'm stopping and my dog sits while I'm talking with someone for a while is it okay for him to lie down?

A: No. Unless you have studied my Down command yet then your dog should NOT be allowed to lie down. What is the difference between him laying down or lunging at somebody in heel?

Q: When we pass another dog and my dog starts to bark should I stop and have him sit?

A: NO. Your dog should not have the power to change your course. Give him a strong correction (“No”, and POP the collar) and continue walking.

Q: When do I say no? When do I say heel?

A: If your dog is barking, lunging, or growling then you say “No” and give him the correction. All other behavior gets a “Heel” and a POP as well.

Q: Does it matter if I walk my dog on the left or on the right?

A: I prefer the left side; it is how dogs are walked in competition. But technically no it does not matter as long as you are using the same name for the command. You can teach your dog to walk on both sides, using two different words (for instance, you could use English for one side, and a different language for the other. My dogs have learned their commands in German.)