Actually What Does Heel Mean to a Dog?

Walking is such an intimate and fun activity to do with your dog, but not until they start dragging you! I’ve been dragged a lot before I trained my dog to learn how to HEEL. But what does heel mean to a dog anyway and how can you teach it to them?

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Among the many basic commands, I believe teaching your puppy to heel is one of the most important ones. And yes, you have to teach it to them at a younger age for them to follow it all throughout their lives! So read on as I show you how to teach a dog to heel. 

What Does Heel Mean?

This command simple means that your dog should walk next to you rather than in front of behind you.

What does heel mean in dog training, really? 

This command simple means that your dog should walk next to you rather than in front of behind you. This is a command that’s meant for dogs to keep pace with your speed, only stopping when you do or walking when you are. 

As time goes by and they master the comment, it also teaches your dog to walk off-leash for a more enjoyable and peaceful walk.

It’s an extremely important command to get the control you need to have with your dogs. It shows them discipline and also prevents any accidents or injuries from being dragged. Also, it gives them confidence if they keep shying themselves back rather than pacing with you.

what does heel mean to a dog

As time goes by and they master the comment, it also teaches your dog to walk off-leash for a more enjoyable and peaceful walk. 

How to Teach a Puppy to Heel

Now that we answered the question, “what does heel mean for a dog,” it’s time to actually begin training! Here are the simple steps to start teaching your dog this simple and effective command:

1. When Should I Train the Heel Command? 

what does heel mean for a dog

When they become used to walking and following your pace a bit, it’s time to teach them how to heel.

Contrary to what some dog owners believe, you have to make sure that you teach your dog how to heel as soon as they start walking! In fact, you need to begin training your dog the moment you get them. This means that you have to introduce the crate to them when introducing them to his new home. 

Once he’s familiar with the crate, it’s time to have him learn to follow you around the house with a leash. This helps them get used to being on a leash and walking at your pace. When they become used to walking and following your pace a bit, it’s time to teach them how to heel.

NEVER punish him through spanks or other forms of physical abuse. Instead, take on a stern voice and say a sharp NO.

Take note, this will take time and effort, so make sure that you stay patient and equip yourself with praises and treats! If ever he does something wrong, NEVER punish him through spanks or other forms of physical abuse. Instead, take on a stern voice and say a sharp NO.

2. Beginner Training 

I highly recommend that you begin clicker training as a beginner trainer. This is the first step to heel training for puppies or dogs who haven’t been trained for this command yet.

That’s where the clicker comes along, notifying your dog that they did a command successfully and to encourage them to keep focusing on you.

Clickers are a great way to get efficient results, as well as having delicious treats on hand for for him to enjoy (as mentioned above!). For starters, have a clicker on your right hand with training treats on the other hand. 

Start heel training in an environment your dog is familiar with, whether it’s in the basement, living room, or fenced yards. Have your puppy on your left side and let them sit and stay. When they do it successfully, do a click and give him a treat, letting them sit calmly beside you until he’s ready for walking.

Before you begin walking, ensure they are following your simple commands calmly. They should also be completely focused on YOU. That’s where the clicker comes along, notifying your dog that they did a command successfully and to encourage them to keep focusing on you.

Have them sit, stay and repeat the walking again until they’re in position and focused on you.

Now, begin to walk forward slowly, using the command, “HEEL.” Your pet should be walking beside you at the same slow pace. You can have them do this by holding the treats out an inch in front of their faces to guide them, with every two steps clicking and giving a treat.

If ever your dog starts to veer away, stop walking right away and call them. Have them sit, stay and repeat the walking again until they’re in position and focused on you.

3. Advanced Training 

Start by walking back and forth, then start changing pace and even add some obstacles to see how he can focus.

When you’ve already established training like this for a week, then it’s time for you to start walking outside! This time, you can leave your treats in your pocket and leave the left hand empty-handed. 

As your dog walks calmly beside you, give them a treat every other step. Progress by giving him a treat after five steps, working your way up to ten steps. Start by walking back and forth, then start changing pace and even add some obstacles to see how he can focus.

The ultimate challenge is to have him go to the dog park or a longer distance, removing their leash.

Continue training this way until your dog follows the heel command perfectly, only receiving treats once in a while. You can do verbal praises and clickers rather than treats, though one or two is good, too.

The ultimate challenge is to have him go to the dog park or a longer distance, removing their leash. This teaches them independence but to still obey you and behave. Plus, it helps everyone else around you feel safe, with or without your dog’s leash.

how to teach a puppy to heel

Wrapping It Up

What does heel mean to a dog? Maybe we’ll never get to know the exact answer, but for us, it’s a Godsend that has us walk with them much more efficiently. With the HEEL command, you won’t have to worry about being dragged and feel like you’re out of control.

I hope this article on how to teach heel to dogs helped you out! So don’t wait any longer and start training your puppy or dog properly now.

If you have nay questions or want to share your own tips on training your dog the command “HEEL,” then comment below! Your thoughts are much appreciated.

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