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How To Teach A Dog To Heel

Last Updated on May 15, 2023

Teaching a dog to heel is an essential part of responsible pet ownership. Healing requires your pup to keep up with you and stay parallel to your body as you move, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Teaching a dog to heel can even be enjoyable!

With the right approach, clear structure, and plenty of positive reinforcement, almost any pup can learn how to remain alongside its owner when taking walks. In this article, we will walk through the basics of teaching a dog to heel so you can have an obedient canine who happily trots beside you wherever you go.

Listen to this article below.

Start with a basic understanding of what heel means

In dog training, the phrase “heel” refers to a specific walking style in which the dog stays close to its owner’s side. When taught correctly and consistently, a heel-trained dog will walk beside you, not ahead or behind you. Teaching a reliable heel can be invaluable as it ensures your pup is safe while walking.

Create a positive environment for learning

Start by setting your pup up for success. Find an area that is calm and quiet, with minimal distractions. Make sure to bring plenty of high-value treats—you’ll need them to reward your pup throughout the training process! If you have multiple people in your family training heeling together, ensure everyone is on the same page and understands the commands they’ll be using.

Prepare yourself and your pup

Before starting any training session with your puppy, ensure they are prepared to learn. Start by ensuring they have had plenty of physical exercise before teaching them anything new; dogs need both physical and mental stimulation for optimal learning outcomes. Additionally, have some high-value treats handy for reward-based training.

Start with basic obedience commands like sit and stay.

Before teaching your dog how to heel, they need to understand basic obedience commands like sit and stay. To ensure that your pup can follow these commands, start practicing in a quiet area with few distractions. Make sure your pup is focusing on you, and reward good behavior with treats or praise.

Teach a Nose-to-Hand Target

The first step to teaching a dog to heel is to teach them a nose-to-hand target. Start by holding your hand out with a treat and then asking the dog to “target” your hand by touching its dog’s nose or pawing. Once they do, could you give them the treat as a reward? Repeat this a few times until the dog quickly understands and will target your hand on command.

Gradually introduce the heel command while walking your dog on a leash

Start walking with your dog on a leash, and use the word “heel” to signify that you want him to stay by your side. If he gets too far ahead, he quickly turns around and goes in the opposite direction while saying “heel.” This will encourage him to follow you instead of getting ahead. When he returns to your side, reward him with verbal praise and treats.

Practice this exercise in different places, like a dog park or an open area, where there are more distractions for your dog to overcome. As he gets better at following commands while walking on a leash, slowly increase the distance between you and him by taking more significant steps. When he follows you for longer distances, give him more significant rewards like treats and verbal praises.

Reward your dog for following your commands and being a good healer

Reward your dog for following your commands and being a good healer

One of the most critical parts of teaching a dog to heel is rewarding them for their good behavior. Dogs respond best when they are rewarded for following your commands, so make sure you’re praising and treating them whenever they do something right. Treats are usually the best reward for this type of positive reinforcement; however, you could also use a toy or verbal praise. When rewarding your dog, give the treat immediately after they follow your command so they can connect their action and the reward.

Get Ready to Mark a Behavior

Marking behavior is one of the easiest ways to teach your dog how to heel. The idea behind it is simple – mark any behavior close to what you want and reward it. As a result, the dog learns that healing brings rewards! This can be done with either clicker training or verbal cues. It is essential to be consistent in your approach and not to let the behavior slide if it is not done correctly.

Be consistent with your training and provide plenty of positive reinforcement

Teaching a dog to heel is an essential part of basic obedience. It helps keep your pup from pulling on the leash and ensures that they pay attention in public. Here are some tips to help you effectively teach your dog to heel:

1. Have a consistent routine: Consistency is critical in training your pup. Use the same commands and lead your dog in the same direction each time.

2. Reward your pup: Positive reinforcement is crucial for teaching a dog to heel. Whenever they follow your commands, reward them with praise or small treats. This will help reinforce the behavior you want to see.

3. Use a clicker: A clicker is an excellent tool for training your pup to heel. It helps them understand desired behaviors and can be rewarding when done correctly.

4. Give verbal cues: Be sure to give verbal cues such as “heel” each time you start the behavior so that your pup knows what you expect.

5. Practice in new environments: Make sure to practice healing in different environments so your pup will understand the behavior no matter where you are.

By being consistent with your training, providing plenty of positive reinforcement, and using tools such as a clicker and verbal cues, it is possible to teach your pup to heel. Good luck and happy training!

Have patience – it may take time for your dog to learn how to heel correctly

Training your dog to heel is an essential skill that will help you take walks with your pup without them pulling you around. Teaching a dog to heel can be relatively simple. However, it may take time and patience on your part as the trainer. The following tips will help guide you through teaching your pup this essential command:

  • Start by having your dog sit and stay. Make sure they are paying attention to you before proceeding.
  • Once your pup sits, hold onto its leash a few steps forward. As you walk, call out the command “heel” so that they will understand what you want them to do.
  • If your pup stays by your left side, reward them with a treat or words of encouragement. If they fall behind or ahead of you, stop and bring their attention back to you via the leash before continuing.
  • With each successful step forward, reinforce your pup’s behavior by providing treats and praise.
  • Once your pup has mastered walking nicely.
  • By your side, you can slowly increase the distance between you.
  • Repeat these steps until your pup can heel off-leash without being pulled by the leash.

It is important to remember that teaching your dog to heel requires patience and consistency for them to learn the skill successfully. With sufficient repetition and rewards, you can walk with your canine companion confidently in no time.

Gradually increase the distance between you and your dog as they become more comfortable with the exercise

Once your dog is comfortable with the basics of heeling, you can gradually increase the distance between you. Start by taking a few steps away from your pup, and reward them for following you. Over time, keep increasing this distance while still rewarding when they follow you. Eventually, work up to having your dog heel at longer distances, such as when you are walking around the yard or down the street.

It may also be helpful to practice healing in different environments. For example, you could try practicing at home or on a neighborhood walk. Heeling outside can help your pup learn to respond to other environmental stimuli that may distract them, such as cars, people, and animals.

Be patient and consistent with your pup as they learn to heel; this is a difficult task, and it may take some time for them to understand the command entire walk. With patience and practice, you’ll eventually have a pup who can easily follow your lead.

Be consistent with your commands and rewards, and remain patient while training your dog

When teaching your dog to heel, consistency is critical. Start by having your dog sit and stay in one spot. Use the command “heel” while you move away from them with a treat in hand. Reward them when they follow and continue to use the treat as an incentive as you move around the room. As they become more comfortable with the command, gradually increase the distance between you and your dog learn.

Once they’ve mastered walking alongside you at a slower pace, increase your walking speed. Use verbal commands such as “heel” and “come” as well as hand signals to keep them in line. Always reward them for following your commands and staying close by.

Practice different scenarios with your pup while on their leash so they understand that it applies in any situation. This includes when there is a distraction, like another dog or person nearby. Make sure you adhere to proper etiquette while out in public so that the behavior stays positive and consistent.

Have Lots of Treats Ready

When teaching a dog to heel, it’s essential to have lots of treats. You will use these treats as rewards when the pup is doing what you want them to do. Choose small, soft treats that your pup loves so they will be motivated to stay focused and learn quickly. It’s best to use treats with a strong scent, as this will help keep your pup’s attention.

Know How To Stand Correctly

When training your dog to heel, standing in the proper position is essential. When teaching your puppy how to heel, you should stand off-center of them slightly and crouch down to get closer to their eye level. It would help if you held a treat out in front of the pup while keeping one hand on their collar or leash close to their body. This will make it easier for them to follow the direction that you give them.

Practice The Heel Command

Once you stand in the correct position with a treat, tell your pup to ‘heel’ and start strolling. When they fall in line with you, reward them with the treat and praise them for following your command. Repeat this a few times until the pup understands that ‘heeling’ means following you. It is essential to give your pup time to process the command and figure out what you are asking them to do.

How to Handle Whining and Barking

Besides healing, another essential aspect of dog training is teaching your pup how to handle whining and barking. It’s natural for dogs to express themselves through vocalization, but too much can cause problems with neighbors or guests.

The best way to address this is by teaching the “No Bark” command – when your dog’s attention begins barking, you give them a firm “No Bark” command followed by an alternate behavior such as looking at you or sitting down. If they obey this command, be sure to praise and reward them with a treat immediately. With enough practice and repetition, your pup will learn not to bark without being commanded.

You can also use positive reinforcement methods such as clicker training to teach your dog to stop barking on command. This is a great way to reinforce the “No Bark” command and create a lasting impression. Once your pup understands what is expected of them, provide rewards and praise when they successfully obey the command.

Create a Winding-down Routine

Teaching your pup to heel training is essential to have a well-behaved dog. To ensure success, it’s best to create a consistent winding-down routine for your pup before you begin. This will help him stay focused and understand when it’s time to be obedient. Give him a set amount of time to play and explore. Then, give him fewer treats when it’s time to settle down and start the lesson.

Get His Attention

To teach your pup to heel, you must first get his attention. To do this, call out his name in an upbeat tone and kneel or squat down. This will help him understand that you are ready to start the lesson. Continue praising him when he responds, and give him a treat for responding quickly.

Create a Bedtime Routine Before Crate Time

One of the most effective ways to teach a dog to heel is by creating a consistent bedtime routine. This includes regular crate time, exercise, and teaching your pup to stay in one spot for periods. You may want to start small and gradually increase the length of time they must stay still before allowing them to move again. Setting up a bedtime routine will help create a sense of structure and consistency, which is essential for any successful training.

Use Positive Reinforcement When Teaching How To Heel

Positive reinforcement is key in teaching your pup how to heel. When they get into the proper heel position or move in the desired direction, reward them with verbal praise and a treat. This will encourage your pup to keep up the good behavior. When they make mistakes, gently correct them and offer encouragement instead of punishing them.

Be Patient And Consistent

As with any training, it’s essential to be patient and consistent when teaching your pup how to heel. If you want them to learn quickly and effectively, practice the same commands and techniques every time. It might take some time for your pup to get it right, but with enough patience and repetition, they’ll eventually understand what is expected of them.


How long does it take for my dog to learn how to heel?

The time needed for training can vary depending on the breed of dog, but most dogs can learn to heel in a few weeks with consistent practice and patient reinforcement.

How do I start teaching my dog to heel?

The best way to begin is by using positive reinforcement such as dog treats, praise, or playtime when your pup follows your command correctly. You should also keep training sessions short, focusing on one task at a time during each session.

How important is consistency in teaching a dog to heel?

Consistency is key! All family members should use the same commands and reinforce them consistently throughout the training process. Provide consistent physical guidance, such as leading with your body while walking alongside your pup.

How often should I practice teaching my dog to heel?

Ideally, you should practice for a few minutes each session at least once daily. If your pup has difficulty with a particular command or step, it’s best to break it down into smaller steps and practice them more frequently until the desired result is achieved.

How do I keep my dog from pulling on the leash when walking?

Correct your pup by stopping in place every time he pulls ahead of you and waiting for him to look back and make eye contact before continuing. Once your pup understands that he needs to stay close to you to move forward, you can add verbal commands such as “heel” or “come.”

How do I get my dog to heel on command?

Start by having your pup follow a treat in your hand while walking and saying the word “heel” each time you move forward. Once your pup consistently follows the treat, start walking without it while regularly repeating the command until he learns to walk beside you without needing physical reinforcement.

How do I keep my puppy from jumping when teaching him how to heel?

When teaching a puppy how to heel, it’s essential to remain calm and patient. Every time he jumps up, he redirects his attention to something else, such as a chew toy or a treat. Eventually, your pup will learn that jumping is not acceptable when heeling.

How do I get my dog to walk off-leash?

When teaching your pup how to heel off-leash, it’s important to start with lots of practice and positive reinforcement while on a loose leash first. Once you’re confident that your dog understands the command and can stay close by consistently, you can take him for walks in a secure area without needing a leash.


Teaching your dog to heel can be valuable for you and your pup. It can keep them safe while walking on the street, help with obedience training, and make walks more enjoyable for everyone. Teaching this behavior is not too difficult as long as you have some patience and are prepared to do the work. We hope our guide has given you all the information you need to start. Be sure to practice regularly and reward your pup generously when they display good heeling behavior. With a bit of time and effort, you’ll have a well behaved dog who walks by your side perfectly every time.

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