How To Train Your English Shepherd Dog to Heel

Dog Situation

You have a young puppy that you would like to train to walk calmly by your side, without pulling on the leash or wandering off. This behavior is commonly referred to as “heeling.” Teaching your puppy to heel can make walks more enjoyable and can also be a valuable skill for more advanced training later on.

Dog Behaviors

The puppy may exhibit behaviors such as pulling on the leash, trying to explore the environment, getting distracted by other dogs, people, or smells, and not paying attention to your cues. These behaviors are normal for a puppy, and it’s important to be patient and consistent during the training process.

Trainer Recommendation

How To Train Your Dog to Heel

  1. Begin in a low-distraction environment

    Begin in a low-distraction environment, such as a quiet room or your backyard.

  2. Place the puppy on a leash

    Place the puppy on a leash, with the collar or harness positioned properly.

  3. Hold a treat in your hand

    Hold a treat in your hand and let the puppy smell it, so they know it’s there.

  4. Hold the leash in your right hand

    Stand with the puppy on your left side, and hold the leash in your right hand.

  5. Start walking forward

    Start walking forward, using a verbal cue like “heel” or “let’s go.” Keep the treat in your left hand close to your left leg.

  6. Click and reward

    As the puppy follows your left leg and stays close to you, click the clicker and provide the treat as a reward.

  7. Increase the distance

    Gradually increase the distance you walk before rewarding the puppy. This will encourage them to maintain the heel position for longer periods.

  8. Practice regularly

    Practice this exercise regularly, gradually introducing more distractions, such as other people, dogs, or noises. This will help your puppy learn to maintain the heel position in various situations.

  9. Stop walking and redirect if needed

    If the puppy starts to pull or wander, stop walking and redirect their attention back to you. You can use a treat or a toy to regain their focus. Once they are back in the heel position, resume walking and reward the puppy for following your cue.

Results/Consequences

By consistently practicing the heel exercise, your puppy will learn to walk calmly by your side, making walks more enjoyable for both of you. This skill can also be a foundation for more advanced training, such as obedience or agility training. Additionally, teaching your puppy to heel can help prevent potential accidents or injuries caused by pulling on the leash or wandering off in potentially dangerous situations.

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Tony Bierman, "How To Train Your English Shepherd Dog to Heel," OBTESA, Accessed April 20, 2024, http://esbt.us/ex.