Train Your Dog to Heel Off Leash: Mastering Control and Mental Exercise

Are you tired of your dog pulling on the leash during walks? Do you want to add more control and mental exercise to your dog’s routine? Look no further than the “Heel” command. This command not only keeps your dog by your side but also promotes relaxation and drains their energy. In this article, we’ll explore the art of training your dog to heel off leash and discover why it’s a valuable skill for all dogs.

Understanding the Heel Command

“Heel” refers to walking directly beside you instead of ahead or behind. It involves your dog matching your pace, stopping when you stop, and walking when you walk. Maintaining this position requires discipline from your dog, as it means resisting the urge to sniff and explore. Although walking at a human pace may not be physically challenging for dogs, walking in the heel position engages their minds. By staying by your side, your dog remains relaxed and in a working state of mind. It also signifies that they are following your lead.

Victoria Stilwell’s Expert Tips

Renowned dog trainer Victoria Stilwell provides some effective tips for training your dog to heel. She suggests using food or toys as lures to teach your dog to follow. By holding the reward in your hand and moving forward, you encourage your dog to walk beside you. Praise and reward them when they respond correctly. Gradually increase the number of steps and reinforce the behavior by associating the cue word “heel” with the action. Stilwell also advises varying the routine, turning left and right to make the exercise more challenging. Remember to practice indoors before venturing outside where distractions abound.

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Dog Training

Finding the Balance

The question of how much time to spend heeling versus allowing free-sniff walks depends on personal preference and the guidance of a certified dog trainer. The key is that you, as the walker, determine when it’s time to heel or let your dog explore. Even during free-sniff time, your dog should not pull on the leash. It’s important to remember that you are in control and should guide the walk, not the other way around. For example, you can lead from behind, but don’t let your dog mistake it for a leading position. Find the balance that works for you and your dog, providing structured heeling between sniffing opportunities.

Embrace Enjoyable Walks

Walking your dog should be a pleasurable experience for both of you. If it feels like a chore, you’ll be less likely to do it regularly, leading to other behavioral issues. Enjoyable walks result in more frequent outings, bigger smiles, and wagging tails. Make sure to choose locations where both you and your dog can have fun. Consider participating in local dog walk events like Collar Club, where you can socialize your dog, meet fellow dog enthusiasts, and even learn more about teaching your dog to heel.

Join Us for Collar Club!

This Fall, Rover-Time customers and their friends will gather at Horner Park for a group dog walk. These walks provide a unique opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and practice obedience training in public. It’s a chance for your dog to become the best they can be while enjoying the company of other dogs. Plus, it’s an excellent opportunity to refine their heeling skills.

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Do you have any questions about training your dog to walk on a leash? Leave a comment below and let us help you troubleshoot.

AND JOIN US FOR COLLAR CLUB! Pet professionals will be present during the walks to assist in solving any dog walking challenges you may face. It’s also a fantastic chance to meet new friends and neighbors who share your love for dogs.

Interested in dog walking services in Chicago? Contact us today at Karen’s Kollars or visit our Home Page for more information!

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Julia Rohan, the founder of Rover-Time, established the company in 2012 after receiving formal training at FetchFind Academy. She resides in Irving Park with her husband and their two beloved companions, their 3-year-old son, and an 8lb. Chihuahua-Terrier mix named Chauncey Billups Vanderhoff. Together, they experience priceless moments that warm Julia’s heart daily.