This is an Ask Strategy. It teaches your dog that good things happen when they walk next to you. A heel command can help distract a nervous or reactive dog from getting worked up.
The Goal of Heel
Teach your dog to walk next to you on command. Great for getting your dog to focus during scary or overly stimulating situations — when you see the cigarette butt, or “Scary” person approaching, ask your dog to Touch Your Hand, to focus his attention on you instead of “that thing.”
How to Teach Your Dog to Heel
- While on leash, turn your back to your dog.
- Put your right hand across your body and down to your left knee, with your palm facing back. Your palm should be facing your dog.
- Say your dog’s name and the word “Heel”
- When your dog Touches Your Hand, say “YES!”
- Take a few steps forward! (This is the part where they learn to Heel!)
- Now put your hand back down into the same position and give your dog a treat!
Hide a treat under your thumb so your dog can smell but not see the treat.
Keep walking forward when treating. You want your dog to learn that moving forward with you is what gets him the treat.
This is a great game for fearful/shy dogs to pass by potentially tense situations or to distract overly curious dogs from picking up something gross off of the sidewalk.
Do not treat on the first hand touch. By treating on the second hand touch your dog learns to stay by your side (heel) and walk with you in order to receive a reward!
Change it up: Reactive and shy dogs should learn to switch sides and heel on the Left or the Right side on your command.
Bring treats with you on walks and ask your dog to Heel at your side and focus on you instead of anything else!