The "heel" command is a formal obedience exercise in which a dog walks precisely by a handler's knee, matching her pace and immediately sitting when the handler halts. Your four-legged friend should know this valuable obedience exercise-for your sake and his.
This is the formal thing to do. :) Do most people want their dog to heel? no.. They simply want their dog to walk with a loose leash. BUT teaching a heel is very valuable.
1. useful for agility training when you want your dog in close to you.
2. useful for walking through crowds and on busy streets
3. useful for when you are walking your dog off-leash and need your dog to stay really close to you.
A dog walking at heel is staying close, paying close attention, and is right beside you.
So just how do you teach a dog to walk at heel?
1. get your dogs attention, get your dog to watch you and pay attention to you. There are different ways to do this. Get your dogs attention by calling his name, tapping on his head, making noises or any other way you can think of. This is a command in and of itself.
2. teach your dog where to stand. For most people a heel is having your dog stand with their head at your left knee (or hip/ankle) depending on the size of the dog. he's to stay in that position regardless of how fast you move or in which direction you move in. NOW.. for agility folks...you might want to teach your dog to heel on both sides as it's a useful tool to have. :) have a different command for each side. Me...I always taught my dog to walk on my right side as that's what worked for me. Doesn't really matter as long as you teach them to do so consistently.
3. Once your dog is in position. Say Rover (or whatever the dogs name is) HEEL. and start walking forward. When the dog starts with you. Stop and praise him! Treat him with food. And then try again. Practice is key.
4. gradually increase the length of time you walk with him before treating him.
If your dog starts to forge ahead, a good trick to correct that is to turn around calling your dogs name and walk in the opposite direction.
some people will do this:
When he tries to forge ahead, turn sharply and step directly in his path, making a 90 degree turn and heading off in a new direction. Once again, turn sharply, as if walking along a square. The dog will be used to leading you, and may be surprised or confused. Walk in a straight line again, until the dog tries to forge past you. Pull the same stunt. Doing this for 5-15 minutes a day is enough. Some dogs learn after the first session, but some dogs who have been used to leading you for years may take longer. This lesson will teach your dog that YOU are the one who knows where you are going, and not him.:
there are sites on-line to teach you how to train your dog to heel, I hope this has given you a start. :)
Teaching a dog to come, or teaching a good recall, is a tool that EVERY dog and owner should have in their tool box.
As with all training, proof it. As in, do in anywhere and everywhere, all the time. Noise, busy streets, quiet bushes, bustling people, just walking randomly etc. Fido come! Fido, what a good dog! Reward! :)
A PDF on using a clicker training method of teaching Come.
Other resources you may find helpful:
I was out browsing the blogosphere... and learned something...something that I think is fairly basic, isn't. Some folks don't know how to teach a dog to sit. So I thought, okay... why not do a series on some of the basics of dog training. Things like sit, come, stay, down, loose leash walking and so forth.
So Let's start today with the SIT!
When properly taught and executed, the sit command can keep your dog out of trouble and can build up its confidence.
The goal: for the dog to park it's butt on the floor with it's head up (preferably looking at you).
How to achieve this goal depends on your methodology. Since I'm not a clicker trainer, I won't go there. Since I'm not a total into force person, I won't do that either. I do what works.
Find out what motives your dog. food? toy? verbal praise? What makes your dog happy?
For my first couple of dogs - food glorious food. That's what they wanted the most of. So for food motivated dogs, take the cookie, call your dog toward you, as they get really close to you start moving the cookie up a bit. Dog will put it's butt on the ground as it looks up at the cookie. Trick to this is don't move the cookie up too fast or it will encourage the dog to jump up. Don't move too slowly or it will be tempted to grab it. AS SOON AS the dogs butt hits the ground say sit, good dog. give the cookie. repeat a few times. :)
With some dogs you may need to add a slight tap or push on the hind end ... don't get into the habit of doing this, but for some dogs it helps. :)
For my current dog, food has to be really really good for there to be solid interest, but a ball...wow mom!!!! it's a ball!!!!! can I have it??? can I can I? So do the ball thing like you would a cookie/food treat. then do what works for your dog. for my sassy I would just hand her the ball, I've worked with other dogs where they sat, I tossed the ball just a short distance. YEAH!! hey...let's try that again. :)
Practice that every where you can, at home, on the street, around children playing, with strange noises going on and so forth. You want the sit to be a really really reliable command.
Decide what sort of hand signal you want to use with it. I use my right hand and cup it in a upward motion against my belly. What way if you can't talk for some reason but can get your dog's attention you can still maintain some order if it's needed. Others I've seen do a hand up in the air. Figure out what works for you.
Gradually you will want to add some distance. i.e. call fido to you, then as fido comes say sit! (yes, fido will be confused, but hey...fido's learning, be patient).
Other sites you may find helpful:
For a hint on Clicker training a sit, go here.