dog Heeling

How To Teach a Dog to Heel: Step-by-Step Guide 2023

Are you looking for the best way to teach your dog to heel? Heeling is an important skill for all dogs, as it helps them stay safe, stay close to their owners, and follow directions. With this step-by-step guide, you will learn the best techniques for teaching your dog to heel in 2023. 

From the basic commands to the more advanced techniques, you’ll have your dog heeling like a pro in no time. So let’s get started!

Start in a Quiet Area

When training your dog to heel, it’s important to begin in a quiet area away from distractions. If possible, start in an enclosed area such as your backyard or another fenced-in space. This way, you can ensure that your pup stays focused on the task at hand and isn’t drawn away by other sights and sounds. 

When starting, have your pup on a short leash so that you can quickly correct any mistakes or misbehavior. Before beginning the heel command, take a few moments to let your pup become familiar with the area and adjust to the leash. Once your pup is relaxed, you’re ready to begin!

Position your dog

When it comes to training your dog to heel, the first step is to make sure you have your dog in the proper position. You want them to be in a standing position, with their shoulder blades in line with your legs. 

You want them to be close enough that you can hold onto their collar or harness. Make sure you have their full attention and that they are looking directly at you. If they start to move away, gently guide them back into the correct position. Once they are in the correct position, you can begin teaching them to heel.

Say “heel”

Once you and your dog are in the correct position, it is time to introduce the verbal cue “heel”. To start, you should say “heel” clearly and consistently, while gently pulling on the leash. When your dog is following beside you, reward them with praise or a treat. If they stray too far away from you, continue to use verbal commands to get them back into place. 

Keep repeating this process until your dog begins to understand the verbal cue. This should be repeated multiple times and in various settings to help reinforce the behavior.

Walk Forward

Once your dog is in the correct position and you have said “heel,” begin to walk forward. You should be standing slightly ahead of your dog with your arm slightly outstretched in front of you. It is important to keep a consistent pace as you walk forward, so your dog will learn to stay by your side at a set speed. 

If your dog begins to veer off to the side or get distracted, stop and make sure they are in the correct position before continuing. Additionally, make sure to reward your pup with praise, a treat, or both each time they stay at your side. This will help reinforce the behavior and ensure they understand what you expect of them.

Reward Good Behavior

When your dog follows the heel command correctly, it’s important to reward them. This helps to reinforce their understanding of the command and ensures they will be motivated to repeat it in the future.

The best reward for dogs is a treat or a favorite toy, but praise can be just as effective. When you reward your dog, try to do so calmly and consistently, as this will ensure they know they are being rewarded for doing the right thing.

Also, try to avoid praising them too much; a few positive words and some physical contact should be enough. Too much attention can make your dog distracted and confused, so it’s best to keep rewards short and sweet.

By rewarding your dog for correctly following the heel command, you’ll be able to quickly and effectively teach them this user behavior.

Increase The Distance

Once your dog has mastered following you at close range, it’s time to start increasing the distance. Take your dog out for a walk, and if they get distracted by something, simply stop walking and wait for them to come back to you. 

As they come back, say “heel” and start walking again. Repeat this process of stopping and starting until your dog is following you closely at a greater distance. Make sure to reward your dog for its good behavior with treats or praise. 

You can also use a longer leash to practice heeling in a more controlled environment. Start by giving your dog plenty of slack and then calling them to come back when they wander off. As soon as they turn around, give the command “heel” and take a few steps forward. If they follow you, reward them with a treat or verbal praise. As your dog gets better at following you, slowly decrease the amount of slack in the leash so that your dog is walking closer to you. 

You can also use different types of distractions to help your dog focus on you. Have someone else walk with you while holding a treat or toy, or have someone make noise nearby. The goal is to train your dog to stay focused on you no matter what kind of distraction they may encounter. With practice, your dog will learn to heel at any distance and in any situation!

Add Distractions

Once your dog has mastered the basic heel command, it’s time to add in some distractions. Distractions can come in many forms such as other people, dogs, kids, cars, bikes, etc. The key is to only add one distraction at a time and not move on to the next level until the dog is comfortable with the current one.

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Begin by introducing one distraction and making sure the dog can stay focused on you and the heel command. As soon as he does, reward him with treats or verbal praise. Keep repeating this process until the dog can heel despite the distractions present.

Once your dog is used to one distraction, you can begin to introduce a second one while remaining at a safe distance. Again, focus on reinforcing good behavior when the dog can stay focused and pay attention to your commands.

As your pup gets better and better at handling different distractions, you can then start to increase the number of distractions present or move closer to them. Continue to slowly increase the level of difficulty until your pup can heel no matter how many distractions are present.

Why is it Important to Teach Your Dog to Heel?

Training your dog to heel is an essential part of any dog’s education. Heeling is the behavior of walking close to your side and responding to your commands. Teaching your dog to heel will not only make your walks together more enjoyable, but it will also help keep your dog safe when you’re out and about.

When you are teaching your dog to heel, it’s important to be consistent and reward positive behavior. This helps reinforce the behavior and keeps it from becoming an issue in the future. 

Heeling also teaches your dog to trust you and strengthens the bond between you and your pet. 

Additionally, heeling can help prevent your pup from getting into trouble in the first place. 

By staying close to you and responding to your commands, they won’t have the opportunity to wander off or get into any mischief. Heeling also provides a structure to your walk, making it easier to control your pup and know where they are at all times. 

Heeling is a valuable skill that all dogs should learn. It will ensure that your walks together are more enjoyable, while also helping to keep your pup safe and secure.


Training your dog to heel is an important part of having a well-behaved and obedient pet. Teaching your pup to respond to the command “heel” will make your walks and hikes more enjoyable, and it can also keep your dog safe when encountering other people or animals. 

With patience and consistent practice, you can successfully teach your pooch to stay by your side and walk at a steady pace. Remember to be patient, use positive reinforcement, and keep your sessions short and fun. With time and dedication, you can ensure that your dog becomes a responsible, well-mannered companion.