Teaching your dog to heel has been described in some detail in the Puppy Training chapter, Lure/Reward Training and so please go back and review that section. Here, we shall present some additional tips.
Use food or toys in your left hand to lure your dog to heel on your left side. Each time before stopping, use your right arm (across the front of your body) to signal your dog to sit by your left side.
Practice short sit-heel-sit sequences in a straight line, then practice turns in place — sit-turn-sit and eventually, turns in motion. Slow down your dog (move your left hand lure backwards) before turning left but speed up your dog (move your left hand lure forward) before turning right.
It is really important to teach your dog to slow down (Steady) and to speed up (Hustle) on command. Forging ahead and lagging behind are the two major problems when heeling and of course, each is the antidote for the other. By teaching your dog to slow down and speed up on command you can prevent a lot of tight-leash walking and leash-jerks.
To teach your dog to slow down. Walk at a fast or normal pace and 1. Say, “Steady” 2. Immediately and dramatically reduce your speed so that 3. Your dog slows down to accommodate to your change in pace, and 4. Praise your dog. After half a dozen or so repetitions, your dog will anticipate that you are about to slow down whenever he hears you say, “Steady” and so, your dog learns that Steady means slow down.
To teach your dog to speed up: Walk at a slow or normal pace and 1. Say, “Hustle” 2. Immediately and dramatically increase your speed so that 3. Your dog speeds up to accommodate, and 4. Praise your dog. After half a dozen or so repetitions, your dog will anticipate that you are about to speed up whenever he hears you say, “Hustle” and so, your dog learns that Hustle means speed up.
Practice by frequently and randomly changing gears between fast, normal and slow when walking your dog in a straight line on sidewalks. Once you have taught your dog Hustle and Steady, walking your dog on leash will be so much more enjoyable for you, and for your dog. Also, Hustle is the solution to slow recalls. Shouting at your dog will usually make him slow down. I mean, who wants to hurry to a person who’s shouting at them. But if you say, “Hustle” at least your dog now knows that you would like him to speed up.