Teaching Your Dog to Heel in Medford, Oregon: A Journey of Patience and Fun

When I first started training dogs, the concept of teaching a dog to heel seemed like a monumental task. But as time went on, I realized that it's more about the journey and the bond you build with your furry friend. Let's dive into the world of heeling and see how you can turn your walks into a seamless, enjoyable experience.

Understanding Heeling vs. Loose Leash Walking

First things first, let's clear up a common misconception. Many dog owners think that heeling and loose leash walking are the same, but they're not.

Definition of Heeling

Heeling is an active behavior where the dog maintains a position by your side, often looking up at you, and sits when you stop.

Definition of Loose Leash Walking

Loose leash walking, on the other hand, is more relaxed. The dog can wander a bit as long as the leash remains slack.

The Benefits of Teaching Your Dog to Heel

Teaching your dog to heel comes with a plethora of benefits. Here are a few:

  • Improved Control: A dog that heels is easier to manage, especially in crowded or busy areas.
  • Enhanced Communication: Heeling fosters better communication between you and your dog, strengthening your bond.
  • Safer Outings: A heeling dog is less likely to dart into traffic or get into mischief, making your outings safer.

When to Use Heeling and When to Use Loose Leash Walking

Knowing when to use each technique can make your walks more enjoyable.

Casual Walks vs. Formal Settings

For a leisurely stroll through the park, loose leash walking is fine. But in formal settings like a farmers market or a busy street, heeling is more appropriate.

Building a Strong Foundation

Teaching heel starts with a strong relationship. Your dog needs to trust and respect you.

Importance of Relationship and Connection

Engagement exercises can help build this connection, ensuring your dog is attentive.

The Mechanics of Teaching Heel

Proper reward placement is crucial. Rewards should come from the hand closest to the dog. Both you and your dog need to be aware of your body positions to maintain a proper heel.

Reward Placement

**Body Consciousness**

Step-by-Step Guide to Teaching Heel

Ready to get started? Follow these steps to teach your dog to heel:

Initial Engagement Exercises

Start with basic engagement exercises to get your dog’s attention.

Introducing the Heel Command

Introduce the command in a quiet, distraction-free environment.

Practicing in Different Environments

Gradually practice in more distracting environments as your dog gets better.

Common Challenges and Solutions

If your dog loses focus, go back to a less distracting environment.

Dog Losing Focus

  • Inconsistent Performance: Consistency is key. Practice regularly to maintain progress.
  • Overcoming Distractions: Use high-value treats to overcome distractions during training.

Using Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement through treats and praise is essential for teaching heel.

Treats and Praise

Stay consistent and patient. Training takes time, but the results are worth it.

Consistency and Patience

The Role of Professional Training

Professional training classes can provide structure and expert guidance.

Benefits of Professional Classes

Our four-week basic obedience class covers both loose leash walking and heeling, ensuring you get the best of both worlds.

Overview of Prodogz Dog Training Program

Incorporating the Finish Command

The finish command teaches your dog to get into the heel position, enhancing their obedience.

Definition and

Steps to Teach the Finish

Breaking down the concept into smaller steps can make learning the finish command easier for your dog. Here's how to do it:

  1. Start with your dog in a heel position at your side. Hold a treat near your dog's nose, then slowly move it backward towards your hip. As your dog follows the treat with their head and body, praise them and give them the treat when they reach the desired heel position.
  2. Gradually fade out the lure (the treat) as your dog gets the hang of it. Replace the treat with a verbal cue like "finish" or a hand signal like a closed fist next to your hip.
  3. Practice the finish command in different locations and with varying distractions. This will help your dog learn to perform the behavior consistently.

Maintaining the Heel Behavior

Regular Practice

Just like any skill, maintaining a good heel requires consistent practice. Schedule short training sessions throughout the day to keep your dog sharp.

Adjusting as the Dog Learns

As your dog progresses, you can gradually decrease the frequency of treats and increase the distance between you and your dog while practicing the heel. This keeps things challenging and interesting for your dog.

Personal Anecdote (continued)

Remember Max, the dog who used to heel with his nose glued to my knee? Well, after we mastered the finish command, things got even more interesting. One day, while walking through [Park Name] in Medford, Max got a little too excited by a squirrel. He started to pull, but then, as if remembering his training, he stopped, spun around, and perfectly assumed the finish position right by my side. I couldn't help but burst out laughing! It was a testament to his newfound understanding of the heel and finish commands, and it solidified the importance of consistent training.



Teaching your dog to heel is a rewarding experience that strengthens your bond and makes walks more enjoyable for everyone. Remember, patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement are key. Don't get discouraged if your dog doesn't get it right away. Celebrate small victories and keep practicing.

Ready to transform your walks from a tug-of-war to a victory lap? Here at Prodogz Dog Training in Medford, Oregon, we can help! Our trainers use positive reinforcement methods to teach your dog loose leash walking, heeling, and other essential commands.

Take the next step:

  • Browse our website to learn more about our dog training programs.
  • Call Jason at 541-608-2857 to schedule a private training session for you and your furry friend.
  • Check out our class schedule to see when our next basic obedience class starts.

Happy Training!

FAQs (continued)

How long does it take to teach a dog to heel?

This depends on your dog's breed, age, and learning style. With consistent practice, most dogs can learn the basics of heeling within a few weeks. However, refining the behavior and achieving perfect consistency may take longer.

What breeds are easiest to train to heel?

Generally, breeds known for their intelligence and eagerness to please, like Border Collies and German Shepherds, are easier to train. However, with patience and positive reinforcement, any dog can learn to heel.

Can older dogs learn to heel?

Absolutely! Older dogs are often more food motivated and eager to learn new things. Just be patient and keep training sessions short and positive.

What should I do if my dog refuses to heel?

Don't get frustrated. Go back to basics and practice in a low-distraction environment. Make sure you're using high-value treats and clear communication (both verbal and body language). Consider seeking help from a professional dog trainer if you're struggling.

Is professional training necessary for teaching heel?

While not necessary, professional training can be incredibly helpful. A qualified trainer can provide personalized guidance, troubleshoot any challenges you're facing, and ensure you're using the most effective training methods.

We hope this comprehensive guide has equipped you with the knowledge and resources to teach your dog to heel. Remember, a well-trained dog is a happy dog, and a happy dog makes for a more enjoyable life for both of you!