How to Teach Dogs to Heel (Step-by-Step Video)

By 22nd September 2017Dog Training
how to teach dogs to heel

In this article, we’re going to show you how to teach dogs to heel.

Once you have taught your dog to walk to properly on his lead, heel training is a good additional discipline to teach him.

Heeling is most commonly used when you want to keep your dog close to you. This could be when you’re walking along a busy road or through an area that’s full of people.

Like most dog training principles, heel training it simple in theory but it can be difficult for your dog to master. Remember, a dog has twice as many legs as we do and their walking pace is naturally much faster than ours. As a result, he might have a hard time adjusting to a slower pace.

With all that being said, patience is a must!

How to Stop a Dog Pulling on the LeadOK, OK we admit it,

The training methods we write about here at Pet Checkers aren’t our own.

They are the positive re-enforcement methods of world renowned dog trainer, Victoria Stilwell.

You can find out about her on her website at or if you like her training methods like we do, you can buy her book from

Watch the Video Below to See How to Teach Dogs to Heel

It’s best to start heel training next to a long wall with your dog between you and the wall. That way he won’t get distracted by exciting smells and he will be much more likely to co-operate.

Also, start this training indoors if possible

Step One: Luring Your Dog to Heel

Start off by taking a piece of food and showing it to your dog. If he’s not motivated by food, work with something that motivates him, like his favorite toy.
Once you’ve got his attention, hold the food (or toy) in your left or right hand at hip height – whichever side you want him to heel on.
Walk forward for a few paces using the food as a lure to get your dog to follow you.
Once you’ve walked for 10 or 15 paces, stop and give him the treat and lots of praise.
Repeat this exercise several times, each time increasing the number of steps you take.

Step Two: Introduce the Vocal Cue

Now it’s time to add the vocal cue to the action. Say your dogs’ name followed by the word ‘Heel’ and tap your thigh to encourage him to follow you.
Use the treat as the lure to keep him by your side as you walk.
Once he’s responding consistently, only lure him with the treat every so often. But keep your hand by your side and use that as your lure.
If your dog moves ahead of you at any point, turn in the opposite direction, tap on your thigh and ask him to heel. Turning round means he has to focus his attention on you.
Every time he complies give him plenty of praise.
Try moving in different directions and ask him to heel as you go so he masters the cue in any direction.
When (and only when) he completely gets it and is responding reliably, take your heel training outside. Repeat this exercise several times, each time increasing the number of steps you take.

Heeling outside should only be done once your dog has mastered it indoors.

There are a lot of distractions outside and asking him to do it outside before he’s completely nailed it indoors is asking too much and will only set him up to fail.

Frequently Asked Questions

Teaching a dog to heel should (in theory) be relatively simple, providing they already walk well on the lead.

If your dog doesn’t have very good lead manners and pulls you around, teach him how to walk on his lead properly first.

If he does walk well but struggles to heel, here are some frequently asked questions;

“My Dog Wont Heel When We’re Out Walking, What Should I Do?”

Heeling takes a lot of impulse control. If your dog is too excited, try exercising him first and let him run around to get rid of some of that excited energy.

Also, don’t just go from heel training indoors where there are no distractions and then expect him to comply in a busy park that’s full of other dogs. Once he’s ‘got it’ indoors, take him to a quiet street and built up from there. Introduce more distractions gradually.

Leave a Comment Below!

So, we’ve shown you how to teach dogs to heel and now it’s your turn.

Have a go and leave a comment below to let us know how you get, or to ask a question.

We love hearing from our readers and we’ll respond to every comment.

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