One of the most important and most common mistakes made by new dog owners is their lack of concern for obedience training. Every dog should be taught some basic commands for their owners' safety and peace of mind. Some of the more important and easiest to teach are sit, stay, heel, and come. This article will outline the basic steps needed to teach your dog to walk beside you, making exercise an enjoyable experience for both you and the dog.
Heeling is an essential skill for dogs of all sizes to master. There is nothing more annoying and dangerous than a dog that pulls wildly on the leash and is out of control. Heeling is an easy skill to teach your dog and puts you well on your way developing a good relationship with your pet.
To get started, you must have the proper equipment. For the best results, purchase either a halter or a prong training collar. The decision for which method you choose should lie with what type of dog you have. Dogs that are larger, more powerful and willful will probably benefit from the prong training collar, while smaller, more delicate dogs would do well with a halter. Either method you choose, understand that the training device is not for disciplinary purposes, but as training aids.
Now, one you have your dog fitted with the training aid of your choice, take him to a quiet, large, unobstructed room in your house and have him stand on your left side, holding his lead across your body in your right hand. This will be your starting position. Take one step forward and say "heel" firmly but gently, and praise your dog when he takes one step beside you. Repeat this process over and over for ten minutes, focusing on praising correct behaviors and ignoring bad ones. Food rewards for consistent performance is a good motivator for your dog and keeps him interested in the lesson at hand. Take a break and have fun with your dog for thirty minutes before attempting another training session. Gradually increase your training area to include other parts of the house. As soon as your dog has mastered the command indoors, move him to the front yard. Apply the same principles as above.
In order to be successful, keep the following tips in mind:
- Be patient
- Do not discipline
- Keep your lessons short
- Praise and reward
If you keep these principles in mind, your dog will be the envy on the neighborhood in no time.