How To: Teach Your Dog To Heel When You Walk

By Michael Albee

Teach Your Dog To Heel

How Do You Teach Your Dog To Heel (not pull on the lead while walking) is one of the most common asked questions that dog owner have.

Through the years I have tried ideas from at least 10 different professional trainers. Most have worked to varying degrees but the following method has worked well for me over the years. I do used other methods beside this one, but this method is very effective in the long run.


Teach Your Dog to Heel

To Begin, put your dog on a short (3 to 4 foot) leash. Situate your dog so that it is next to your left leg. Make your dog is sitting or standing with its head directly next to your left knee. Wait until your dog is calm before proceeding. This will be referred to on this page as the “original spot”.

When your dog is calm, begin the session by taking one single short step forward. As you do, give slight tension pulling forward on the leash. When the dog begins to move release any tension on the leash so that you are not pulling your dog. When your dog takes one (and only one) step, stop and praise it. You may also give your dog a small treat if you wish.

If your dog takes more than one step, re-set the session to the original spot and begin again.

When the dog is able to take only one step at a time, move to two steps. Then take three and so on. Remember to praise and reward your dog when it does the training correctly. Remember, take it slow!

You may only get one or two steps in during the first few sessions. That’s OK. If you are patient your dog WILL get the message. When you can get to three or four steps, add the verbal command “HEEL” as you begin to move forward. Until this point, (three or four steps) it is better not to say ANYTHING at all. 

Some dogs will figure this out within a few minutes. Others may need three or four sessions. Still others may take a day or so to figure it out. No matter what, each time the dog takes the correct number of steps and stops next to you, reward it for staying in position next to your leg.

If the dog goes too far or breaks formation calmly stop and go back to the original spot. Place your dog back to your side and start again.


Rewards such as Verbal Praise, Treats or Tactile Rewards (Physical Petting) will help your dog learn that his action causes good things to occur. If you do not want to use treats as a reward, feel free to substitute your dog’s favorite toy.


As with all training, keep your sessions short. Training sessions should be kept to 2-5 minutes in length and repeat these sessions 2-5 times per day. Finish each session with your dog correctly doing a behavior.

Always do something that your dog likes to do when the session ends. Playing with the dog’s favorite toy or going for a walk will keep your dog interested in training. Because there is a “fun time” following the training, it will make the dog more willing to train well.


There are several variations of this training that will get the same results. If you need help teaching your dog you can contact us and we can give personal instruction. Contact Us.

Find Us on Facebook

“Teaching Your Dog To “Heel” Will Make Walking Much More Fun For Both Of You”