A Different Way to Teach Heel


There are many ways to teach a dog how to heel. I have chosen to work on back end awareness with my dog, Loker, by teaching him to rotate his behind around an object while standing on the object (see “Forming the Perfect Heel“) This helps him learn to recognize his back end and learn how to move it independently of his front as dogs are not born knowing how to do that. He will use this skill to move around correctly in the heel position.

Another way to teach heel is to teach the dog to go to that position in the beginning. One video I watched recently, the trainer was teaching a 5 month old puppy the correct heel position. What I found most creative was that she made a spot on her leg a target for the dog’s nose. I can see how this would be a great way to build muscle memory. Targeting is when a dog puts his paw or nose on a certain object. Also, she only rewarded when the dogs back end was in the correct position for a heel so with practice the dog will learn to move his behind around to the correct spot.

Other back end awareness exercises include: balancing on a large exercise ball, learning to back up, and targeting something with a back paw.