How to Train Your Older Dog to Heel (2024)

Hello,Check out the article I have linked below and the Turns method. You can use this method without giving treats, just praise. The main way that this method works is your speed changes and turns teach pup that they need to pay attention to where you are going and stay with you. If pup tends to pull ahead of you, then pay special attention to the step where you turn directly in front of pup at a ninety degree angle as soon as his nose starts to move past your leg. Timing here is important. Pup will probably run into your leg at first, and this will probably feel awkward in the beginning. As pup starts to hang back and watch you more closely after being cut in front of several times, the turns should get easier to complete though.Start this somewhere open, like your yard, a field, or empty cul-de-sac, instead of a straight sidewalk, until pup has built a habit of watching you better.With a highly distracted dog it will be super important to work up to lots of distractions gradually. Pup probably has too much stimuli to really focus and learn on a normal walk right now - squirrels, other walkers, continuous new scents, continuous new sounds and sights, other dogs, leaves blowing, bugs, ect...For a highly distracted dog a normal walk can be a lot. Start somewhere boring, like an open empty field, yard, or empty cul-de-sac to help pup learn the training basics without all the extra stimuli. Once pup is consistent in that environment, then gradually add in intentional distractions. When you are ready to tackle places like side walks again, then instead of one straight long walk, imagine a + and choose areas where you can walk down the street south a little, then the opposite way north for a bit, then east at an intersection, then west. Basically only cover a short amount of distance in a particular direction then go the other way and keep repeating that, so pup's environment isn't changing as much while practicing some straight sidewalks again. Doing it this way also keeps pup from assuming that they know where you are headed - which can lead to pup just tuning you out because they don't need you to lead. If you keep pup guessing at first, pup is more likely to learn that they better KEEP paying attention because you might change directions on them unexpectantly.Thresholds: article - The turns method: Video: pup is pulling as soon as you exit your front door, then work on thresholds too. How you start the walk will effect what happens next.A breed like a Malinois tends to benefit from the mental stimulation and exercise that incorporating training into the walk and keeping pup guessing provides. You might find pup is a lot calmer after that type of training walk than a typical one.Best of luck training,Caitlin Crittenden

March 3, 2022

Greetings, canine enthusiasts! I'm thrilled to dive into the article you've shared and shed some light on the Turns method for training dogs, particularly focusing on the heel command. Allow me to establish my credentials: I'm an avid dog behavior and training enthusiast with years of hands-on experience. I've worked with various breeds and temperaments, from highly distractible pups to those needing extra mental stimulation, much like the Malinois mentioned in the article.

The Turns method, as outlined in the Wag Walking article by Caitlin Crittenden, is a valuable tool for teaching dogs to walk beside their owners without the need for treats, relying solely on praise. Let's break down the key concepts discussed in the article:

Turns Method:

  1. Purpose: The primary goal of the Turns method is to teach a dog to pay attention to its owner's movements, especially during turns, fostering a closer and more controlled walk.

  2. Technique:

    • Speed Changes: Altering your walking speed keeps the pup engaged and attentive.
    • Turns at Ninety Degrees: Turning directly in front of the pup at a ninety-degree angle reinforces the need for attention. Timing is crucial, and this may initially result in the pup running into your leg.
  3. Gradual Progression:

    • Open Spaces: Initiate the training in open areas like yards or fields before transitioning to more distracting environments.
    • Distraction Gradation: For highly distracted dogs, introduce intentional distractions gradually once the pup is consistent in a controlled environment.

Training in Boring Environments:

  1. Starting Point: Initiate training in open, less stimulating environments to help the pup grasp the basics before introducing distractions.
  2. Short Distances and Direction Changes: Instead of long straight walks, follow a pattern resembling a plus sign (+) by changing directions frequently. This keeps the pup guessing and prevents them from assuming the route.

Threshold Training:

  1. Importance: Training at thresholds, as discussed in the video link provided, is emphasized. The beginning of the walk sets the tone for the rest of the outing.

Additional Insights:

  1. Highly Distracted Dogs: Acknowledgment of the challenges posed by distractions such as squirrels, other walkers, scents, sounds, and sights. Gradual exposure to stimuli is recommended.

  2. Breed-Specific Considerations:

    • Malinois Example: Certain breeds, like the Malinois, benefit from the mental stimulation derived from training walks. Incorporating training and keeping the pup guessing can result in a calmer demeanor.

Additional Resources:

  1. Thresholds Video: A linked video offers visual insights into threshold training.

  2. Heel Command Article and Video: The Wag Walking article provides a comprehensive guide to training a poodle to heel, supplemented by a video demonstrating the technique.

In conclusion, the Turns method, when employed with an understanding of thresholds and considering individual dog breeds and temperaments, proves to be a powerful tool for cultivating a well-behaved and attentive walking companion. Happy training!

How to Train Your Older Dog to Heel (2024)


How to Train Your Older Dog to Heel? ›

Next, start to say the word “heel” right before you take your first step. So you'll say “heel,” take a step, then feed a treat at heel position when your dog steps forward with you. After feeding the treat, pause for a moment, then click or praise your dog.

How do you teach an older dog to heel? ›

Start inside the house and walk around a spacious room or up and down a hallway. Call your dog's name and point to the side that you want him to walk on (whichever side you choose but left is in the traditional heel side). As soon as your dog comes alongside you, use a clicker or say “yes,” then reward.

Is it too late to teach my dog to heel? ›

It is never too late to teach a dog a new command. That includes how to heel. No matter how old your dog might be, he or she should be able to learn this command.

How do I stop my older dog from pulling on the lead? ›

Place something on the floor that your dog would really like to get to, such as a toy. If your dog pulls on the lead to get towards the toy, stop and call them towards you. Their reward for walking on a loose lead is getting to the toy. This way, the dog learns that pulling just slows things down.

What is the command to heel a dog? ›

The goal of “Heel” training is to teach your puppy to follow alongside the heel of your foot on the side they are walking on. While walking forward or, changing directions you will give the command “Heel” to your puppy to keep them alongside you.

Can you train an older dog to walk to heel? ›

Can you teach an older dog to walk to heel? Yes, you can. It might take a little longer, but even the most stubborn dog can be taught to heel with the right training.

How do I train my dog to walk beside me? ›

Reward them with a treat or some fuss when they sit still or stand by your side. Next start to walk slowly in a straight line. Reward your dog whenever they are by your side, and when they remain by your side consistently, start to increase the time and distance between rewards.

What is the heel command? ›

The command or skill "heel" simply means that the dog must walk directly next to you instead of behind or in front of you. The dog is required to keep pace with you, only stopping when you stop and walking when you walk.

Why does my dog not walk to heel? ›

A dog that fails to walk to heel is usually pulling hard on the leash because he's keen to get to the park. In the dog's mind, pulling is rewarded by getting where he wants to go. The idea behind this method is to teach the dog that pulling only delays arrival, and therefore it's better to walk to heel.

Should a dog heel the entire walk? ›

In "heeling," your dog walks right next to you, keeps your pace, and doesn't walk in front of you, all with a loose and slack leash. You don't have to keep your dog in a heel position through the entire walk, since a walk should be a time when your dog can sniff and look around the environment.

What lead is best for a dog that pulls? ›

EzyDog Zero Shock Dog Lead

Whether your dog only pulls occasionally, or their pulls are incredibly strong, this EzyDog Zero Shock Dog Lead is excellent for absorbing the shock, making you much less prone to injuries.

How do you punish a dog for pulling on a leash? ›

One punishment for pulling on the lead is to tighten the strap of a head collar or a training harness.

What is the hardest dog command? ›

The Hardest Tricks to Teach Your Dog
  • Clean Up. ...
  • Army Crawling. ...
  • Give A Kiss. ...
  • Walking Backwards. ...
  • Cleaning Paws. ...
  • Go To The Toilet. ...
  • Play Fetch. ...
  • Peekaboo. Last but certainly not least, another difficult but certainly adorable trick that you can train dogs to do is playing peekaboo.

Is it OK to let my dog sniff on walks? ›

If you give your dog a chance to explore its surroundings through smell, they will enjoy going on walks more. Rover will be more mentally stimulated, gain confidence, and in the end be more tired and relaxed.

Is it OK to let your dog walk in front of you? ›

Your pup should walk wherever is best for you and your relationship. Every dog is different, and what works best for one may not be suitable for another. The key is to establish trust, respect, and clear communication with your pup.


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