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Heeling. With acknowledgement to Paul Anderson.UK.

Aim: To teach the dog to follow your left hand. C/T = Click and Treat

Equipment: Tasty food in the left hand and Clicker in the right hand. Instead of the Clicker you can say, “Yes” and treat.


Dog sitting in front:


  1. Present your left fist, which is holding a single tasty treat, to the dog and let him touch your hand with his nose. Click, open your hand and treat the dog. “Good Girl/Boy!” Repeat 8-10times each day until you get a nice strong touch.
  2. Do not always reward the first touch, but let the dog touch your hand a second and later even a third time before you C/T.
  3. Next the dog must reach to touch your hand that is moved low to your left, to your right, between the legs, behind and all around you before you C/T. Let the dog move close to you between the legs and give a nice touch before rewarding.
  4. Lift the left hand to a height above the dog’s head so that he can learn to move under your hand. Next move your arm about in a large circle to let the dog follow and touch your hand that is held to your left and away from your body.

For a very good touch he earns a “jackpot” i.e. all the food in your hand.


Treat changes to the Right Hand:


  1. Move the tidbit to your right hand and show the empty left hand to the dog. The dog sees the food in the right hand and may want to jump up to get it. Raise your hand to avoid this. Jumping up is not a solution. The dog must continue to touch you left hand in order to get the reward kept in the right hand. Present your left hand to him and C/T when his nose touches your left hand. “Good Girl/Boy!”
  2. Reward only at random and multiple touches of the left hand. When the dog touches the left hand consistently we start heel exercises on the move.

Heeling on the move:


  1. Transfer the food back to the left hand to make it easier for the dog to learn to heel on the move. While standing, hold your left hand above the dog’s head and lead him in circles to the right and left. Reward as before. The dog is still away from your body and not yet in the close Heel position.
  2. With the food in your left hand, move it past the dog’s nose and start walking away from him in a straight line.The dog will follow you and will attempt to touch the left hand which is held to your left at a convenient hight for the dog to touch. After a good touch C/T. Continue this exercise for a week or two while walking about. 
  3. Now again transfer the food to your right hand as before and reward as soon as the left hand is touched. Pretty soon you will find that you not only control the dog’s head, but that he will willingly walk next to you and at your pace.
  4. As a variation to the exercise, you can sometimes throw the tidbit forward to get the dog used to the idea of moving ahead at a fast pace.


If, during the initial heeling, the dog moves out of position, you stop, say “Uh, uh” and there is no reward. Do praise nthusiastically whenever he is in the correct heeling position on your left hand side!


When the dog works really well, then and only then, do you begin to work closely.

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