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How To Train Your Dog to Heel

Walking your dog on the lead is always best when they are happy to be beside you with a slack lead. The same can’t be said when a dog tries to pull you everywhere they go. In this section we will go through the steps needed to have your dog walking to heel as soon as possible.

Aim to have your dog behaving on the lead by six months, and remember to be in control of him, otherwise he will be in control of you.

Dog training walking heel
A sight all dog owners love - two dogs walking at heel, not pulling, just enjoying time with their owner

Dogs have to be taught to walk nicely on a lead. They’re not born knowing that they shouldn’t pull ahead or lag behind and they will naturally pull. Teaching good leash manners can be challenging because dogs move faster than us and are excited about exploring outdoors. Some dogs are determined to run around as fast as they possibly can, whereas other dogs want to stop, sniff and urinate on anything and everything in their paths. To teach your dog to walk without pulling, it’s critical that you never allow him to pull. If you’re inconsistent, your dog will continue to try pulling because sometimes it pays off.

Breeds Australian Shepherd with harness
This Australian Shepherd is wearing a harness - this makes heel training much easier

You need to teach him to walk obediently by your side, “your heel”, without pulling. If your dog does pull ahead of you, stop walking and call him back to your side. It might take a while, but soon the dog will learn that getting ahead of you isn't worth the effort and should stay by your side.

After six months of repetitive training your dog should be able to walk obediently on the lead, following your steps, not you following his. However, your dog will sometimes fail to respond to your wish, but you just have to keep at it and the hard work will pay off. He will always be distracted by strange scents, other dogs, different and varied noises, even after you think you have complete control. It is worth remembering that some dogs, such as Huskies, are bred to pull and these will take longer to 'heel train'.

A big strong Boxer Dog walking on the lead with his owner
A Boxer behaving well on a leash

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