When Can Pup Be Expected To Heel?

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by Leaf Hunter, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. Leaf Hunter Active Member

    My beagle pup is about to turn 8 months (had her since she was 8 weeks). I can get her to heel indoors and around the yard, but outside there are just to many distractions for her to reliably focus on me.

    My goal is to have her walk next to me in a relaxed heel when I'm in stores like Petco and Petsmart or when I'm in high traffic areas like an outdoor mall.

    Since this is my first pup, I'm not sure what is realistic to expect of her. I'm debating between increasing the amount of training to hurry the process along or if I should relax, continue with the short 2-3 min training sessions twice a week, and not expect a heel until she's one or two years old.

    One trainer recently told me to be more authoritative and to start correcting her anytime she veers off. Correcting meaning to jerk the leash, pull her tightly close to my leg, and then relax the leash. It reminds me of the classic leash popping with the pinch collars, but instead of a collar its with a front-clipping harness.

    I'm ignoring that advice for now, because I much prefer Emily's (Kikopup) and Tab289's methods, but I'll admit, the pressure to get her to mind and show manners is there. Part of me keeps sayings, "shes just a puppy" and to relax. What's your thoughts???
    MaryK and SarahtheSniper like this.

  2. Adrianna & Calvin Experienced Member

    Hi Leaf hunter

    I agree with Kikopup's methods, of course. I'd say it was an issue where more teaching was needed.

    I think one of the problems with getting a dog to stay in a relaxed heel position is in making it clear to the dog when she needs to heel, and when she can wander around. I am fine with my dog loose-leash walking in any position when we're out, and when I want him to stay at my side I give him a sign (he's deaf) and keep my left arm slightly forward (so down, but slightly ahead of me to keep him in position for a short period of time. I use this to get past potential trouble spots (i.e. strewn chicken bones on the sidewalk).

    If I wanted him to automatically go in that position and stay there until released, I'd make it easy for him by switching equipment. He wears a harness, so I'd attach the leash to his collar or a different type of harness to tell him "now you're on the job." If you want to take your dog to stores and have her stay in that position, I'd let her know by changing equipment. I'd also encourage success by releasing her frequently at first so that she does get to sniff and explore. It makes it easier for her to control herself if she knows there will be an outlet for her little nose to wander.

    I think it's quite hard to take a child to store which is both a toystore and ice cream/candy shop (e.g. take a dog to Petsmart) and have him stay by your side the whole time. If you need to run in and get something quickly, it's ok, but to wander around and shop -- well, it'd be hard for any kid dog. Personally, I would let my dog explore as long as he kept the leash loose--I wouldn't want to restrict him to a heel. If you really do, then I'd make that the ultimate goal of all of your training, rather than a short term goal.

    BTW if Calvin was a treat-grabber, I would 'heel' him through that one isle -- that's no biggie. I just think being tethered to my left leg the whole visit would be no fun for him.

    Hope this helps.
    SD&B, MaryK, Jean Cote and 1 other person like this.
  3. MaryK Honored Member

    A & C has given very good advice. I allow my dogs to walk on a loose lead, sniff and explore the world. However, if I do need to keep them close, I just ask for close heel. It does take a while for youngsters to stay close heel for long, so just start with baby steps. Very short distances at first, just one or two paces, then gradually increase the distance. But personally, I only use close heel when it's a matter of safety, like crossing the road (they both know curb drill also) or on narrow footpaths with other people also walking along.

    I definitely wouldn't start to jerk her or use any other method other than Positive Reinforcement.
    Dogster and SD&B like this.

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