Written by Sarah Connor - Pet Nutrition Expert. Updated on 22/05/2023.
Teaching Your Dog How to Heel
Sometimes, walking with your dog can be difficult, especially if your dog’s easily distracted, an adolescent pup in training, or a strong breed that tends to get easily excited and pull. The best thing to do is to train your dog to heel if you're finding it difficult to modify your dog's walking pace to yours.
The good news is that teaching your pup to heel or " close" cue can transform those walks into peaceful and enjoyable outings for both of you. Heel training not only promotes obedience and control but also strengthens the bond between you and your pup.
In this blog, we'll explore some effective techniques to help you teach your pup to heel like a pro. We're also going to give you our top e-collars for obedience training so that you can take your training to the next level.
By adding e-collars like Bark Beyond's bestselling dog training collars into your obedience training routine, you can enhance communication and reinforce commands with your dogs in a kind and gentle way without the use of static shock and by only using low stimulation.
Written by Sarah Connor, an experienced canine trainer and nutritionist for over a decade. Her positive reinforcement methods and passion for pups make her a go-to for dog owners.
How We Evaluated the Top 5
Value for Money
1. Bark Beyond E3 E-Collar
by Bark Beyond
- Adjustable reflective collar
- 800m range (2600 ft range)
- Includes silicone sleeves to prevent sores and neck burns
- Built-in LED light
- Fully waterproof receiver and remote
- Swimproof for all-terrain training
- Long-lasting battery life for both receiver & remote
- Duo & trio best value combo packs
This is the latest, upgraded 2023 addition to Bark Beyond's best e-collars for heel training because you can opt for no-shock mode and use low stim for gentle and humane training.
The Bark Beyond E3 E-collar is a top-rated heel training solution for 2023. Designed with durability in mind, this waterproof e-collar allows you to train your dog in any weather condition and comes with two sets of contact points for short and long hair.
With adjustable levels of vibration and shock, you can tailor the training experience to your dog's specific needs. Experience versatility with multiple training modes, including vibration, shock, LED, and sound, providing effective communication options. The convenient remote control offers an impressive 800m range, allowing you to train your dog or up to three dogs from a distance.
User-friendly features such as a backlit screen for easy visibility, energy-saving mode for extended battery life, and an adjustable collar size for a secure and comfortable fit make the BarkBeyond E3 E-collar a must-have for all pet parents wanting to use the lowest stimulation setting and no static stimulation for all training needs.
2. Bark Beyond Anti-Bark Collar S2
by Bark Beyond
- No-shock option mode
- IP67 waterproof bark collar
- Spans from 8" to 25 inches for neck circumference
- Fully adjustable for all dog breeds
- 7 adjustment levels
- Easy to use
- It contains two silicone sleeves to prevent chafing
- Includes smart chip feature tailored to your dog
- Ability to customize the intensity and functionality
- Strong and durable with an adjustable buckle
- One-size fits all collar
- Easily adjustable for all breeds
- Suitable for dogs weighing 11 lbs. to 110 lbs
- Safe and effective
- Humane via vibration mode
- Quickly rechargeable in 30 minutes for 12 days of use
- Free shipping
If you parent an excessive barker, the Bark Beyond Anti-Bark Collar S2 helps with training. Excessive barking during lead training can be a major distraction for both you and your dog.
A no-bark collar helps to minimize or eliminate this behavior, allowing you to focus on teaching your dog proper leash manners. But keep in mind that you should never attach a leash to a no-bark collar. It will break.
Professional trainers and veterinarians like this no-bark collar because it's a one-size-fits-all collar for all dog breeds. It's also a versatile and user-friendly solution for dog parents seeking a collar that adapts to dogs of various sizes. With its adjustable design, this collar ensures a comfortable fit for small to extra-large breeds.
Featuring seven different strength levels with an option for low stim and no static shock training, the one-size-fits-all no-bark training collar provides humane training options, making it suitable even for smaller breeds. This bark collar includes a protection function with two silicone sleeves. These sleeves not only offer a comfortable fit but also act as a safeguard, protecting your dog's delicate skin during training sessions.
Best For Small Dogs
3. Educator E-Collar with Remote
- User-selected stimulation levels ranging from 1 to 100
- A Pavlovian tone feature provides an effective addition to the stimulation
- Includes 2 sets of contact points
- ZEN-300 one dog system with 1/2 mile range
- Easy to use
- No sharp stimulation but a blunt feel
- Includes a tracking light
- Compact Stopwatch transmitter
- Small receiver for small to medium sized dogs 10 pounds and up
- Suitable for small dogs only
As another best-seller, the Educator E-Collar with Remote is offered in five fun colors and works well for heel training. The takeaway with this dog training collar for heel commands is that it features over 8,800 positive reviews and allows for positive training reinforcement.
The Educator e-collar includes Pavlovian tone and vibration and is another dog training e-collar that allows for kind and humane training. The Mini Educator is explicitly designed for small and medium-sized dogs weighing 10 pounds and larger. With a 1/2 mile range and a compact receiver, this system is perfect for dogs with neck sizes ranging from 11-1/2 to 24 inches.
The ET-300 system delivers a tapping sensation that is similar to vibration but more intense, making it a practical addition to the stimulation process. It also features a Pavlovian tone feature to enhance the training experience.
Best for Multi-Dog Training
4. Garmin Sport PRO Bundle
- Crafted with quick turn dial
- Includes 4 training buttons
- LED beacon lights on remote control for low light training
- Offers settable BarkLimiter levels
- Tone & vibration control with no-shock option training
- Quick turn dial with positive clicks when changing between 10 stimulation levels
- Ergonomic design that's lightweight & compact
- Allows for easy, no-look hand use
- No belt clip
The Garmin Sport PRO Bundle works well for heel training and is made from nylon and polyurethane. We really like the Garmin Sport PRO for heel and obedience training. It has quickly become one of our go-to e-collars for its user-friendly features and effective functionality.
The quick turn dial on the handheld device allows for seamless control and easy switching between 10 stimulation levels, while the 1-hand operation ensures convenience and uninterrupted focus on dogs. The 4 training buttons provide various options, including continuous and momentary stimulation, vibration, and tone, allowing me to choose the most suitable training method. Additionally, the remote-controlled LED beacon lights on the dog device make it visible up to 100 yards away in low-light conditions.
Overall, the Garmin Sport PRO is lightweight, easy to use, and delivers excellent results, making it one of the best dog training choices.
5. Garmin Pro 550 Dog Training Collar
- Built-in no-bark limiter via Autorise technology
- 21 leels of stimulation
- Multi-dog training via tri-tronics technology
- Water-resistant & durable
- Vibration option with no-shock training
- Ability to use stimulation & tone for training with no shock
- Offers multi-dog training
- Includes beacon lights
- Easy to use
- Not as compact as other models
Customers like this e-collar for heel training because it has a built-in Bark Limiter with advanced bark correction technology. It helps address excessive barking by providing effective correction and discouraging unwanted behavior.
The device also offers 21 levels of continuous and momentary stimulation, allowing you to easily adjust the intensity using the top-mounted selection dial on the handheld device. You also have the option of no-shock training. For added versatility, the PRO 550 model includes vibration control as an option for training, providing an alternative method of communication with your dogs.
Customers also said that the handheld device can remotely operate the Upland beeper accessory (sold separately), making it convenient for those in hunting sports. The package includes the PRO 550 handheld device, dog device, collar strap, adapters, charging clip, contact point set, and a comprehensive manual.
The classic and rugged design ensures durability and longevity, while the water-resistant construction adds an extra layer of protection. With Tri-Tronics technology, this system delivers reliable performance and efficient training.
How to Teach Your Dog to Heel
The American Kennel Club (AKC) says that heel is traditionally for your left side for obedience and rally competitions. "Hold your treat hand at your chest. This will prevent luring (dog just following the food) and jumping while walking if your treat hand is just out of reach," adds the AKC.
It's also essential to give the treat with the hand closest to the dog to avoid him crossing in front of you for the treat. You should always reward with a yes or a click ( if using the clicker) and a treat when your dog does this correctly.
Reddit Comments for Heel Training
When it comes to dog training, there's no shortage of advice and tips out there. One of the places where dog parents gather to share their experiences and insights is Reddit.
"A simple method that's in my current daily routine is to walk with him on lead at my left side in a counterclockwise circle or making left turns (towards him), all the while holding a treat in my left hand right next to my pants seam but above his head to encourage the desired position," explains one Redditor.
"Just before I stop, I ask for a sit so he has time to comply and reward. Doing short sessions of this a couple of times a day will start to build a good foundation and should teach him to sit when you stop."
Another Redditor said, "Heeling and loose leash walking are two different things. The heel should be glued to your leg and used in shorter durations when near busy streets and passing people, etc., not for the entire walk; loose leash should be used for the majority of the walk."
The Redditor goes on to say that "Loose leash is actually harder to train than actual heeling, heeling is kind of a "trick" and loose leash is a skill that is going to be used 100% of the time as a default behavior."
Start with Basic Obedience Training
Before diving into heel training, ensure that your pup has a solid foundation in basic obedience commands such as "sit," "stay," and "come." These commands will serve as building blocks for heel training and establish a communication framework between you and your pup.
Choose the Right Dog Training Tools
Selecting the best dog training gear for positive and heel training is important for successful heel training. A well-fitted harness or a training collar, such as a martingale or high-quality e-collar like the Bark Beyond no-shock collar, can provide better control and reduce pulling. Additionally, a standard six-foot leash offers an optimal length for maintaining proximity during training sessions.
Establish the Heel Position
The heel position involves walking with your dog on your left side, with their shoulder aligned with your leg. Begin by standing still and offering a treat at your left thigh, luring your dog into position. Reward your pup when they naturally reach the correct spot. Consistently repeat this exercise until your dog understands where they need to be.
When a dog is in the heel position, their head and neck are aligned with, and close to the person's leg they are accompanying. They maintain a tight proximity, leaving minimal space between them.
Practice Leash Manners
Before advancing to walking:
- Focus on leash manners in a controlled environment.
- Use short distances to teach your pup to walk beside you without pulling or lagging.
- Reward your pup with praise and high-quality treats for maintaining the desired position.
- Gradually increase the distance and continue reinforcing good leash manners.
Introduce Verbal and Hand Signals
Alongside the physical cues, introduce verbal and hand signals to reinforce the heel command. Consistency is key, so decide on a specific word or phrase like "heel" or "let's walk." Use this command consistently while walking and practice it in different environments to reinforce your dog's understanding.
Implement Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is vital during heel training. Reward your dog for walking in the correct position, focusing on you, or responding promptly to your cues.
Treats, praise, and playtime are great motivators to encourage desired behavior. Be patient and consistent with rewards, gradually reducing their frequency as your dog becomes more proficient.
Gradually Increase Distractions
As your dog becomes more comfortable with heel training, gradually introduce distractions. Start in a quiet environment and gradually expose your pup to more challenging scenarios, such as passing other dogs or encountering enticing smells.
Maintain your dog's focus through verbal cues, treats, and gentle leash guidance, rewarding them for successfully navigating distractions while remaining in the heel position.
What to Do If Your Dog Makes Mistakes
When dogs make mistakes during training, stop for a moment and think about the situation. Did you make the mistake of giving the wrong cue, or did you push your dog beyond limits?
A good question to ask yourself is if you trained your dog enough with enough correct repetitions. If you spend less time training or train incorrectly, it's not the dog's fault if he responds poorly.
Move On To a New Behavior or Take a Break
If your dog has an off day, instead of repeating the routine repeatedly, you should move on to something else or take a breather. This will give you time to think about your training strategy and discuss with a trainer what behaviors you should work on. You should also think about the following:
- How many repetitions your dog will do
- What the reinforcers will be
- How many minutes per session
- How many total sessions per day
- What to do if your dog does not respond correctly
- What approximation of the behavior is acceptable
E-Collar Heel Technique and Steps
You can also use an e-collar to teach your dog how to heel, but before doing so, your dog needs to understand basic commands like sit, down, and stay. You want your dog to understand you when using an e-collar, so it's recommended that you work on obedience training with positive reinforcement before using an e-collar. Your dog also needs to be comfortable wearing a collar. Here are some tips for heel training with an e-collar.
- Choose a suitable training location where you and your dog can focus without distractions.
- Have your dog standing on your left side, wearing a flat collar, a six-foot lead, and the e-collar.
- Begin by teaching the "Sit" command to establish control and attentiveness.
- Once your dog is seated, give the cue to start walking and say "Heel."
- Walk forward, ensuring your dog stays close to your left leg. Use gentle leash pressure to guide their movements.
- If your dog starts to pull or stray away from the desired position, use the e-collar to reinforce the "Heel" command.
- Reward your dog with treats and praise for maintaining the proper heel position.
FAQ's: Teach Your Dog to Heel
Q: Can I train my dog with an e-collar?
A: Yes, you can train your dog yourself with an e-collar. However, it is key to have a strong foundation in basic obedience training before introducing the e-collar. This ensures that your dog understands and responds to basic commands like "sit," "stay," and "come" without the use of the e-collar.
Before starting e-collar training, it is recommended to consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can provide guidance on how to use the e-collar effectively and ensure that it is used in a safe and humane manner. They can also help you understand the proper techniques for introducing the e-collar to your dog and help you with training tips.
Q: What collar is best for teaching dogs to heel?
A: The Bark Beyond E3 E-collar is the best e-collar and one of the most popular e-collars for heel training. This is because it's user-friendly and offers the option of only using low stim, no static shock training.
It helps you build an outdoor relationship with your dog and is the second step after basic training with no e-collar use for dogs. This isn't a hard collar to use and helps maintain eye contact when moving backups for loose-leash walking or heeling.
Q: How do you teach a stubborn dog to heel?
A: After basic obedience training classes with positive reinforcement, you can work through the steps above to help you with heeling. When it comes to e-collar training, it is crucial to start with the basics of obedience training before introducing the e-collar. This includes teaching your pup commands like "sit," "stay," and "come" using positive reinforcement methods.
Once your dog has a solid foundation in basic obedience, you can gradually introduce the e-collar as a tool to reinforce those commands. Never use an e-collar if your pup does not have basic obedience training. You have to work with your dog, not against your dog, and after basic obedience training classes, you'll be able to understand and communicate with your dog a whole lot better.
It's only after this that you should introduce an e-collar for training. If your dog is not paying attention to you while you're walking, you can start by getting your dog's attention by taking a few steps backward and using a clicker and high-value treats when your dog follows you. In the beginning, you're not looking for eye contact, but rather, you want your dog to follow you. When he does that, you should click and reward every few steps.
Q: Can you teach an old dog to heel?
A: Yes, you can teach an old dog to heel with an e-collar if he's had basic training and understands the cues. With the Bark Beyond E3 collar for dog training with the long-range remote, you can learn how to get your old dog to heel.
If your dog is a senior, it may be best to work without an e-collar first by clicking and rewarding. It's pretty fast going when teaching an old dog how to heel if he’s had training before.