Practice “Heel” with dog walking in a figure eight
Two colored (red-blue) posts, barrels or traffic cones with a distance of about three meters between them. Beginning in the starting position, with the dog sitting at attention on the left of the dog trainer with the leash loose, the trainer and dog should walk around the two colored posts in a figure eight. The level of training the dog and trainer have received would dictate how small the distance between the two posts should be. The pass ends with the dog and trainer again in the starting position. The other dogs or the group should be sitting or lying quietly a short distance away. The next dog trainer should begin their pass by calling their dogs name to get their attention, so that they can start off immediately in a focused and alert manner.
Practice “Heel” while walking quickly
Have all of the teams make a quick paced, brisk walk at heel, starting at one marked spot and walking to another. The idea is that the dog trainer wants to find the ideal speed of pace where the dog can follow easily without having to try and keep up and without pulling to get ahead. A good speed is one that both the dog trainer and dog can maintain for long distances.
Practice walking at “Heel” with distractions
- Posts, barrels or traffic cones with balloons, ribbon that will easily blow in the wind or colored party streamers.
- Buckets with dog food.
- Sheets of aluminum foil spread out on the ground.
- A great big stuffed animal sitting on the ground.
- A person with a full shopping basket or bag of fast food.
The dog trainers with their dogs at their side should all stand in a line, one behind the other. Following the instructions of the course instructor the teams should make their pass through the obstacles on the field, to the left…, to the right…, make a turn around…, faster…, slower…, etc.
This way the dogs will learn the importance of focusing only on their trainer and not becoming distracted with things around them. They will learn to follow at heel voluntarily and confidently no matter what situation may present itself in everyday life.