2. Walk Nicely On A Lead Continued...

Exercise 2.7 - Let's Go & Choose To Heel

‘Let’s Go’ walking - great for developing what I think of as casual control while walking out in public and ‘Choose to Heel’ to teach your dog that finding Heel position really pays off!


Let’s Go:


  1. Show the dog some food in the left hand (assuming the dog is on the left), say ‘Let's Go’ and step forward with the dog following your hand slightly in front of you and away from your side. 
  2. Feed a treat every few steps by letting it fall gently through your fingers and praise your dog for walking with you.
  3. Release your dog with an ‘Okay’ when finished. 
  4. Practice often, short sessions both on & off lead and in many different places!


Choose to Heel:


  1. Begin with your dog in a secure enclosed area, anything up to about the size of a tennis court. Alternatively you could have your dog on a long line attached to his harness with the other end secured to a post or tree.
  2. Say nothing, just start to walk.
  3. Your dog may pay no attention to you at first. He may start checking out the surroundings, etc. 
  4. Eventually though he will get curious and wonder what you're doing and come and investigate. 
  5. When he gets close to you and in approximate heel position, stop and quickly give him the treat. Say nothing, no good boy or anything - just give him the treat. Then, turning abruptly begin walking briskly again.  When he reaches heel position again, stop and treat him. Then turn (approx 180 degrees) and begin walking again treating each time he gets into heel position.
  6. Pretty soon he’ll start coming around in front of you, trying to get at your hand. Be sure you do not treat him when he is in this position. Move your hand to your side, and only treat him when he finds heel position. 
  7. Continue working in this fashion until he gets the idea where he is supposed to be to be rewarded.
  8. If he wanders off just keep walking and when he finds you again in heel position click and treat.

Before too long you’ll have trouble shaking him off and that’s when you know he’s ready for some distractions and another environment!



Exercise 2.8 - Building Rhythm & Duration

Circles, Eights, Ovals & Spirals!


Walking shapes with your dog is a really great way to build a nice rhythm and start extending the length of time your dog can walk nicely focused beside you.


Warm up with the Choose To Heel Game (Exercise 2.7) and then start to walk forward with your dog in heel position just a few steps at a time and then as long as your dog is able to stay in position and walk with you vary and gradually increase the number of steps so your dog never knows when you will stop.  


Start off with large circles in a counter clockwise direction first and when that’s easy move to clockwise circles.  The dog has to work a bit harder on the outside of the circle so reward this extra effort to keep him alongside you.


Then you can do Figure 8 shapes, Ovals and Spirals.


These shape patterns really help your dog learn how to keep in position beside you as you walk.  The goal is always for the dog to be focused on following the handler not the other way around! :-)