It's a good idea to teach your puppy to heel as soon as you have them trained to walk on the leash so they learn proper leash manners as early as possible.

Teaching a dog to heel is one of the more advanced obedience training commands that should be done after they have been trained to understand the other major obedience training commands – “sit”, “down”, “stay”, “come” – as well as the basic method for walking on the leash. The “heel” command involves having the dog pinned closely to your left side, similarly to the requirements of the dog show circuit, so that they match each step you take and naturally look to you for guidance if there is an uncertain situation ahead.

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The “heel” command can be quite hard for your dog to master, especially if they are young and excitable and all they want to do is bolt ahead to check everything out. They need to know that you are the leader, however, and a dog that likes to pull their owner every which way is obviously not one that accepts that fact. Training them to heel on your command will enable them to become much more relaxed when you’re out and about with them in public, and will go a long way to allowing them to accept your leadership in such situations.

This can be particularly useful when there are children or other animals ahead – instead of tugging at the lead to investigate, your dog should understand that you are in control under these circumstances once you have successfully trained them to heel. It may take a lot of patience and training, but if you work with your dog a little bit each day then you will eventually enjoy the reward of being able to have a far more pleasant walking experience with your dog, knowing that they’ll happily listen to your instructions when their safety or the safety of others might depend on it.

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