Teaching Heel/Loose Leash Walking

Teaching Heel/Loose Leash Walking

hi everybody it is Claire and back with
another video and this time I am going to be talking about training the heel
slash loose leash walking this was highly requested by many many many of
you and I would like to say that thank you so much for the outpour of
engagement on my last training video which was about engagement so no pun
intended but I’m really glad you all liked it and so I thought I would try
and continue making these kinds of training tutorials now it should be kept
in mind that many of these tutorials are not going to cover every single thing
that you would need in terms of training your own dog at home or your service dog
in training because these videos um well they may be helpful are not going to
replace that of someone in real life so a face-to-face trainer I’m just because
it’s a little different online over the internet that being said I hope that
this video is helpful I want to make note that this is how I train heal slash
loose leash walking I use these methodologies and these foundational
exercises for my service dog clientele for young puppies for dogs who are just
training in general or who might have behavioral issues so all all uh it’s all
encompassing does not just have to be service dogs however that being said I
do want to note again that you know because service dogs are what I
specialize in I do take note to teach heel in a way
that’s going to be conducive to a working service dog so for example it’s
not just loose leash walking where the dog can go wherever you know isn’t
pulling but may be over there and I’m over here
it’s going to be a tighter heel close to my left leg on the left side which you
may have to modify onto your right side if you use an assistive device or
something other that impedes the use of the dog on
the left side it’s really up to you honestly the reason why I emphasize a
tight like clean heel on my left side or right side is because I want that dog to
not be in the way of others if I’m walking through the mall or through a
grocery store the other part of this heel is that I want the dog to be able
to move kind of fluidly with me if I need to go into a tight space or round a
corner or go into my tight bathroom stall that is an accessibility friendly
or you know in a doctor’s office where there are a lot of people and I need to
turn around I don’t want the dog not being close to me and therefore coming
into the personal space of others because that is not what a service dog
should do so a lot of these exercises are putting an emphasis on clean
movement that stays with the handler so if I turn left the dog is going to stay
with me almost as if there are an extension of my body so moving left with
me or moving right with me moving in a turn with me or moving backwards with me
so many of these exercises do go over rear-end awareness which is a great
concept you should definitely look into if you haven’t heard of it before and
honestly I just want to emphasize that this video is definitely not going to be
going over every single part of loose leash walking / heeling these are just
my favorite foundational exercises and I hope that it is helpful if you have
questions please leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to get back
to you now for the actual exercises I’m going to be showing a couple of videos
that I’ve taken over the past week of Percy and how I work hurt or I would
work a dog through these exercises but you will need a couple of things if you
want to emulate the way that I do it first of all you’ll need training treats
or some sort of motivator whether it be a toy or
a ball something that gets your dog motivated and excited and Percy that
that’s pretty easy for her I just have a handful of kibble but it might be
different for your dog secondly you’ll need a slip lead or a leash and collar
but I prefer the slip lead because part of what I’m going to be talking about
and demonstrating today is how to teach loose leash walking and that means
teaching a response to pressure and the slip lead allows me to put pressure on
the dog’s neck when the dog responds it actually usually it’s not doing it right
now because it’s pretty small but it usually comes back down like this and
opens up a little so that the dog you know has a release of pressure and then
pressure goes back gone if need be and pressure releases you can use a leash
and collar for this but this is a more versatile tool I really do love the slip
lead I think it’s six foot from Mendota brand
and it is small so I have small hands so it fits easily in my hands and then the
third item is some sort of platform now this is a pan it’s just an equine feed
pan honestly this is found in many barns but
if you don’t have access to a barn and then you can just get it off Amazon or
they have it in local you know tractor feed supply stores and the reason why I
use this is I think it’s a really great tool for working on the heel position
and working on rear-end awareness it also is a great touch pad if you’re
teaching your dog to target this particularly I like because of the
rubber so if I have this on like a maybe a tile floor or something it’s not going
to move around as much as something else might but I have used books so I stack
books before for this kind of exercise I’ve used board games when Percy
was a puppy and I didn’t have you know a formal as how she pad I used like two
small board games stacked on top of each other I’ve also seen wooden platforms
that you can make by hand if you’re crafty and you want to do a DIY it’s
really up to you and the other thing that I wanted to mention is that this
this methodology with using the slip lead first this might work well if you
you know prefer to be a force free trainer I personally I advocate for the
safe and proper use of things like prawn collars and eat collars and if you
disagree with me that’s okay I have my reasons I’m sure you have your reasons
but I definitely don’t put on any training device until later when the dog
understands what I’m asking them to do and then it becomes a refiner a tool to
to perfect the behaviors that the dog already knows
I personally don’t support the use of certain other training tools as a way to
teach the dog I don’t think that it’s very effective and I think if you’re
teaching a dog with maybe a head collar or front clip harness you know it’s more
of a band-aid versus a teaching technique however if you choose to use
one of those tools it’s up to you and that’s totally fine
I just wanted to state why I’m using certain tools in my video versus others
I also do note that I can make a separate video on training tools the
ones I like the ones I don’t like and my reasoning behind that but it is not
going to be in this video so thank you and let’s get into the demonstration so
for loose leash walking there are two main exercises that I like to use as a
foundation for walking politely on a leash now keep in mind this isn’t the
heel position but rather not pulling pressure actually takes advantage of the
fact that the dog has an oppositional reflex what you want to do is train the
dog out of that because instead of feeling
pressure on the leash and then wanting to continue pulling against that
pressure you’re actually teaching the dog to yield to that pressure so for
example I’m going to walk Percy on the slip and when she gets ahead of me and
creates tension on the leash I’m going to stop and plant my feet and not move
forward until she turns her body back to me so her head her chest her feet they
turned back to me and I’m going to mark that and reward now you’ll see that
Percy is pulling a lot in this video and that’s primarily because this is a place
where she’s distracted and I normally let her off leash so it’s best to choose
a place that isn’t too distracting when you’re first starting out with this
exercise and then you can up the ante for example when I’m walking Percy here
you can see that I stopped once she puts tension on the lead and when she turns
her entire body back towards me I marked that with my yes which means reward and
then I give her the reward so there we go again
that turning back once she feels the tension here I’m standing she’s sniffing
around I’m keeping my feet in the relatively same spot they were and she
turns to me I mark that and reward I also want to say that Percy knows the
pressure game very well and she knows what I’m looking for after a couple
repetitions a dog who’s learning how to walk nicely on a leash for the first
time and is just starting the pressure game might not catch on as quickly as
you would like them to but just keep trying they will get there the other
exercise I really like is back and forth this is exactly what it sounds like I’m
just changing my direction suddenly especially if there’s a moment when
Percy’s distracted or maybe pulling on the lead a little which is both
reinforcing the idea of yielding to pressure and also in terms of service
work you know I want a dog who’s paying attention to where my body goes the
other thing I want to say is that consistency is key so here you can see
Percy is continuing to pull on the leash but what I’m doing is just every time
she pulls it’s the same old game pressure come back I say good job and we
keep walking this is frustrating and it gets tired easily and just
remember that it is not going to happen in a day or even a week or maybe even a
month so definitely do your best to remain consistent and if you find
yourself getting really frustrated then just take a break because that’s not
really you know effective or conducive for training because then your dog kind
of feeds off that now let’s get into the actual heel position so for this I use a
bunch of different exercises and I’ve just chosen some of my favorites which
includes using the platform or the AK line feed bucket which I showed earlier
doing some luring so learning the dog into the position I want and then
marking and then also using the platform to help establish rear-end awareness so
that the heel can be something which the dog it can turn tightly with you through
corners or into small spaces that way you know specifically for service dogs
who really need to be able to engage that back end it’s important to be able
to do that while staying in a heel so let’s get into the exercises so I start
by learning policy on to the car and I’m marking and rewarding when both feet are
there here I am marking in the water stain on that touch pad that’s good job
for duration I’m going back to it and again for duration
once I like what I’m seeing I’m gonna add in the mark
you can also touch for this I use mark every time that she gets both paws on
which is looking for I say mark yes good job
so actually reviewing this video I want to point out a mistake I made I took
away the lure and made her you know do “mark” at the same time. she didn’t
understand that and she wasn’t getting her paws fully on the touchpad so
my mistake you know definitely filming yourself and watching afterwards can be
a great way to improve your technique okay so next we’re gonna incorporate the
mark command for some rear-end awareness exercises and for this I am just holding
kibble in my hands down near my crotch and my feet are against the touchpad and
what I’m doing is moving step by step very slowly until she moves her back
feet and sort of pivots them I mark that and reward this is a difficult exercise
for her I’m gonna definitely admit that we need to work on it more it’s easier
for her to do the exercise which you’ll see later on okay so the next
exercise is very similar but this time you’re going to be putting the dog in
the heel position now what I’m doing is working on Percy’s rear-end awareness
while I’m using my body and the position of my hand so if you have ever sailed
before then you might know that the rudder works by going in the opposite
direction of where you want the boat to go so I kind of think of it as a rudder
where my hand is going the direction which is opposite to where I want the
boat or the dog’s butt to go now for actually teaching getting into the heel
position I like to learn Percy walks on my left most dogs that I train work on
my left and what I do is take my left leg step back while I bring my hand with
alert back to my butt and there I am tripping and almost falling on my face
and apologizing to Percie anyways the the thing is is that you can teach
the heel position in many different ways some people like to teach it with the
traditional finish where the dog comes around but I like to do it to step
back and then once the dog understands that position I move into a little
higher level where I’m taking the dog a couple steps with the lure and praising
them and then releasing them so here you can see with Percy
we’re just walking in a little circle walking down turning her but that’s
where we are and awareness really comes into play it’s when you’re making those
sharp turns and I’m marking just walking and marking and rewarding of course but
with a puppy unfortunately I don’t have one to demonstrate with this would be a
lot different I wish I did have a puppy to show you guys how slowly I go but
with Percy of course I’m moving a little faster
because she already knows all this fun stuff here I’m actually adding in the
word because she understands the position and then I’m still using a
little bit of a lure to help her out but not fully and then we can see here is the
heel swinging that butt around using those rear-end awareness skills that we
just went over and then I’m gonna show you actually another exercise which is a
little bit more advanced and that’s practicing the heel but with the touch
pad so once we get ourselves together and she’s on the touch pad I’m going to
move into different positions and tell her she’ll so what she’s gonna have to
do is we really work to pivot but by using the touch pad she’s stayin in the
heel position so that way she’s not going too far back or forward or to the
side if this is a really good exercise in my opinion because the dog especially
for service work should be able to move their body with you in all sorts of
weird positions when you’re out in public just because you might need to
and having a dog with you who doesn’t know rear-end awareness or how to stay
in that heel position will make that exponentially harder
so here’s Percy moving into the heel again if you need to use a leash
definitely with puppies I like to have a leash for better control but with Percy
the leash was just getting in the way so anyways that is basically how I
teach not all of the exercises but just my favorite ones and certainly you
know this video is not showing a dog learning, Percy already knows how
to heel she knows how to loose leash walk all of those fun things and
definitely if you have any questions please please let me know in the
comments below I hope this was helpful and if you need me to clear anything up
in case I missed something or you’re confused I would be happy to do so thank
you so much for watching and I will see you in my next video bye now!


  1. I've been really trying to get this with my dog he's been getting closer but he still has some work to do. By the way you are so beautiful what a queen 😍😍

  2. Thank you! I'm so glad you posted this when you did, I was just getting ready to go work on Duke's heel in an hour or so! I'll utilize what you've shown here for sure! Once again, love the format of these videos!

  3. Thanks so much for this wonderful video! Is it possible you could do a video on how to get your dog to alert to cortisol? Once again, thank you, this really helped me and my SDit. 🙂

  4. I'm an equestrian and I've always used a grain tub too! I recommend putting a a piece of stick on Velcro to keep it Down on carpet!

  5. Good work 🙂 I'm actually a huge fan of halti's at any level of heel work. Even with my pet dogs I prefer a tighter, slightly behind heel when walking, I find that it is easier to tackle the heel from both directions so to speak, using luring and cookies but also using the benefits of not having the dog overpower and plow through me. I have weak hands and next to no balance so having a halti helps in that way too. My service dog is program trained and every one of their dogs is taught while in advance training to work with a halti, many graduates drop the halti after class but some dogs, like my girl, really need it. Trinket isnt bad with leash walking but she is trained to keep tension on the leash (personally I would prefer a mobility harness but the program does not allow them for the dogs' safety, which is understandable when working with nearly 200 new dogs a year) so her halti is more to keep her safe than it is to keep her from pulling 🙂

  6. What would you do if your SD halts (stops completely) when she is working? How would you get her to walk forward besides giving her a treat?

  7. I've done the pressure game but whenever we are outside, my sdit likes to either sit down or lay down. He will eat grass, roll, etc… It's so frustrating lol. In public it's not as bad, but outside is TERRIBLE.

  8. Do you use a prong collar while Percy is working or just during training sessions? I’ve always been against prong collars, but admittedly I don’t think I’ve ever seen it being used safely and effectively as a refiner of training. I’d love to hear your reasoning for use of that tool over another one! Thanks for all of the quality content that you put on YouTube! 💜

  9. this is SO HELPFUL!! ive seen lots of vids like this and this is my favorite. Percie is an angel. can i do a version of this with a small puppy? did you start this with percie really early and do how old you recommend starting heel work/rear end awareness?

  10. Thank you for taking the time to teach us. My current SD is 12.5 years old and I will be getting a new puppy in a few months to train as his replacement. I know how to train but will still be doing obedience classes, the socialization can’t be beat. Teaching rear end awareness is something I want to teach but do worry about catching a paw with my power wheelchair. I can use my walker to teach it first hopefully it will help us not catch any puppy paws with a wheel.

  11. Thank you so much! I’ve been searching for a good video that teaches heel and rear end awareness! Great video! What feed pan do you use? My dogs seem to make it sink down a lot, does that happen to you and P?

  12. This is so helpful! I do have one question though. You had said how important consistency is, but what would I do for walks? We train heel and go on a walk at the same time. Would every walk I take her on need to be a constant training session for heel, or would we work on heel for the first half and just let her walk (after releasing her from heel) for the second half?

  13. I would love a tutorial on block/cover (the taske were the dog goes behind or in front of ther handler to make space) if you could make on

  14. I have my SD from a program and they don't teach their dogs to "heelwork" and they have no rear endroit awareness.

    My dog have a wonderful leash walk, no pulling and your video will help our team to get one step further. 🙂

  15. Can you make a video on how to get your dog used to loud noises my dog is good about it but I notice her tail goes between her legs and she gets scared she still does all she needs to do I can just tell she is a little nervous when a loud noise like a bell or fire alarm

  16. My JRT Mix is terrible at heeling. I think it’s mostly cuz he sooo fast. Literally he is fastest dog I’ve seen in the dog park. I’ve just been using a short leash pull strap cuz he knows what heel is but wants to walk fast afff

  17. My SDIT has been working on heeling for a year. He does well some days and others, he still doesn’t get it! I have trained for 20 years and this guy has been the most difficult, I have to keep him focused 100% if I give an inch, he takes a mile! If he is off leash, he is perfect, on leash, not so much!

  18. I loved the video but it would be so very helpful to see a video with a dog that does not already know heel so we can see how to do it with a dog that is not already trained. Thanks for all you are doing!

  19. Claire, you said you wish you had a puppy to show the actual teaching of these skills. Would you be willing to do that video with Caspian? I, for one, would greatly appreciate it, as I will be working with a large breed working dog to assist my disabled daughter with mobility. This dog would work in conjunction with her smaller medical alert dog, Trixie, which she's had for over 4 yrs now.

    At the time we got Trixie, we were unaware of all of the current diagnoses and there has, unfortunately, been an increase in mobility issues. Trixie is an owner trained, rescue success, but has always been a natural. She was 10 mos old when we got her, and has actually alerted to conditions that we were unaware of and were diagnosed later. We've even determined that she realizes if my daughter needs water or Gatorade, as when presented with both options, she will touch the one she wants my daughter to have. She never ceases to amaze me, and has saved my daughter's life on several occasions.

  20. my service dog is great at heel in stores but recently we have been going to theme parks and she pulls so bad, but I dont go enough to actually train there. what are some tips??

  21. Can you please do a video on item retrieval and walking backwards? Your training video was extremely helpful and my service dog improved heeling after practicing your training method. So thank you for this video! 🙂

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