Why “Heel” Matters!

20140122-091828.jpg

By Sean O’Shea

I often get asked by clients and other folks why I recommend the “Heel” command and what is the value of it? It’s a very good question. For me, it goes much, much deeper than just the aesthetic of having a dog walk next to you (although it does look good! :)), and there’s some obvious practical value of having a dog in a well managed physical position, close to your side to keep him or her out of trouble and harm’s way. But in my opinion that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are some really valuable state of mind and relationship benefits as well. Let’s take a look at a few!

-Dogs have to utilize a ton of impulse control and focus to keep themselves next to you on the walk in the face of many distractions and exciting triggers. This ends up being a fantastic training and state of mind exercise for the dog.

-The physical position of the dog indicates the mental position as well – or in other words, if the dog is working to keep himself next to me, I know he’s focused on me instead of the environment, I know he’s managing himself, and I also know that his intensity level is under control. (Most dogs as soon as they get agitated or stimulated start to move around and lose position either farther back or forward, and these are great warning signs.)

-A respectful, polite, courteous, and tuned-in state of mind isn’t the state of mind that reacts to dogs and other things in the environment.

-Having your dog honor your request to walk in a certain position, at a certain pace, and ignoring distractions, is a huge positive relationship builder.

-Dogs who are paying attention, respectful, polite, and courteously walking in a heel feel far less inspired, entitled, and empowered to bark, lunge, and disagree with things they disapprove of in their environment.

-Dogs in a heel, that are practicing self-control are far less stressed and anxious, and therefore far less apt to make poor decisions around dogs, people, cars, bikes etc.

-Dogs in a heel are actually deeply connected to their owners. They therefore feel far less stress and anxiety because they are being guided/led through the world rather than being in charge of assessing and sorting out what is safe and what is dangerous constantly. (Especially important for nervous, anxious, fearful dogs, who make up the majority of reactive cases.)

-Asking more of your dog makes you a leader. A dog with a leader is relaxed and comfortable. A dog who is a leader is stressed and anxious.

-Dogs being respectful on-leash tend to be respectful to the environment. Dogs being brats on-leash tend to be brats to the environment.

-If the dog is using 75% of their mental focus on keeping themselves in a heel position! that only leaves 25% to get into trouble with.

If you haven’t worked on “Heel” with your dog yet, and you’d like to benefit from some of these juicy “Heel/Healing” results, drop me a comment and I’ll connect you with a link to my video that shows how easy it is to create this very cool command. 🙂

____________________

Here are a few links of mine to help you with healing your heeling!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nxKaTYQFJI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrrQJto8xJU

____________________

CONNECT WITH US ON FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube for more training insights, tips, a free weekly Q&A, and community interaction!

Click Here to visit our website.

Our groundbreaking do-it-yourself training video/PDF training booklet Learn to Train The Good Dog Way: The Foundation is now available for pre-order at a discounted price – click on the picture below to watch the new TEASER video, and click HERE to order your copy!

screengrab

Advertisements
28 comments
  1. Tracy said:

    My 20lb. terrier companion walks beautifully on a loose leash while wearing a martingale collar, but all the while she’s jockeying to get a snout-length in front to put ME at heel! Any suggestions would be most welcome (we’re already on board with your DVD and can’t wait for its spring delivery!)–we have lots of issues we inadvertently created and are working hard to reverse…

    • oshandy said:

      Hey Tracy! So it sounds like tone got some good foundation already, but that you need a little fine tuning. 🙂 I personally use prong collars on about 99.9999% of dogs I work with…even the small ones. The martingale has a much lower impact and communication value than does a prong collar, so that’s why you’re playing the jockeying game. 🙂 I would try going to a prong and use all the videos I embedded at the bottom of the original Heel blog post to get it all sorted out. Here’s the link to the first part of my prong collar intro video: http://youtu.be/h3xxSBxVikc. And remember, the Heel videos you need are now at the bottom of the Heel blog!) Thanks for the buying the DVD and for all the support! 🙂

      • Tracy said:

        Thanks for the personalized advice, Sean-so grateful for the wealth of info you share so freely in your various media! I’ll be sure to check out all of the videos. I have an H-S prong collar that I’ve used in summer months–are there contraindications with metal collars in temp’s well below freezing? -20C is common here, so you can imagine how I chuckled seeing you all bundled up for the ‘cold’ in Nola a few weeks ago 😉

      • oshandy said:

        Hey Tracy! It’s my pleasure, and I’m so happy the info is helpful. Let me know what you think after you spend some time with the videos. As for the prong and the weather, I think the only contradiction/problem is that you won’t find me out there! 🙂 Us LA folks aren’t built for that kind of cold. 🙂

  2. Mary said:

    My girl a 50lb collie mix is always trying to be in front of me. I’m using a prong collar while trying to correct her from getting ahead of me but she has gotten better about staying closer to me without pulling on the leash

    • oshandy said:

      Hey Mary! It sounds like you’re making some good progress! I embedded three links into the original Heel blog post that should be super helpful for you. I think the video I show with Lola would be especially helpful. It’s the most recent of the three and shows how I move between small,pops and 180’s to create a nice Heel with out constant struggle or reminders. Let me know what you think. 🙂

      • Mary said:

        Sean – thank you soo much for the video links – I love how you explain in simple terms why and what you are doing. Lora is just like my dog, Zoey. She is improving with the pulling and I will definitely put to use what I saw you did in the video. My girl is also reactive to other dogs like Lola. Do you have a video link on how you address that problem with her ?? I would love to learn how I can get her to walk past another dog without becoming a demon dog 🙂 Thank you for sharing your knowledge and appreciate how willing you are to help us become better dog parents !!!!

      • oshandy said:

        Hey Mary! So glad the videos are helpful. The first thing I always advise with dog reactivity issues isn’t to worry about dog reactivity issues. 🙂 It’s to focus entirely on all of the small things that create the state of mind that lead to the issues. Focus on creating ZERO pulling, with total relaxation and politeness on the walk first and foremost. I would also go very hard on making sure thresholds look amazing! And anywhere else you’re seeing intensity, high speed brain or high speed body (except play obviously). You need to have some nice long duration “place” command happening too. Once you get all of these rocking we can then work on any remaining dog reactivity issues. But don’t focus on that now, just knock out the fundamentals! Make sense?

  3. Donna Freeman said:

    Would love the link to your video! Thank you!

    • oshandy said:

      Hey Donna! I embedded three of my best videos (into the bottom of the original Heel blog post) that show very clearly the steps to create a really nice heel,even with serious pullers. Let me know how you do!

  4. tara mason said:

    Would love to see your helpful video on working on this command! One of our two new pups is a major leash puller and I’m having a hard time teaching him the proper way to walk. Thank you!!!

    • oshandy said:

      Hey Tara! It’s definitely better to get a handle on this stuff sooner rather than later. I embedded three links into the bottom of the original Heel blog post that should be super helpful for sorting the pulling out. Also, here’s a link to the first part of my prong video. http://youtu.be/h3xxSBxVikc Using the right tools makes all the difference in the world. Using harnesses or regular collars make it hard on you and the dog! Let me know how it goes. 🙂

  5. Padme said:

    Excellent information. Sean, you are very wise. Can’t imagine walking a dog any other way! It’s such a simple activity that cultivates a tremendously invaluable bonding experience in which the dog and I are connected in mind and spirit.

    • oshandy said:

      Thanks so much Padme! So happy we’ve had the chance to work together and get a Sir Luke into a good groove. 🙂

  6. nzlaura said:

    I would like the link please, to help with our training. Thanks

    • oshandy said:

      Hey Nzlaura! You got it. I embedded three links into the bottom of the original Heel post. Let me know how you do. 🙂

  7. Tanya Ware said:

    I am in aw of your training methods – pls send me a link to the video – Thank you

    • oshandy said:

      Hey Tanya! Wow, that’s SO nice of you to say. Really appreciate it. 🙂 I embedded three links into the bottom of the Heel blog that should help you get the same results I do. I also use specific tools, like prong collars that help me more clearly communicate with the dogs I’m working with. If you need help with that here’s a link to the first part of my prong video: http://youtu.be/h3xxSBxVikc. Thanks again for the kind words and support! 🙂

  8. Lori Marsden said:

    I definitely need help with this!

    • oshandy said:

      Hey Lori! The good news is that creating a nice Heel is actually not that hard. If you’re using the right tools and the right strategy it should be fairly starlight ahead. I embedded three videos at the bottom of the Heel post that should really help, and here’s the link to the first part of my prong collar videos. Let me know if you have any questions! http://youtu.be/h3xxSBxVikc

  9. Heidi Chappell said:

    My dogs know heel… it is when the distraction occurs we have trouble! Can your video help with that?

    • oshandy said:

      Hey Heidi! Great that you’ve already started working in this and have made some good progress. I posted three video links at the bottom of the blog post that should be very helpful. Using the right tools and the right strategy can make all the difference in the world…even around distractions, remember, if you’re using tools like harnesses or regular collars it can be very challenging to successfully work through distractions, I recommend and use prong collars on just about every dog I work with because I find they help my clients to create a relaxed, peaceful, enjoyable walk for them and their dogs. Here’s a link to the first part of my prong collar intro video. If you use the prong videos and the the three Heel videos I embedded you should be the walk master!

  10. Sandi said:

    I have a small dog that pulls constantly when we walk! I’d love to give this a try.

    • oshandy said:

      Hey Sandi! That’s a super common issue. First thing I would ask is what tools you’re using to walk your dog? Harnesses, regular collars, and many other tools either encourage or make it very easy for dogs to pull. I use prong collars on almost every dog (even the small ones!) and they help tremendously. Let me know if you need any help we the tools you’re using. As for the Heel work, I posted three links at the bottom of the blog post for you to check out. Let me know if they help.

  11. Barb (Barbara Ann) said:

    I have started the heel command on walks, but want to make sure i am doing it right! Thank you!

    • oshandy said:

      Hey Barbara Ann, awesome that you’re already working on it! I went back and posted three links at the bottom of the Heel post so you can just click on them and see how you’re doing.

  12. Kathrin said:

    Same thing as Heidi said 🙂 My dogs know heel… it is when the distraction occurs we have trouble
    Would love to see the video!

  13. Reblogged this on The Balanced Pack and commented:
    “-Dogs in a heel are actually deeply connected to their owners. They therefore feel far less stress and anxiety because they are being guided/led through the world rather than being in charge of assessing and sorting out what is safe and what is dangerous constantly. (Especially important for nervous, anxious, fearful dogs, who make up the majority of reactive cases.)”… YES! YES! YES!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: