Yes, if you want Fido to free heal, you must have your dog trained to heal off the leash first. This is how you need to start:
Take your dog off the leash.
Walk in a straight line. (Angling into your dog will cause her to heel wide.)
Walk briskly! Don’t walk at the pace of your dog.
Don’t wave your hands about – hold your LEFT hand close to your body!
Make sure you always give the first command in a happy tone of voice
Your dog needs to know that you are happy — don’t try to teach your dog anything if you are in a bad mood.
Change your voice to a commanding tone or call your dog’s name sharply if it doesn’t keep up with your walking pace or if it ambles away.
AFTER the second command, gently pat your side and give praise. Give praise at every opportunity.
If forging (Fido tries to get ahead of you) is your problem, or if your dog attempts to dart off, you must stand still! Signal back with your left hand and repeat the heel command forcefully, then pat your side coaxingly.
Remember, training your dog is not unlike training your child to behave in a way society expects. Provide rules and boundaries. Be firm about what is right and what is not. Praise whenever you have an opportunity — whenever you dog performs as asked.
When your dog is doing a good job of learning, give it the commendation it deserves! Praise it while it is actually learning and performing well.
If the dog you are training is large, make sure you carry his dog leash folded twice, with the snap end in your RIGHT hand. If the dog fails to pay attention, call its name loudly or reach out and “spank” it playfully on the hindquarters with the end of the leash. You should then coax your dog close by patting your side. (Never hit hard or in such a way that you cause the dog pain. Just the LIGHT spank is all that’s needed.)
If all attempts to keep your dog to heal off the leash position fail, it’s time to put the leash back on, give it ONE good jerk to bring the dog in close, and try again. The change in voice, followed by flattery, with the occasional use of the leash, should eventually teach your dog to stay at your side at all times. Especially if you make the heeling fun!
By Peter Roberts
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