What are the first steps when teaching heel?
To teach heeling to your dog, start in a low distraction area and have high value treats in your hand. Have your dog or puppy on a leash. Hold the leash on the OPPOSITE side of your dog or puppy. Your free hand that is holding the treats should be on the same side as your dog. This is your guiding hand. Have your hand right by the dog’s or puppy’s nose and have him take couple of steps by your side. Give a treat and a “Good Boy”. Slowly start increasing the amount of steps and raise your hand. Only give the treats if all four feet are on the ground.
When you stop, raise your hand up and over the dog’s or puppy’s head to get him to sit. This teaches him, that when you stop, he needs to sit.
You can start adding the command “Heel” right before you start walking. Always remember, the sooner you get rid of the treats the better and faster your dog or puppy will learn to heel. I would try to not have treats after 6-12 trials.
You want your dog to enjoy going out on walks. I only use heel when we are walking by a dog who is fence fighting or jumping at us. Or when we walk down a busy street or by a large group of people who do not want to say a hi to us. All other times, my dogs walk in front of me on a loose leash smelling things and exploring his environment.