How to train a Yorkie to heel
What does heel mean?
To “Heel” a dog takes up a position at your left side with his eyes level with your leg. He then walks/runs with you smoothly and changes direction as you do without ranging out to the end of the leash or getting entangled in your feet. Dogs trained to heel properly make excellent walking companions, whereas an untrained dog can be exhausting.
How do I teach my dog to heel?
Heel is also the basis of many other commands. Obviously, training a dog to heel requires the use of either a leash and collar, or a lead. In the proper “heel”, the leash should be held with both hands. Your left arm will be held straight along your left side with your hand close to your body and your elbow straight. Your right hand should be held close to your right side.
As with other commands, you will be teaching your dog through a combination of hand signals and verbal instructions. Remember that your Yorkie won’t understand a word you are saying–you are simply getting him accustomed to being guided through a certain action while he hears a sound. Eventually, he will perform the action independently when he hears the sound.
When should I teach my puppy or dog to heel?
Start by positioning the puppy at your left side in the proper position. Your left leg is the puppy’s cue to your movements. You should always lead with the left leg. You may signal the heel command both verbally and physically. Common practice is to say your dog’s name and then “Heel”. The physical signal is to slap you left left lightly one time with your left hand. The signals should be given at the same time.
Once you have issue the commands, start walking immediately, leading with the left leg. Be sure to start slowly, as your puppy is going to have no idea what you want him to do. Gently tug on the leash to pull him along with you. As soon as the puppy starts moving in the direction that you want to go, give him praise. Change directions often, you need to teach him to watch your body movements and to keep pace. Correct the puppy with quick tugs on the leash, but remember to be gentle–the Yorkshire terrier is a very small dog.
While you should start slowly, you should work at varying the speed and direction of travel. You have to teach the puppy that he is to keep close to your left side and out from under your feet no matter which direction you are going and how fast you are going–again, remember that Yorkies have very short legs! Practice going in circles, making figure eights, going around obstacles, reversing direction, and any other pattern you like to try. The essence of the heel command is that the puppy learns to stay at your heel under all reasonable circumstances. As always, keep the training sessions short and end them on a positive note.