Why is Heel Considered a Critical Dog Skill?

Mastering the skill of heeling, which entails walking alongside you, is highly important when it comes to training your dog.

For individuals who walk their dogs on sidewalks, teaching the heeling command on the left side may be more logical. This is because people typically keep towards the sidewalk’s left side, and it only makes sense for our precious fur babies to stay on that side during walkies.

This way, the furry animals are less likely to jump on pedestrians, or their pets, become entangled with another animal’s leash, and encounter other potential issues like accidental injuries. Be cautious; however, consider being equipped with pet insurance for dogs.

Pet insurance covers much of a frisky pup’s testing, treatments, and medications during accidental injuries, sickness, and medical emergencies. Contemplate purchasing a policy because the pet insurance cost can be much less than unplanned vet bills you may have to deal with during unfortunate health events.

In the meantime, read this article to learn why heel is considered a critical dog skill and how to teach your pet to heel.


Heeling helps keep your four paws close to you and under control during walks. This is particularly important in busy urban or high-traffic areas where you want to prevent your pet from running off, approaching jeopardizing situations, or getting into conflicts with other animals or people.

2.Leash etiquette

Walking in a controlled heel position teaches your furry pet to walk politely on a leash without pulling. It promotes good leash manners, making the walking experience more enjoyable for both you and your dog.

3.Focus and engagement

Heeling requires your pet pooch’s attention and focus on you as the handler. It helps build a strong bond and reinforces your position as the leader of the pack and provider of guidance, which is crucial for effective communication and obedience in other areas of training.

4.Public manners

Puppies that can heel on command are usually well-behaved in public settings. It allows you to navigate crowded areas, pass distractions, and control your pet’s behavior better.

5.Training foundation

The heel serves as a foundation skill for other advanced obedience commands and activities such as agility, competitive obedience, or therapy work. It establishes a basis of control and responsiveness that can be further built upon.

Overall, teaching your canine to heel can be critical because it enhances safety and leash manners, fosters focus and engagement, promotes good and safe public etiquette, and sets the groundwork for more advanced training.

How to teach the heel command

To teach your puppy to heel – 

  • Start in a low-distraction environment.
  • Hold a treat at your side and begin walking.
  • Encourage your puppy to stay close by using the cue “heel.”
  • Reward with treats for staying by your side.
  • Use verbal praise and positive reinforcement.
  • Practice regularly, gradually increasing distractions.
  • Reinforce good behavior consistently.
  • Be patient and consistent with training.
  • Seek professional help if needed.

By teaching your pet to heel on both sides, you can ensure a method to avoid confrontations from any direction. The “heel” command prompts your pup to walk beside you, aligning its ear approximately with your hip. This technique proves especially valuable when navigating busy intersections and crowded places, allowing you to guide your dog safely through various environments.

Nevertheless, consider being equipped with pet insurance for dogs so you are more prepared to handle unanticipated health scenarios. Contemplate purchasing a policy because pet insurance cost can be more bearable than potentially hefty vet bills during non-routine vet visits.