How to Teach Your Dog to Heel

Updated: Apr 23


Okay, your dog is comfortable on a leash. Teaching your puppy to heel is the next step! Join our Director of Training, Cian, for a two-minute training session in teaching your dog to heel.


Breakdown of Training:


Before you begin, it is important to name the behavior so that your dog becomes familiar with the command word, "heel." Then, take a treat in your right hand and hold it up to your left shoulder. This will allow you to maintain eye contact with your dog during the exercise.


With your dog on your left side, begin walking in very small counter-clockwise circles. It is important that you keep your dog at your knee, which should act as a natural barrier in case they try to run out in front of you.


From there, you'll want to begin training your dog to automatically sit when you stop walking. Once you've used the "sit" command and your dog has completed this action, reward your dog with the treat.


Next Steps:


Once your dog has become versed in this behavior, begin walking in larger, more oval-shaped circles. This begins exposing your dog to walking in straighter lines in this manner. Finally, when your dog has mastered this step you can begin walking in completely straight lines.

 

Related Article:

The Science of Service Dogs: How Trained Service Dogs Help Veterans with PTSD

 

Training and Nurturing Puppies at Project 2 Heal:


At Project 2 Heal, we breed Labrador Retriever puppies for the purpose of donating these animals at 8 to 12 weeks of age to one of our partner organizations. From there, our puppies are trained extensively in service dog work and matched with an individual in need.


Our process begins with Early Neurological Stimulation, which are exercises conducted during the first two weeks of life—beginning at only 48 hours after birth!—that slightly stress the puppy's nervous system and allow them to become less reactive to novel stimuli as adults. This process includes the following:

  • Tactile stimulation: Stimulating puppy paws through touch our tickling.

  • Holding the head of the puppy erect.

  • Holding the head of the puppy pointed downward.

  • Supine position: Resting the puppy on its back in the palm of hands.

  • Thermal Stimulation: Placing feet of puppy on top of a cool, damp towel and allowing the puppy to move about.


Service Dog Scent Training:


Also occurring during the first 14 days, service dog training includes a process called early scent introduction. This training exposes dogs to smells it will encounter during working life. During this process, trainers pay close attention to the way puppies react to various smells. This helps identify which puppies may not be suited to work as a service dog.


Service Dog Clicker Training:


Championed by Karen Prior Academy, clicker training service dogs is a method that teaches puppies about associations. Puppies learn commands through a combination of rewards and clicking sounds. During service dog training, high-level tasks are broken into smaller tasks, after which puppies are rewarded with food and stimulated with sound from a handheld clicker.


Eventually food and clicking sounds are phased out so that puppies are able to execute tasks upon command.

 

Our mission is to reduce the cost and time necessary to place a service dog with a veteran, child with Autism, or adult with disabilities.

 

How Can You Help Further Our Mission?

When you donate only $5 per month, your contribution covers important expenses, including:

  • First vet visit for entire litter

  • 50 pounds of high-quality dog

  • 1 puppy eye exam

  • 6 bags of high-value reward training treats

  • 1 puppy-in-training service dog vest

As you can see, there are a number of ways that $5 monthly donations can make a real impact at Project 2 Heal. With an average cost of $5,000 to raise and train a puppy litter of puppies through the first 8 weeks of life, we'd love for you to join us on our mission.


Click below to become a donor at any level that works for you. We need your help to raise puppies and change lives.

 

$5 Monthly Donors


Our bread and butter (or should we say, "kibble?"), these donors cover items listed above, including first vet visits!


I Want to Cover Vet Visits!


$10 Monthly Donors


Each of our $10 monthly donors feeds an entire litter from birth to donation. (That's a lot of puppy food!)


I Want to Cover Vet Visits!


$25 Monthly Donors


$25 a month prevents fleas and ticks for a pup. With 30+ puppies expected in 2021, these donors mean the world!


Fleas and Ticks? Eww!