Dog Training – Teaching Your Dog to Heel Off Leash

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 35,598
    Dog trainer Carla Nanmack-Wenger demonstrates how to teach your dog to heel off leash.

    Carla Nanmack-Wenger

    Carla Nammack-Wenger is the owner of Country Club Kennels & Training located in Fauquier County, Virginia. She is also the founder of The Chance Foundation, an all-breed, non-profit dog rescue organization specializing in taking in abandoned, abused and neglected dogs and providing them w/ medical care, socialization and training in an effort to find them permanent, loving homes. Carla has been training dogs of all breeds and temperaments since 1991. She started Country Club Kennels & Training in 1996 with the goal of offering her clients an attractive alternative to standard boarding kennels. The facility is located on her beautiful, 45-acre property in Catlett, VA. All the dogs are taken out a minimum of 6x/day and social, friendly dogs are turned out in supervised playgroups for their outings. Bedroom accommodations are also available for special needs dogs. Carla has spent years studying dogs and dog behavior. She is well known for her gentle yet effective training techniques and has acquired a reputation for being able to help dogs who have been deemed “beyond help”. Carla’s passion for what she does is demonstrated on a daily basis as she works with the homeless dogs in her care as well as her customer’s dogs. Carla is the trainer of choice of many rescue groups as they send her their “most difficult dogs” in hopes that with her love, patience and understanding, they will become adoptable. She has never met a dog that couldn’t be helped. Carla and her husband Ed are the proud owners of twelve, wonderful rescue dogs all of whom live in peace and harmony together.

    Carla: Hi there, my name is Carla and I'm here at Country club Kennels and Training. We are doing a video on some basic dog training techniques and leadership skills. Right now, we are going to do a segment on teaching your dog an off leash heel. I'm going to use a dog named Saffie(ph). She is for adoption as well. She has been living in the shelter unfortunately for about six years. She is a magnificent dog, and with that said it's important in order to teach your dog an off leash heel, you need to go through the homework of working with your dog on leash first. You can't just take the dog off leash and trust them to stay with you, there is a lot of danger, they can get into, you don't want to risk them getting across the street, getting hit by a car or getting into some other kind of trouble, which dogs will, by nature.

    So, you want to have a leash on at first while you are teaching her an off leash heel, take the time, be patient, do this for months if you need to until she proves to you that she is responding in a positive manner. I have got the leash on her. I'm not going to use the leash unless I absolutely need to. I'm going to try to get her attention with my voice, my body language, my eye contact, and have her respond to me as the leader. So here we go. Saffie heel, good girl, Saffie, good girl. I get her focus. With that treat if you need to. If she starts to lose her attention, just get it back, good girl. Saffie good girl slow, Saffie, heel, sit. Remember it's always nice to end a walking exercise with a nice place to sit. It keeps the dog from jumping on people. It keeps them from getting distracted.

    It's the nice light position for her to be in when we come to a halt, and remember I have a leash there. If she sees a distraction and starts to take off, I can step on the leash, I can pick it up. If you want to, if you feel a little more comfortable you can start with a leash over your neck, draped across your shoulders, if you need it, it's right there, but remember only use it if you do. Use your hands, use your voice, use your body language to guide her. Again, if I want to do with this leash draped over my shoulders, hands off, it's there if I need to get her attention back. Saffie look. You can hold that treat right to your eyes and say look, which gets her attention off the cows and over on me. Saffie heel. Saffie, good girl. Tapping your leg can get her attention sometimes, slow, good girl, sit, Saffie heel. I like to verbally praise the dog as well. I'm not always relying solely on the treats, Saffie, sit, good girl, I give her one on occasion, not for every exercise performed, but on occasion go ahead and pop her a treat. Saffie heel, slow. Notice, I am using my hands effectively. She is watching my hands, slow, and then when I turn right, I say Saffie good girl, Saffie sit, good girl, Saffie heel, slow, and really at this point, she is catching on.

    I don't really need to use a treat so much right now, and I do without that this time, but notice I'm going to be very enthusiastic with my verbal praise. I want it to be fun for her to be in position with me. Here we go, Saffie heel, Saffie, little distraction, give her a quick pop and move, heel, slow, good girl Saffie, let's go, good girl, Saffie good girl sit, good girl Saffie. That's some basic tips on how to teach your teach that off leash heel. Remember it does take time, patience. It takes the relationship of love and trust with your dog and remember make it fun for the dog and fun for you.