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Walking To Heel In Perfect Sync – Make It Your New Year Resolution!

By Anna Webb – Broadcaster, Author, Trainer, studied natural nutrition and therapies with the College of Integrated Veterinary Therapies (CIVT) 9 months ago 4592 Views

As it’s the Chinese ‘Year of the Dog’ there’s no excuse not to make some New Year’s resolutions that impact positively on your four-legged friend.

One study revealed that about 80% of dogs in the UK are not trained, which is a great shame as trained dogs are happy dogs, and certainly make happier owners!

If there’s one resolution that’s worth sticking to, it’s training a perfect walk to heel.

Some breeds get ‘heeling’ quicker than others. Collies will likely get the concept naturally compared to a Mini Bull Terrier, like my own Prudence, who will find it illogical!

The principle of all training is to have fun and play games based on your rules with teamwork.

What you feed your dog might impact on your training success. Studies have shown that high glycemic diets of processed kibble contribute to ‘attention deficit’ type behaviours.

Caused by the sugar spikes in carbohydrate heavy foods, it creates an inability to focus and promotes OCD behaviours.These can disappear when you feed a natural raw diet like Natural Instinct.

Lovely loose lead walking defines a relationship. It’s the culmination of training a variety of component parts or focus tools. These interplay to make teaching walk to heel a breeze.

Once you’ve mastered the art of walking to heel it can often be the key to unlock other behavioural issues as part of the dog’s holistic picture.

I know how much time, energy, consistency and patience it takes to convince your dog that walking in a straight line is much worthwhile than lunging to sniff a lamp-post.

Prudence and I began training in our front room, teaching her the heel position beside either of my legs. I’d reward every step with happy vocals, some Natural Instinct Beef Jerky, and the command ‘Together’.

We transferred into the garden upping the ante with different distractions and working on a long line. Weaving a recall into the proceedings to return to my leg. We also trained our necessary on our ‘Focus Tools’.

‘Proactive Playtime’ (referring back to our December blog), andtraining focus tools pays dividends to keep Prudence’s attention whether we’re waiting at a bus stop, or romping on the Hackney Marshes.

Our training walk to heel has involved four ‘focus tools’: ‘Touch my hand’; ‘Head up’; ‘Go Sniffing’ and ‘Tug the rope toy’.

Left to her own devices Prudence would pull like a train, and bounce sideways – horizontally bungee jumping - to absorb every smell or piece of dust en route.

Making matters more complicated Prudence is also a ‘planter’. Best describing the moment of dropping anchor and refusing to walk in my chosen direction.

I wait and completely ignore her at the end of the lead, until it slackens, (I’ve waited eight minutes!). To prove I am ignoring her, I’ll send text messages so as to not to reward her with any eye contact.

When the lead loosens, I quickly reward with a blast of ‘Touch’ my hand. Jollying her along repeating our walking ‘Mantra’: ‘forwards’; together; walking’. Reinforcing with well-timed food treats (as she is walking) and happy vocals.

When she struts ahead, our ‘Head-up’ command means she looks up, bang on cue. With her attention on me, its easy to guide her back ‘Together’ either with ‘Touch’ or a game of ‘Tug’.

‘Go Sniffing’ on command encourages dogs need to read their ‘pee-mail’. Otherwise our walks would be a series of stopping and starting.

Managing her ‘sniffing’ is using a natural behaviour to reward and break up the monotony of walking in a straight line.It’s a technique that I use anytime, anywhere as a handy focus tool to distract Prudence from cyclists or joggers, and pesky pigeons.

Make training fun with Natural Instinct’s selection of delicious treats:

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