As a dog trainer in Toms River, we are asked questions about proper nutrition, training, socialization, and behaviors every day. Pet parents want to make sure their doing things “right” so they have the best relationship possible with their dogs and we always appreciate their enthusiasm.
Often times pet parents have an impression that a good, well-behaved dog has to walk next to their side at all times. That sniffing the ground is a “no-no” and their walking in front of them is a sign the pet parent has no control over the walk. We’ve asked our very own Lead Dog Trainer to answer the question “Does My Dog Always Need to Heel?” and break down the pros and cons. Here’s what she has to say about the matter:
Hi. I’m Megan Ventura with Endless Pawsibilities. Often we are asked about does my dog always need to be in a heel position? First, let’s explain what is “heel”. Heel is usually a specific placement for the dog next to our sides. We like to tell people it’s their shoulder in line with our leg. The preference of left or right is really dependent upon the individual or the handler. There are some competitions and sports that require left-side handling only, so as a company we tend to teach our clients and dogs to do left-side heeling.
The benefits of heel are the dogs are in a specified place. They know where they need to be. They’re close to you. That way they’re kept out of trouble. It’s a wonderful tool.
Regular walking, or also known as loose-leash walking, is when the dog has more room to roam. They tend to be out at the end of a leash regardless of what the leash length is irrelevant. It’s however much leash you give them, but they shouldn’t be pulling you.
People ask a lot if it’s necessary or if they should be heeling their dog all the time. Though heel has its benefits, for a traditional dog in an everyday household it is not a good idea or even beneficial to the dog to heel them all the time. Walking around and sniffing their environment and interacting with their environment is very important. There is mental stimulation that occurs. They take in a lot of information using their nose, and it’s an outlet for some energy. It is exposure and entertaining for them.
Most people don’t exercise their dogs enough. Letting them out in the backyard regularly is not really enough exercise. It’s just an extension of their house. If we closed ourselves in our house 24/7 and we are only exposed to other good things by when one person decided we would get very frustrated, too.
Loose-leash walking is actually the recommended way to walk your dog for most of the walks unless you’re in a situation where you need your dog close. For example, if your dog tends to not like other dogs and you’re in an area where other dogs start to approach or be near. You can call your dog to a heel and kind of hightail it out of there quickly and safely.