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Universal Commands - Heel

The "Heel" command.

Training a dog to heel has three main purposes.
The dog is there, by your side, under close control and is not impeding your movements and is position to be able to move with you.
It is wise to teach your dog to come to heel slightly behind you and to always walk a little behind you.
The defining line between behind and in front is when the dogs nose does not extend beyond the back of your leg.
Walking with the dog behind you puts you in the position of the leader - letting the dog drag you puts you in a position of helplessness.
This command is being described to get the dog to walk on your left hand side. Reverse the movements to get it to walk on your right.

In Border Collie Rescue all verbal commands used are accompanied by hand signals which serve to emphasise and compliment the instruction.
This is of great benefit when training deaf dogs, dogs with learning difficulties and dogs with short attentions spans.

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Conventionally, a dog should always walk on your left side. Tap left thigh with left hand to encourage it into place.
From the front, the dog should come round your back from right side to left.
Tapping the left thigh with the flat of the left hand is the hand signal the dog should be taught to recognise.

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From behind the dog should come in on left. (on or off lead)

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To teach a dog to 'Heel' from scratch, first get it to 'Sit' in front of you in the 'present' position. Tell it to 'Stay'.
Using a favourite toy or item, take it in your right hand and move it around your body to your back, changing it to your left hand behind you and bringing it round to your left side, tapping it against your thigh when its in position.

Encourage the dog to follow and use the command 'Heel' Once in the heel position, the dog should be told to 'Sit' and 'Stay'.
When the dog has started to grasp the idea you can get rid of the toy and go though the motions with empty hands.

The command 'Heel' has two main applications and is intended to get the dog into a position where it can be closely controlled or the lead put on.
The dog should be taught to heel from a position in front of you and from behind.
The verbal command or hand signal should be enough to instigate the sequences.
The dog should be taught that if commanded when you are standing still it should go through the sequence and end up sitting by your left side.
it should be taught that if commanded when you are moving, it should go through the sequence but fall into step on your left hand side and slightly behind you and match its pace with yours.

If you stop moving when the dog is in the 'Heel' position, it should sit without further command.
The dog should also be ready to change direction without falling out of position.

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 If you are interested in adopting a Border Collie from us, please phone 0845 604 4941 during office hours.
(2 pm to 5 pm Tuesdays to Thursdays)
Please do not write to us or email us about adoption - we want to speak to you before we start the process.