The other day I posted a video showcasing how my service dog's heeling has come along as I'm very proud of how well Tzapo is doing there. I was asked to discuss how I got Tzapo to such a nice public heel so I'll do my best to break this down. Heeling can be difficult because when you stop and think about it, you're asking for a lot of little pieces. You're asking a dog to stay focused on you instead of a distracting environment, match your changing pace, stay in a specific spot, match your direction changes, stop moving when you do, and potentially sit when you stop moving if that is something you want. That's a pretty complex behavior when you think about it. So it's not surprising that it's a behavior that can take a bit of time and shaping to fully get right.
- nose to hand target
- wait cue (or sit if you want your dog to sit when you stop)
- focus/watch cue or equivalent