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Welcome to our dog blog where we and some special guests will blog about local dog events, new products, pet product advice, plus this is the place where you will find free puppy products!!! Yes, we said it! FREE product giveaways will happen here!

Train Your Dog to Heel to Keep Both of You Safe

Posted by Margaret Mobley on 4/26/2017 to Walking Harnesses

Walking  your dog is such a joy with the right training and gear…

The greatest joy of having a best friend dog is that they will walk with you, make you exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and meet other dog lovers. When you train your Dog Walking Geardog to heel, you prevent the heartbreak of accidents, falling and a lost dog. Here are a few tips from the experts, along with harness recommendations to make it easier to train your puppy, adult or mature fur partner to walk with you.

What the experts say
There are almost as many techniques for training your dog to “heel” as there are experts. Therefore, we will keep this section short by giving you resource recommendations from places we trust, that are listed at the end of this article.
The main considerations in helping your dog learn to be a good walking partner are:
1. Be sure your dog is already trained to focus on you.
2. Start the “heel” training in a quiet, uncrowded location.
3. Follow a consistent training method and reward with praise, not punishment.
4. Use a collar or harness  and leash that fits your dog

Dog Harnesses
The type of harness you use can depend upon your dog breed’s size, fur and build. So here are some general suggestions from our experiences at Doggie Diva with our own dogs and our selection of dog walking products.

Toy, Miniature and Small breeds will certainly not require anything bulky, although they will need to learn leash walking so they will not leap out of your arms, pet purse carrier or moving vehicle! Use a tether that comes with your dog purse carrier and car seat to assure that your little furry buddy is restrained when not in your arms or by you on a leash. For walking, a small collar and matching leash are easy to rely upon when you are not going to put your small tail wagger down for long periods of time. For more control, a harness is perfect when you want to give your pup a workout with a stroll to the park or let them socialize in crowds. Our Puppia harnesses are ergonomically designed for helping you walk with your dog without strain on their neck and with a comfortable balance on their shoulders and back. 

Medium sized canines from 15 to 40 lbs. will respond well to “heel” training, simply because they like to be on the ground to satisfy their curiosity while also being near you. Harnesses are a very safe and Puppia Soft Dog Harnesscomfortable way to take long walks with your larger pooch because you will both feel more in control than with a simple collar and leash. The strappy harnesses that are colorful, decorative and theme-based are both lightweight and fashionable. The metal D-ring on the top back, gives you more balance in keeping your dog beside you, while the four-pawed companion feels less restricted. 

Large dogs are totally dependent on a leash and/or harness for walking with you and staying safe. Many pet trainers recommend a “pinch” collar to use for training purposes. Once the dog has learned to “heel,” a friendlier collar will work. The trouble is that many pet owners never give up the pinch collar. When a large dog that weighs over 50 lbs. is well-trained, you can use almost any walking pet gear you wish. Of course, the size and width of the collar and leash will be proportionately larger too. Full or strappy harnesses are very effective on large dogs, just as on medium-sized ones because the control that both of you have is easier to manage. 

When a leash or harness is not enough
With some dogs, the tendency to pull is an additional behavior to reign in before it becomes a problem. A large Lab or Retriever is a prime example of breeds that do not always respond to your “Heel” command, especially when a squirrel crosses their path. Our special Horgan Harness is a terrific tool for teaching your dog not to pull when you are walking together. Any sized dog will pull under the right circumstances, such as excitement when they know you are going for a walk; desire to get back home after a long walk; or a distraction that peaks their curiosity.  
The Horgan Dog Harness ($29.95) is a lifesaver. This harness adds an extra strap on the back legs. If you only look at the picture, you may think it is a strange contraption, but personal experience with my White Lab proved that she did not mind it a bit. You see, the rear strap gently restricts the back leg movement when she decides to lunge, run, or pull on her leash. It does not hurt her at all. With the Horgan back leg harness, she pays better attention to where I am going, rather than the other way around. The harness comes in sizes from Small to X-Large (15 to over 100 lbs.). 

The Horgan Harness demo video on the Doggie-Diva Dog Store is a must-watch if you want to preserve your sanity, enjoy your walking partner and keep both of you safe from injury or confrontation. Once your pooch is trained not to pull, any other dog walking gear will be a pleasure to use. 

It is spring, the weather is agreeable and your doggie is ready to take you for walks, exercise and fun. So, get out there and smell the roses, while your fuzzy buddy sniffs the environment!

Training to Heel Resources:

Why You Should Let Your Dog Sniff During Walks, by Abbie Mood, Dip. CBST  |  Apr 17th 2017, dogster.com

Cesar’s Way by Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, “Dog Psychology”

The American Kennel Club, Dog Training Basics

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