When your Golden can watch you while you walk backwards, then you are ready to teach the heel.
Heel means, “Walk with me, by my left side, with your neck and shoulders by my left leg. You will pay attention to me and walk as I do; slow, fast, normal, left turns, right turns and anything else.” Obviously, this is a complicated exercise. However, if your dog is watching well, this won’t be too hard for him.
To start, practice the watch me exercise as you have been doing it; backing away from your dog. When he is following you well and paying attention, simply turn your body as you are walking so that you and your dog end up walking forward together with him on your left side.
Picture this in your mind: you are backing away from your dog; your dog is facing you and following you. Back up to your dog’s right as you continue walking. You and your dog should be facing the same direction with your dog on your left. This is the heel. When you stop, have your dog sit.
If while you are walking, your dog starts to pull forward, simply back away from him and encourage him to follow you again. If you need to, use the leash to make sure he follows you quickly. Praise him when he does. When his attention is back on you, turn into the heel position again. Don’t be upset if you have to back away a few times. In fact, the more you do it, the better. Your dog will pay more attention to you if he’s not quite sure where you will be going.
When your dog is walking with you nicely, you can then start eliminating the backing away. Start the heel with your dog sitting on your left side, and tell him, “Watch me! Spot, heel!” and start walking. Praise him when he’s walking nicely with you. If he starts to pull, you can correct him by saying, “Spot, no pull!” However, if he is intent upon pulling or is distracted, simply back away from him and turn him away from whatever is distracting him.
Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book. This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.