Her Dog Lies Down When Heeling

Maxene wrote to me asking about about what to do when her dog lies down when heeling: “I have a young Kelpie cross dog who spent his formative months in the RSPCA. Trying to train him to heel, but he is very confused and just lies down and won’t move even for treats. Don’t want to give him a correction yet because I think that might intimidate him more. What should I do?”

Lynn Stockwell Explains What To Do When
Her Dog Lies Down When Heeling

The first thing we need to know is how young this dog is, and if he was ever leash-trained. Did the shelter staff ever take him out on a leash, or was he carried to a play yard? If he was leashed, how did he react there?

The easiest thing to do is SHOW HIM what you want: keep walking. I wouldn’t drag him, but apply consistent pressure up and forward–he will get up. The moment he does and takes a step, give him slack and encourage him forward. By coaxing and cajoling him while he’s laying down, you’re putting all the control in his court, and obviously he’s not keen on the idea of moving. He needs to drag a leash around the house and, ideally, be attached to you at all times unless he is in a crate, especially for housebreaking purposes.

How To Proceed When Dog Lies Down When Heeling?

Thank you for your reply and advice. We think he is about 9 – 10 months old and was taken into the RSPCA when he was 2 or 3 months old. They did lead him around, but only to places he was familiar with, so I don’t think they could see a problem developing. It’s hard to tell if he is apprehensive or just doesn’t see why he has to keep moving, which makes it difficult to decide how to proceed. In all other ways, he is a nice, happy, playful dog. Will try all of your suggestions and hope for the best. Early days. Again thank you.

Adam Expands On What She Should Do When
Her Dog Lies Down When Heeling…

It really doesn’t matter what he wants; if he’s apprehensive or if he’s stubborn or if he’s passive-aggressive. That’s not the way it works. His job is to please you, because you are the dog owner and he is the dog. You are the pack leader, the big boss, the shot caller. He needs to learn this, because it can ultimately save his life!

And let’s not forget: We’re not asking him to do anything exceptional, like run into a burning building or drag a soldier away from enemy fire. We’re asking him to simply walk alongside you and in exchange he gets to walk around your house naked, receive free food and poop on your lawn. Such a deal!

Okay– all humor aside:

Make him walk with you. Keep walking, as Lynn said above. Lock your hands down by your belt buckle and keep moving.  The moment he shows that he’s making an effort to walk with you, create slack in the leash and praise him, profusely… but keep moving! If he has an interest in the ball, you can use that to build an association to the word “come” (if you’re facing him) or “heel” if you’re walking forward, but it’s not necessary.  When he realizes that you’re not going to stop moving, he’s not going to like the idea of being dragged and he’ll get up and start moving.  That’s when you’ll lay on the praise.  A secondary thing will happen, too: He’ll realize that you’re acting like a leader and start following you.