Walking to Heel …
All dogs should learn walking to heel – unfortunately too many have not been trained to do so. When on a leash, your SM puppy must NOT,
- Drag you around,
- Bustle about your feet,
- Make sudden and unexpected lunges.
Your puppy's place is close to you on the loose leash, preferably on your left side and with his nose level or just in front of your knee.
As usual, training starts the moment the puppy enters the house for the first time. When the worst itching and scratching is over and the puppy has accepted that the collar cannot be removed, you may take him for a walk after having attached the leash. Both collar and leash should be leather or nylon flat bands (nylon does not shrink when wet). Now, talk encouragingly to him and try to lure him along. Don' drag him after you because the situation must never become traumatic experience. If he is protesting wildly, convinced that the collar will choke him to death, then sit down, take him between your legs, pat him and say some soothing words. Soon he will understand that there's no danger in being on a leash. It will not be long before he connects the leash with "going for a walk", reacting cheerfully when you take out the leash. The first moments of doubt are soon forgotten....
Now time has come for some more serious training. Your pupil walks on your left side. Always use the command "HEEL". If he moves over to the right, then he receives a sharp jerk, followed by the "HEEL" command. Likewise, if he strains forward or lags behind. It's quite useless to drag the lead. After some time he walks sedately without straining or lagging on a loose lead. Don't forget to praise him when he is responding correctly.
Of course there are distractions underway in need of further investigation, such as a telephone pole, a tussock, a stranger walking by, a piece of chocolate wrapping fluttering around. Don't let yourself be dragged along, remember you decide direction and speed … NEVER the pup (he should not believe so, at least). When he starts dragging, say "HEEL", jerk and praise again when the lead is hanging loose. Repeat this EVERY TIME AND THE MOMENT he drags. Remember to praise accordingly. As long as he's a puppy you'd probably have no problems if he was dragging you, however, as he grows up you'll feel quite suddenly that even an SMP can be extremely strong. There is not one good reason why you should be dragged along. You will not arrive faster and the walk will be unpleasant and stressing for both of you.