Teaching a Boxer How to Heel

Boxers are loveable and protective family members.

Boxers are loveable and protective family members.

The boxer received his name from standing on his hind legs and batting at large game with his front paws. Boxers are instinctively active dogs who love to jump. To teach a boxer of any age the “heel” command, he must first start from a “sit” position without bouncing around.

Exercise your boxer by playing fetch with a ball or tug-of-war with a rope toy. Give him a workout for about 20 minutes so he will release his pent-up energy and be calm when you start his training session.

Cut up some of his favorite dog treats into tiny, pea-sized pieces. Use a kind of treat that you only give him for positive reinforcement in training purposes. Place the cut treats into a treat pouch or fanny pack and place it around your waist. This makes it easy to give rewards to your pooch while training.

Snap your dog’s leash onto his collar. If he is jumping with excitement, wait until he sits quietly before attaching the leash. He needs to be patient and quiet for training.

Take your pet into a quiet environment without distractions, such as a backyard with a fence.

Walk into the training area with the leash in your left hand and your boxer on your left side about 4 inches from your left leg. Tell him to “sit.” If he does not know how to sit, switch the leash into your right hand and hold it loosely. Hold a treat in your right hand between your waist and shoulder and let him see it. Gently press down on his rear end with your left hand to put him in a sitting position. His head will be up while looking at the treat, so when you press on his rear, it will be natural to sit. Give him a treat and praise him for sitting.

Hold the leash loosely in your left hand with a treat between your waist and shoulder in your right hand. Call his name and get his attention so he focuses on the treat. If he jumps and tries to get the treat, put him back in the sit position.

Walk forward two steps with a loose leash. If he does not walk forward with you, call his name. State the command “heel,” and give him the treat when he walks to you. Give him lots of praise and petting. Continue walking forward about two steps at a time for three or four times for practice. If he is not walking with you at this point, end the training session and repeat it the next day until he will heel for two steps at a time continuously.

Put your dog in a sit position and work with him by walking for several steps with the “heel” command. Pick up your pace and walk briskly. When you stop walking, put him in the “sit” position and give him a treat. Have him “heel” by walking over longer distances in each training session. If he becomes distracted or starts pulling on the leash or not cooperating, end the training session for that day.

Items you will need

  • Ball or rope pull toy
  • Dog treats
  • Knife
  • Treat pouch
  • Leash

Tips

  • Boxers tend to have a lot of energy and are very playful dogs. You should give him exercise before a training session so he is calm and receptive to the commands. Walk him with the “heel” command while training in addition to his regular exercise routine.
  • When your dog concentrates on the treat in your hand with undivided attention, he will walk with you while looking at the “prize” and naturally follow the treat.
  • Limit trained sessions to about 10 minutes at first, then lengthen them as he becomes accustomed to the new command.

Warning

  • If your boxer is particularly jumpy, do not over praise him or he will get too excited, start jumping and not absorb the training in that session.
 

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