Knowing how to train a Blue Heeler to walk on a leash will make life a lot easier for owners of this energetic herding dog.
This is a highly intelligent and energetic herding breed that was literally made to spend life outside doing hard work.
These guys love to work, and without lots of exercise, they’ll get bored and often become destructive.
That’s why plenty of physical activity and mental stimulation is key to having a happy Heeler.
Because of their inquisitive, energetic nature, it’s important to know how to train a Blue Heeler to walk on a leash, so both you and your dog have a good time out there.
Related: Blue Heeler Harness Reviews
Why Blue Heelers Pull
As I already mentioned, Blue Heelers are a breed full of curiosity and energy in equal measures.
While that makes for a great working dog, it doesn’t always make for the best walking companion.
Just like Toucan Sam, Heelers follow their noses, and they don’t pay much attention to anything outside of a smell they’ve picked up if it really catches their interest.
As soon as they find something interesting, they’re after it full-force. Literally full-force.
They pull, and they pull hard without training. It’s not their fault. They’re dogs. It’s what they do.
However, knowing how to get them to walk nicely goes a long way to keeping them safe and keeping your arms in their sockets.
The main reasons Blue Heelers pull are:
- Visual stimuli – animals, dogs, cats, people, etc.
- Sounds – barking, animal sounds, children
All of these things pique his interest and will have him bounding off to go see what’s going on. He won’t think twice, and he will absolutely drag you along with him if he’s able.
Don’t worry, though. You can actually train a Blue Heeler to walk on a leash fairly easily.
How to Stop a Blue Heeler from Pulling on a Leash
Part of knowing how to train a Blue Heeler to walk on a leash is knowing how to get him to stop pulling.
The first thing you need to know is that you should never pull back on the leash when your dog starts to pull.
It seems counterintuitive that you wouldn’t pull him toward you, but think about what happens when you pull. He’s already pulling.
When you pull back, he only pulls harder. So while you’re trying to get him to stop the behavior, you’re actually encouraging him to go harder against the leash.
Luckily, the two methods below are excellent for stopping your Heeler from pulling as you train him or to help train him out of pulling if he’s an older guy.
There are a lot of super interesting distractions out in the world, so be sure to bring out the big guns, er, treats on your walks.
Bring the smelliest, tastiest, most doggy-licious treats you have that he loves. When he starts to pull, pull out the treats and say his name.
He has a strong nose, and he’ll smell the treat relatively quickly.
This will distract him from whatever is causing him to pull because he just can’t say no to that delicious treat in your hand.
The “Tree” Method
If your Heeler starts pulling, become a “tree”. Stand very still, refusing to move until your dog comes back to you.
Again, don’t yank or jerk on the leash or try to power your dog back to you. Just stand there, stock-still until he stops pulling and comes back.
How to Train a Blue Heeler to Walk on a Leash
More than likely, if you’re searching for how to train a Blue Heeler to Walk on a Leash, you have a Blue Heeler pup.
I’m betting you’re already realizing that you’re going to have to teach him manners. That’s okay.
Remember, this breed was made for roaming, so it’s a bit against their nature to walk nicely.
That being said, it can be done, and it’s not that difficult.
You’ll notice that unlike some other posts on the site, only one method of training for walking on-leash is listed here.
That’s because leash training is one of those rare skills that is essentially taught the same way to every dog. That being said, we’ve tailored it to the needs of a Blue Heeler.
Fortunately, addressing the unique needs of a Blue Heeler mainly boils down to training owners, which can be done with words – although getting treats would be nice.
Blue Heeler Training Look Outs
Remember, Blue Heelers are highly intelligent, which is a good thing.
They also have a tendency to want to lead the pack, which is not so good.
Training your Blue Heeler to walk on leash is going to require patience on your part, especially if he’s older.
Don’t worry, though, although this breed can be stubborn, they do take to training well if you practice patience, consistency, and firmness.
- Be Firm: This does not mean to be forceful or mean. Firm simply means being authoritative. Give commands calmly and confidently and never give in to your dog.
- Be Consistent: Blue Heelers are a smart breed, but they still need you to be consistent in your training and signals so they can learn.
- Be Patient: An independent breed that wants to lead like the Heeler requires a lot of patience on the owner’s part.
- Positive Reinforcement: ONLY use positive reinforcement. Your Heeler may have his own ideas about things, but in the end, you’re family to him. He wants to please you.
- Reward Liberally: Because Heelers are so smart and driven, if you reward them liberally, they’ll quickly learn that doing what they’re asked means LOTS of great things for them.
Training a Blue Heeler Puppy
Start training your puppy to the leash early. This can be done as early as 8 weeks of age. Remember, puppies learn incredibly well, so earlier is better.
Acclimation to the Gear
- Start with a small, lightweight collar and a light leash.
- Put the collar and leash on your pup, and let him walk around the house with them on while you offer treats and praise.
- Do this until your Heeler is completely at ease with his walking equipment.
The Follow Game
- Choose a distraction-free training area.
- Grab a handful of treats and show them to your pup.
- While holding the treats, move a few steps away. If your pup follows, offer praise and one of the treats.
- When your puppy comes to your side, offer more treats and praise and then move in another direction.
- As you move around, continue to encourage your puppy to follow you.
- Repeat the process a few times in one session and repeat the session daily or a couple of times a day.
Combining the Two
- Pick a spot in the home with no distractions.
- Put the leash and collar on your pup.
- Guide your puppy around on the leash, keeping them next to you.
- Immediately stop moving if your puppy pulls on the leash.
- Repeat the process. Eventually, your puppy will realize that if he pulls, you stop, which means he doesn’t go anywhere.
- Graduate to the outdoors after your puppy has mastered leash walking in the house.
- Remember, it’s harder to guide your dog outside where all the distractions are. Practice repetition, patience, and the distraction and tree methods if he pulls.
Training an Adult Blue Heeler
Training an adult Blue Heeler to walk on a leash is essentially the same process as the one for puppies.
The only difference is that your dog probably already knows what a leash and collar.
The main thing you’ll be doing with an adult dog is teaching him not to pull.
Doing that is as easy as the distraction and tree methods listed above.
How Long Should You Walk a Blue Heeler
Blue Heelers are working dogs that were bred to roam while herding livestock, so they can walk quite a long way.
In general, walk your Heeler puppy very short distances.
At that age, they need all their energy to grow, so dedicated walks should only be long enough for them to do their business.
Of course, playing in the house or outside is another story. Puppies need playtime, and at that young age, playtime gives them plenty of exercise.
As your Blue Heeler grows, you can increase the length of your walks.
Eventually, your walk will be limited by how far you’re willing to go rather than how far your Heeler wants to go.
With their inquisitive nature and inborn ability to cover distance, they’ll almost always want to walk further than you do.
It’s Easy When You Know How to Train a Blue Heeler to Walk on a Leash
With their high intelligence, training Blue Heelers can be easier than you think.
Although, with their independent nature and tendency to be stubborn at times, it can be just as hard as you think IF you don’t know how to do it.
If you take your time and start him early, your Blue Heeler will walk on a leash like a champ.
So now that you know how to train a Blue Heeler to walk on a leash, put it into action and get your pup started on the road to, well, walking on the road.