I may not be a fashionista, but even I know that a good pair of heels can be used for many different occasions and is a staple in every woman’s wardrobe. And like a favourite pair of heels, the dog training version of a casual heel is also great for every occasion.
The casual heel vs. the standard heel
A standard heel is also known as a focused heel or competition heel as this is used in dog obedience trials. This is a commanded obedience activity where the dog is on the left hand side of the handler, the dogs front legs are in line with the handlers legs and the dog is looking up at the handler giving complete focus.
The casual heel is a much more relaxed version of a standard heel. In a casual heel, the positioning is the same but not as strict. There can be more space between the two and the legs don’t have to line up and the dog is able to look away and check where they are going. Also, the dog can be on the right side of the body instead if you want.
When to use a casual heel
Well, on your everyday dog walks of course! The casual heel is a great tool to have in your toolkit to pull out whenever needed, wherever you are.
1. Stop pulling on the lead.
Because the casual heel position is close to you and requires some focus and attention from your dog, being in a casual heel means they are not out in front of you pulling! Even though this position is not intended for a full dog walk, it is a good way to remind your dog to walk nicely on a loose lead and can be a great way to bond with your dog during an otherwise distracting outing.
The world is full of distractions, especially for dogs! There are so many things happening all around them and so many different things to scent. One of the main ways we use a casual heel is to get our dogs past distractions, especially if we are quick enough to notice them before our dogs do.
Here are some examples of distractions to casually heel your dog past:
- Cats!!! (Yes, I’m looking at you Ruby)
- Othe dogs;
- Another doggy’s mess at the park;
- Human food, especially cooked bones left out;
- Rubbish etc.
3. Crossing the road.
If your dog likes to charge across the road, putting them in the casual heel can be a safe alternative. Plus this is almost the perfect length of time to practice the casual heel to build up the distance in this position. And, usually, a dog is happy to start off in a sit since they are at the kerbside which makes it easier to get their attention before you step off.