Where did the term, heel, originate?
The term, heel, originated in Middle English. Though the term has many different meanings, when applied to dogs it means to follow at one’s heels. Other definitions with similar meanings include following directly behind or immediately following. Thus, when a dog heels, he is closely following at his owner’s side.
Teaching a dog to heel can be a very difficult task, as it goes against a dog’s nature. Dogs normally want to walk freely, away from their owners, in order to explore and experience the world. When heeling, a dog is virtually pinned to the owner’s side, walking stride by stride with the owner.
Heeling is generally used when there is a potentially dangerous situation to avoid, when there are children or other dogs present, or during obedience training. When teaching a dog to heel, the owner will use a very short leash and remain in control of the dog the entire duration of the heeling walk. Heeling shouldn’t necessarily be used for longer, more relaxed walks.