Dog Obedience training
by Dennis Fisher.

This article is one of a great many articles written by Dennis Fisher about a very wide variety of subjects concerning different  dogs, such as obedience training, breeding, showing, health matters, training problems and other subjects.  All these articles appear on Dennis Fisher's websites.   Visit the site that has been set up specifically for German Shepherd Dog enthusiasts, or  if you interested in a breed   other than German Shepherd Dogs





Quite apart from the importance of teaching the dog to heel on lead, comfortably on your left side, for obedience tests, it is absolutely essential to have your dog under control when taking him for a walk even if you are not in the slightest bit interested in obedience competitions.


There are basically two ways to teach your dog to heel on lead.  The first way is the old-fashion way, which does involve an element  of compulsion, and the second way is the motivational way, which relies on food or a play object.


It is perhaps unfair to call the first way a ”forced” method, because even though it does involve an element of compulsion, using the word “forced” gives the impression that the a choker chain- a linked chain collar – was placed on the dog and the dog was dragged along by the leash, whether it wanted to follow you or not.


This was certainly not the case, even with the so called “old fashioned” method of leash training.  What  in effect happened, was that the trainer would place  a training collar – a collar with small chain links – on the dog’s next, attached a lead and encourage the dog to follow on his left side by means of continual, gently, little jerks on the lead. The accent is on the word “gentle” not harsh or vigorous.


 This would result in a snap-like action on the collar.  The trainer would encourage the dog to follow by calling it’s name in a encouraging, persuasive tone. The encouraging tone of voice accompanied by the sound of the little jerks on the choker chain would encourage the dog to follow.


The reasoning behind this method of training was that the dog would soon realize that it would be most comfortable when it walked at a stead pace  next to the handler, without pulling ahead or lagging back.


When the handler turned right the handler would give a sharp tug on the lead, not dragging the dog, but giving a quick jerk and release of the lead. 

In many cases this method of training worked extremely well.


 Thousands of dogs were  trained very successfully  by this method.  Many obedience champions were trained in this way.

There is no doubt however that there are tremendous variations in temperaments of different dogs and especially the dog’s reaction to the leash training.


 Many dogs  seem to have an inborn resistance to the leash.  In many cases it is possible because the initial introduction to the leash was not well managed. But there is little doubt that some dogs are definitely more amenable to leash training than others.


There are dogs who strongly object to being trained in this “old-fashioned”  way.  They can eventually be trained in this way, but show their resentment by looking very miserable and depressed and do not follow the trainer in a happy, carefree way.


The “modern” method of training – although it cannot really be termed “modern” because it has been in use for many years now – is to use motivational methods to encourage the dog to walk, pleasantly and happily on lead.


The common motivational object is food.  Food, like a piece of boiled liver, held in the left hand in front of the nose of a pup, is a wonderful inducement to follow you willingly on your left side.  It’s not even necessary to give the food to the pup.  It is used as an inducement to persuade the pup to follow you willingly and happily.



Another convenient motivational aid is the dog’s toy, or a ball that he loves to chase.  Here again some dog’s have more natural “prey” drive than others. 


The  dog views the ball as the prey object and when it is thrown nothing give them greater pleasure than to chase it.


Instead  of the food you can use the ball – or toy – as the inducement to persuade the dog to heel comfortably on your left side.