What is the best heeling stick? (ANSWERED)

best heeling stick on the market
Photo by Stuart Black via Flickr. Used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

My German Shepherd dog needed to learn how to heel. I found it so much easier to teach the behavior with the best heeling stick.

Whether you are pet-dog trainer, a professional aiming for competitive obedience and positioning, or somewhere in between, a good dog training stick will help teach the heel behavior.

Find good heeling sticks in 2022 on Amazon.

Avery Outdoors 01851 Trainer’s Heeling Stick Hunting Dog Equipment, Blaze Orange

Avery Outdoors 01851 Dog Trainer Heeling Stick
The Avery Outdoors 01851 dog heeling stick is 36 inches long. It is a flexible fiberglass rod, which has a wrist strap and a handle. It boasts a PVC tip, which has been glued to the rod.

The blaze orange color should make it easy to see in the field when using it as a schutzhund heeling stick.

SportDOG Brand Deluxe Heel Stick

SportDog brand deluxe heeling stick

The SportDOG Brand deluxe heeling stick is 34 inches long. The tool features a stiff design and a “extra long, no-slip rubber handle,” according to SportDOG. This hunting dog training tool features a stiff design.

The red color should make it easy to see during field training, as well.

DIY heeling stick option

Some folks may like to customize or make a obedience heeling and positioning stick rather than buy one.

Here are a couple DIY options:

  • Use a wiffle bat, which is very inexpensive. A large issue is the bat itself, especially if you buy the jumbo sized — it’s too big to cart around and store. But it is a cheap canine heeling stick.
  • A horse whip is another option . Many people will cut the whip off, cut the shaft to the desired length, then rubber-dip the shaft — much like the rubber / plastic coating on tool handles.

One benefit of the whip is a custom fit. You have complete control on where to cut it, which impacts its height and flexibility.

Teaching a dog to heel: My anecdotal experience

Watching a K9 heeling is impressive. The handler and dog move in unison.

Although a good dog heel behavior can be taught in different ways, here is one method in abbreviated form. It is no way the right or wrong way to teach a dog to heel. The method worked for me; it may or may not work for you.

One item I did learn is this: Many people misunderstand what a dog training stick does. You will get strange looks if you take a heeling stick in public.

An obedience heeling and positioning stick is not to harm the dog. It provides a way to communicate with the dog. For example, the dog can see the stick in front of him / her and realize that it is a barrier — a visual blockage not to cross.

With the stick in your right hand, hold it to form a 45 degree angle pointing at the ground across knees. Remember: The heeling stick provides a visual boundary, which the dog can see.

If the dog pushes ahead, a very light tap with the heeling stick on the chest is applied. It is important to note that this is a light tap, not a whack. Don’t abuse your dog. (Tap your arm ahead of time to educate yourself about the intensity of the tap needed.)

The same technique is applied if the dog falls behind. Instead of a chest tap, the tap is on the dog’s behind.

I used another method which requires a prong collar and a short leash. With the prong collar, the dog auto corrects when he/she gets too far out or too far behind. The dog learns the heeling zone.

But, I wanted to move away from the prong collar. I found a great video about heeling and using a training stick on YouTube.

The method this trainer suggests is to use the heeling stick as a pendulum to swing in front of the dog’s nose. If the dog gets slightly ahead, the heeling stick swings in front and spooks the dog.

Find the best heeling sticks in 2022 on Amazon.

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