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Trail etiquette

When hunting boar in Europe with game wardens I’ve respected how their dogs heel a step behind them on single tracks and in thick cover, so I’ve followed their example for several reasons to include; 1. I meet on coming hikers and their poorly behaved dogs first so I can leash mine if potential for trouble, and 2. the dog doesn’t always have to be in front - as a pack animal I think having him heel a step behind in situations where I want complete control is good for his psyche,

I’m the pack leader and reassuring for him to know he doesn’t have to try to be.


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Kurt Vercauteren
Kurt Vercauteren
Jun 04, 2022

For me Heel usually means head about even with my right knee as walking (I shoot left handed). Teaching to be a step behind comes easily. I only have the dog behind in tight cover/trails and when it feels safer, like on a track when a wounded big game animal gets up and I want the hunter, who I don’t know if they are competent or a wingnut, to get ahead of me and shoot.


Kurt, Is that what you use for your heel position in all situations, or do you teach 2 positions?

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German hunters and I teach the dog to heel even with the knee. Hunters very seldom come in contact with hikers. All most, all land out side the towns and village are leased hunting lands. They do have walking roads and paths for the public, but the public is aware of the hunters and try to avoid them by staying out of the woods and fields during the early and late hours. All dogs have to be on a lead while in a hunting lease. Up until 1997, all dogs (off a lead) and cats more than 200 meters from a domestic building were considered a poaching animal and could be legally shot. After 1997 the law changed and re…

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