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Dog Training: How To Teach Your Dog To Walk Beside You

Posted by Glady Gines on

Dog Training: How To Teach Your Dog To Walk Beside You

Nothing beats a walk with your furry friend since it gives you time to bond while exercising outside. While some dogs are well-mannered and stay near one side of their owners, we can’t say that’s the case for all dogs. Many dogs tug on their leashes or rush to either side of the path to sniff everything they can. This can frustrate even the most patient owner, and it’s bad doggy manners. In this dog training guide, we’ll detail how to teach your dog to walk beside you to make every walk safe and fun! 

Have High-Value Treats

Dogs tug on the leash for two main reasons: to follow a scent or to follow something that excites them, like another dog or person. Depending on the size of your pup, tugging on the leash may bring them closer to the source of interest. However, this can be dangerous since you could fall over if your dog is strong enough. 

Rather than allow your pooch to pull the leash, redirect their attention with high-value treats. Often, this means biscuits or dehydrated dog treats—options like dehydrated beef liver are a healthy canine favorite! Think about which treats your dog gobbles up and bring these with you on walks. If your pup becomes distracted, call their name and feed them one of the treats. Doing this redirects their attention to you and rewards them for listening. 

Mix in Praise

While every dog loves a tasty biscuit, many also respond positively to praise. When your pooch quits pulling on the leash, tell your pup what a “good dog” they are. 

Add the “Heel” Command 

Alongside food, you should use a command for proper behavior and reward your pooch anytime they display it. For example, if you’re walking your dog and they see a canine friend, they may pull the leash to greet them. If this happens, call your dog’s name to get their attention and show them the treat. Use the leash to direct them to the side you want them walking on—often, this is your left side. Once your dog stands at the proper side, say, “Heel,” and give them a treat. Continue this process whenever they pull on the leash or walk ahead; eventually, they will associate the command with the action and reward.

Tricks vs. Commands

Instructing your dog to heel is similar to training tricks like “sit” or “paw.” While teaching a dog a trick is fun and wonderful for mental stimulation, training commands such as “heel” and “come” are essential to canine safety. Practice the “heel” command every time you walk to ensure your pup learns it. 

Stop Walking

By “stop walking,” we don’t mean avoiding going on walks, as this won’t correct the behavior. Instead, slow down or pause and maintain a firm grip on the leash anytime your pooch tries dragging you along. This forces your dog to stop and helps them realize the walk will not proceed if they tug on the leash.

Invest in a Quality Harness

In addition to displaying poor canine manners, leash pulling can hurt your dog if they wear a collar. Experts at PetMD explain that collars can damage a dog’s neck if they pull hard on the leash during walks. This is because yanking on the leash puts pressure on their collar, especially if you pull in the opposite direction to regain control.

Your dog should still always wear a collar with identification tags on walks. But instead of just a collar, consider investing in a dual-clip harness and double-clip leash. A dual-clip harness has a loop on the front and back. When the leash is hooked to the front area, your dog must turn their attention to you whenever you pull back on the leash. A harness can also give you more control over your dog since it goes over the torso, which creates a wider coverage area. 

Buy Other Walking Essentials

Another way to keep your dog close on walks is with a dog walking belt. This specialized belt effortlessly keeps you and your dog together by letting you clip one end of the leash to the belt and the other end to your pup’s harness.

At DogGoods®, our dog walking belt bag even comes with pouches to hold your water bottle and dog treats! This hands-free walking tool is beneficial if you pause your walk since it keeps your pup close to you while you redirect their attention.

Attend Obedience Class

Correcting a canine’s behavior isn’t always easy. Some dogs are stubborn and only want to do things their way. Additionally, if you’ve allowed leash pulling for months or years, your pooch may not see an issue with the behavior.

At an obedience class, you’ll get help from a doggy expert and learn the best methods for correcting your pup. A trainer can also teach you the ideal ways of holding the leash so you can maintain as much control as possible to prevent leash pulling. 

Start Small

When you first start teaching your dog leash etiquette, stick to shorter walks. Going for long walks and constantly correcting your pup won’t necessarily make them learn faster and can leave both of you frustrated. Instead, go for frequent short walks and increase the distance as your pup’s behavior improves.

Additionally, another small dog training tip to teach your dog to walk beside you is to do figure eights. Leash your dog and walk around your house or yard, moving in a figure eight motion or making constant turns so your pup must remain by your side.

Practice Makes Perfect

Chances are your dog won’t master the art of walking etiquette on the first walk. Training your dog takes time, and all canines learn at different rates. However, remaining consistent in the “heel” command and other expectations makes your pooch more likely to understand what you want and learn more quickly. By taking the time to teach your pup what you expect, they’ll master the art of walking. Now you’re better equipped to enjoy every outdoor moment with your furry friend!