Nothing is more challenging than taking your dog for a walk, and all he does is pull you on the leash, circle around you, and do everything except walk beside you. This can indicate that your pup is not getting the exercise he needs, which simultaneously means you aren’t getting yours either. Therefore, training your canine to walk beside you is one of the most important and easier skills to teach your dog, as it could save his life.
The only thing that makes this skill difficult for your dog is that all he wants is to sniff absolutely anything and everything along the way. Your dog is likely to be unhappy with you keeping him on a leash that controls him from doing so. However, once he gets accustomed to being by your side, you can enjoy long, calm, relaxing walks.
Tools Required to Train a Dog to Walk Beside You
- Dog Collars
- Dog Harness
- Dog Treats
Steps to Teach a Dog to Walk Beside You
Step 1: Start Small
- Before you start, find a good training space inside your home. A four-foot-by-four-foot area of any clear space in your home is perfect. Keep windows closed and put away any toys to ensure your dog isn’t distracted for leash training.
- Once you’re in your space, you only need a few things to start training. First, ensure your dog is on a leash and on your left side. Second, have a few treats ready to reinforce good habits.
Step 2: Pick a Side
Decide on which side you want your dog to walk before starting and stick to it. The left-hand side is traditional, but you can always use the right-hand side if you prefer.
Step 3: Use a Standard Leash
For the initial stages of training, use a standard-length leash. This will give you more control. Just don’t let your pup pull you along and give him a little room to maneuver.
Step 4: Lure Him In
Call your pup to your side using his favorite treat as a lure. Then, when he moves into position, be sure to praise him and treat him.
Step 5: Work It On Out
Keep practicing this using a healthy supply of treats, adding in your choice of command. For example, you could use “side.” In time, it will become a routine to step to your side each time you bring the leash.
Step 6: Step Out
It’s now time to head out for the first walk. Grab the standard-length leash, give your command, and your dog should step right up. Hook him up and go out for a short walk. Give him lots of praise and a treat if he behaves on the walk. Then, keep extending the walks until you can go anywhere with him without the need for treats.
Step 7: Taking Off
Hook your dog to his leash, call his name, and start walking away briskly without looking back. Your dog should follow you and try to catch up with you on the side you have the leash held. When he doesn’t come to your side, slow down, call his name, and use a treat to lure him to your side.
Step 8: Change directions
Once your dog seems comfortable walking by your side in straight lines, you should start changing directions, such as zig-zagging. This also helps to reinforce the concept that your dog needs to be by your side at all times.
Step 9: Practice makes perfect
Practice often to curb your dog’s natural desire to wander and sniff at absolutely everything he walks, from the smallest blade of grass to the spot where the dog passes by marking his territory. So keep practicing until your dog walks by your preferred side. Do not forget to give him treats whenever he behaves well and make him understand that the process is fun.
- Be sure to hold your treat hand at your chest to prevent luring and jumping while walking if your treat hand is just out of reach.
- For obedience and rally competitions, “Heel” is traditionally on your left-hand side.
- Treat your dog with the hand next to him to prevent him from crossing you to get the treat.
- Always praise your dog when he is correct with a click or by saying “yes.”
How to Train a Dog to Walk Beside You? Videos
Your dog can take time to walk right by your side whether you have just adopted a new puppy or need to train a pull-happy dog. However, that doesn’t mean teaching your dog must feel like a chore. On the contrary, training your dog to walk beside you can be a fun bonding and a serious training experience. If you stay engaged and ensure your dog is still excited to learn, both you and your dog will be able to walk side-by-side in no time.