Why It's Important For Your Dog To Follow You
Have you ever been pulled off your feet by your dog? Wouldn’t you prefer for your dog to learn to follow you, even if there were no leash?
They aren’t dragging you down the street to be combattive; they actually want to please you. When your dog believes it’s their duty to encounter any dangers before you do, they control the walk. However, if you show them that you can communicate clearly, be the strong leader they need, and then build trust between you, they’ll relax and take their cues from you no matter what you encounter.
When we teach leash training, our goal is to get you and your pup to the point where the leash is there only for security. Once your dog trusts you to lead them, why wouldn’t they simply follow you?
Here are a few quick tips to get your dog to stop pulling on the leash:
Start each walk by having your dog come to you, not the other way around. By establishing that you are the leader, your dog will be more likely to fall in line when you go outside. Grab the leash and call your dog to you. Ensure they wait calmly, either sitting or standing, while you attach the leash.
Don’t let your dog rush out the door. In fact, don’t let your dog get ahead of you at all. A properly-trained dog will stay beside or slightly behind you and let you lead. It will help your dog feel more comfortable and confident during the walk.
Keep your dog's attention and focus on you. An excited, unfocused dog can get distracted and could even dart into the path of danger. Do what you need to do in order to keep your pet’s attention on you and your commands.
Don’t let your own distractions cause your dog to lose confidence in you as their leader. Walk tall, keep your dog close, and never let them drag you or pull on the lead. Retractable leashes can make this last part difficult, so stick to standard leashes if possible.
Let your dog have a few minutes to do their business before you begin your actual walk. Don’t let them get away with marking territory only for the sake of it. Keep them focused and moving so they're not tempted to leave their scent every few feet.
Finally, please don't let your dog off their leash unless you are in a designated leash-free area. This is for your dog’s safety as well as the safety of others!
Get out there and enjoy walking your pup often, daily if possible. Walking or hiking together is an opportunity not only to get exercise and fresh air, but to build and reinforce the kind of relationship you want to have with your dog. Walking to heel, coming when called, and gate/door manners are all valuable basics that can sharpen your dog’s response to you.
Remember, though, that if your walks are still frustrating your local Bark Busters trainer would be happy to help you.