Should I Let My Dog Walk in Front of Me? (Solved & Explained!)

If you are walking your dog on-leash, you should not allow your dog to walk in front of you. By doing so, your dog will believe that it is supposed to lead you and is the alpha of the pack. This can lead to a variety of behavioral problems that make dogs mentally unstable and difficult to train.

The rest of the article will go in-depth about why your dog should not walk in front of you, how to properly walk your dog, the psychology of dogs in relation to their walks, and how to correct your dog if it walks in front of you.

What does your dog think when you let it walk in front of you?

When you let your dog walk in front of you, it will believe that it is the alpha and that its job is to lead you. According to Sharon Maguire of the Dog Breed Info Center, this can be distressing for the dog, as it will cause stress to build up from the dog’s perceived responsibility of leading the pack.

Why is it a problem for your dog to believe they are the leader?

If your dog gets used to walking in front of you, it can develop a variety of behavioral problems. This can be very difficult to correct and make training your dog much harder.

What behavioral problems can arise if you let your dog walk in front of you?

The behavioral problems that can arise include hyperactivity, insubordination, tugging on the leash, aggressive behavior towards other dogs, unstable and erratic moods, and more. Walking your dog to the side of you is vital to your dog’s all-around mental health and behavior.

What are some reasons that my dog might have started walking in front of me?

Your dog might have started to walk in front of you because you changed the walk schedule, changed routes, or started giving it less attention. Aside from these disruptions, your dog also might have started walking in front of you because it wants to go faster, it is engaging in protective behavior, it has a lot of energy, you haven’t trained it to walk properly yet, or it wants  attention.

What is the correct way to walk my dog?

The correct way to walk your dog is to walk it to the side of you. If you walk your dog to the side of you, it will learn that you are the leader and develop well-adjusted behavioral patterns and also reap more health benefits from the walks.

What do I need to do in order to walk my dog correctly?

In order to walk your dog correctly, you need to establish that you are the leader. You need to show your dog that you are the one who decides when the walk starts and ends, and you need to guide your dog when it gets off course to ensure that it will continue to follow your lead.

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Why is it better for my dog to walk beside me?

When your dog walks to your side, your dog will recognize that you are the owner and the person responsible for leading and caring for the dog. Your dog is more likely to develop normal behavioral tendencies and interpret your relationship correctly if you let it walk to your side.

What verbal cues should I use to train my dog to walk properly?

If your dog knows its name, you should call its name and invite it to join you for the walk as you are getting ready to walk out the door. You should also reaffirm it with words like “yes” followed by a treat in order to reward it for good behavior.

What about sled dogs who are trained to pull the sled from the front? Is it still important to train them to walk on the side?

Sled dogs still can and should be trained to walk on your side. Sled dogs view pulling a sled as working for their humans, so they still can also view walking on your side as part of their role in the pack.

What should I do if my dog walks ahead of me due to a distraction?

Start off by repositioning yourself relative to your dog and give the leash a tug to get it back on track. If the dog is still not cooperating, you can tap it gently to get its attention back on you and also use verbal cues.

What pace should I walk to keep my dog from getting ahead of me?

While you don’t need to speed walk, you should walk at a confident and steady pace that will allow you to maintain leadership in the situation. Walk at your normal speed but be sure that you are consistent and deliberate, since your dog can detect when there is tension or if you are not a commanding leader.

How often should I let my dog stop to use the bathroom when I am training it to walk beside me?

If your dog indicates that it wants to use the bathroom and you are in a suitable area, allow it to go. Be wary of when your dog is just sniffing out the area to mark its territory, as this can be a sign that it might try to walk in front of you.

If I let my dog walk off-leash, is it okay to let it walk in front of me?

The same caution of ensuring that your dog doesn’t assume that it is the pack leader applies whether you walk your dog on- or off- leash. However, you can train your dog to explore the area in front of you and return as long as you are careful to establish your leadership role.

How often should I walk my dog to ensure that it develops good behaviors?

You should take your dog on a walk everyday, if possible. Daily walks help keep your dog in good physical and mental health and prevent them from developing behavioral issues.