While it’s fun to watch your dog leading, this is not something that you want to get in the habit of. When your dog is walking in front, you are telling them that they are the Alpha of the Pack, which basically means that the dog outranks you!
Allowing this can lead to bad behavior in the home, as your dog will think that they are in charge and do as they like. To prevent this, start by getting in the habit of always being the first one through doors. This establishes that you are dominant, because you go first.
You can also eat your own meals before serving your dog, if they are being particularly difficult, and when you walk your dog make sure that they are walking behind you or at your side – never ahead.
Establishing yourself as the Alpha is vital, otherwise you will spend a lot of time training your dog out of bad behaviors that they’ll develop while thinking that they are ‘in charge’.
In today’s article, we’re going to answer some of the most popular questions on the web regarding the do’s and don’t of walking your dog. Why do dogs zigzag I front of you? Why should dogs walk on your left side?
Read on for the answers to these important questions and more – details are waiting for you below!
Table of Contents
- How do I train my dog not to walk in front of me?
- Does it matter which side your dog walks on?
- Why are dogs supposed to walk on the left?
- Why should dogs heel on the left at dog shows?
- Should I drag my puppy on a walk?
- Why does my dog always want to be in front?
- Why does my dog walk zig zag in front of me?
- Should you let your dog sniff while walking?
- Why do old dogs walk sideways?
- Can you hurt your dog by pulling on the leash?
How do I train my dog not to walk in front of me?
Training your dog not to walk in front of you takes a lot of time and patience, but if you are consistent, then your dog will learn! It also happens to be easy to do, so again, consistency will be key. Here is what you need to do:
- Take your dog out and walk them and walk at your normal pace. If your dog walks a little bit behind you or next to you, then keep walking.
- When your dog tries to get in front of you, then you should immediately stop. Your dog may pull against you but you need to stay still.
- When your dog stops and sits, give them a treat, and start walking again. When your dog walks next to you, give them the occasional treat to reinforce this behavior.
- As soon as your dog runs ahead of you again, stop, and repeat the process.
Over time, your dog and their desire of those treats will teach them that walking next to you is the best option for a fun, treat filled walk outside. Just be patient with the process and always stop when your dog gets ahead of you – they’ll get the message!
Does it matter which side your dog walks on?
The left side is going to be the best. For one thing, walking to your left helps to establish that you are the Alpha, and this will be very important. Your dog will understand with a little practice and this helps to assert your position in the ‘pack’.
Another reason why left is important is that traditionally when you are walking, you will stay on the right side of the path and pass on the left, and so teaching your dog to stay on the left is also quite practical.
Why are dogs supposed to walk on the left?
It’s more a matter of practicality and establishing dominance. Ultimately, you could train them to walk on the right and still be considered the dominant member of the pack, it’s just that traditionally a dog walks to the left of the Alpha.
That said, your dog doesn’t have any preconceived notions of the ‘right way’ to walk outside, so you can certainly make your own rules and let your dog walk on your right, just reinforce this behavior with treats and stopping the walk whenever your dog doesn’t comply.
The important thing is consistency and the rest is just practice from your dog until it comes naturally.
Why should dogs heel on the left at dog shows?
This is an ‘obedience competition’ standard that you will see at dog shows. By tradition, the dog will be on your left side, and you’ll be holding a treat against your chest, rather than ‘trailing’ your hand down so that the dog is tempted to lunge or jump for the treat.
Your dog then is still following the food, on your left side, and calmly walking beside you just as you have trained them to do.
Should I drag my puppy on a walk?
No, don’t drag your poor puppy along. Rather, you want to coax them. This can be done by calling them to you or simply by holding a treat out of reach and every so often giving them that treat, then putting a replacement in your hand to coax them along further.
The first walks can be stressful for a pup. All of the sights, sounds, and scents are new to them, after all, so you need to be patient and encourage your dog to relax and have fun.
Don’t worry – before you know it, they’ll be pulling you around, and once they are enthusiastic about walking it will be time to teach them how to walk RIGHT.
Why does my dog always want to be in front?
When your dog is outside then their senses are being assailed. They can smell all kinds of things that we can’t, even from great distances, and the sights and sounds can also be quite distracting. As such, a dog that feels safe with you is likely going to want to investigate absolutely EVERYTHING.
They are also pushing ahead as a way of testing ‘dominance boundaries’, and with all of these reasons combined it is vital that you get in the habit of immediately stopping when your dog tries to pull ahead and reinforcing with treats behaviors such as walking next to you, rather than trying to pull ahead.
Your dog will learn that walks are the most fun when they comply and that doing so will keep you from stopping them and ‘interrupting’ their outside adventure. Once this happens, you’ll definitely notice the difference!
Why does my dog walk zig zag in front of me?
Zigzagging is just the natural response of an excited and overly-stimulated dog. They can smell other animals. Foods, people, and even geographical points of interest such as lakes, fountains, bakeries, and more!
When your dog is zigzagging like this, they are frantically trying to decide where to go, and as the Alpha of the pack it’s up to you to stop in place when they do this, waiting for them to sit before giving them a treat and continuing the walk.
Over time, your dog will still smell these things, but they will be less impulsive because they know that there will be plenty to see and it will be uninterrupted if they simply walk next to you and let their master lead the way!
Should you let your dog sniff while walking?
Yes, you can let your dog sniff, but there are exceptions. Don’t let your dog sniff other dog’s fecal matter, for instance, as this could leads to getting worms and some dogs might even eat it!
Aside from this, watch out for anything that might be sharp, such as metal or glass, but things like grass and fountains nearby are absolutely fine for your dog to sniff. Let them enjoy the walk to the fullest by letting them sniff whatever they like – within reason.
Why do old dogs walk sideways?
When your dog is ‘sidling-around’ sideways then this is often the result of conditions such as hip dysplasia and it’s definitely something to take note of. A trip to the vet can help to confirm and treat conditions like this, so that your dog feels more comfortable walking.
Can you hurt your dog by pulling on the leash?
Yes, you can hurt your dog if you are walking them with a leash and collar, rather than a leash and harness, as tugging if going to put pressure on your dog’s fragile throat. Consider upgrading to a harness, as this will move the ‘tug’ pressure to the back or the front of the chest and always be careful pulling.
Remember, you can simply stop, and when your dog learns that pulling away or trying to strike out on their own leads to the fun stopping, they’ll adjust their behavior and walking together will become much easier.
My name is Ken and I’m one of the staff writers at Petloverguy.com. I’ve cared for pets most of my life starting with hamsters, turtles, and snakes. Then moving up to parakeets, guinea pigs, and even ducks.
I currently live with two yorkies and a chihuahua mix.