How to Teach your Dog to Walk Beside You
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Dogs are animals with an amazing ability to learn a wide range of orders in order to please us (and to get some treats in the process). One of the best things for your dog to learn is to walk beside you, which is very useful and beneficial if you want to let them off the lead sometimes without running any risks.
In this AnimalWised article, we'll give you some advice on how to teach your dog to walk beside you, step by step, while using positive reinforcement as a key tool, as we always do. Remember that positive reinforcement greatly improves the animal's perception and speed of learning.
Before starting our explanation and guide, however, you should know that if your dog walks in front of you, it doesn't necessarily mean that they want to be dominant. It simply means that they want to enjoy the walk by freely sniffing around, exploring and discovering new stimuli.
Teaching your dog the order to walk beside you will be crucial in ensuring that they don't run away when out on a trip. However, this doesn't mean that you should constantly have your dog stuck to your side. Rather, you should let your dog communicate freely and have fun, just like any other animal would do.
At AnimalWised we only use positive reinforcement; a professionally recommended technique which allows your dog to quickly pick up whatever you want to teach them. Start the process by getting hold of dog treats or various snacks. If you don't have any of these at your disposal, you can use frankfurters and dice them into small pieces.
Let them sniff them and offer them one - now we're ready to start!
Once your dog has tasted a treat that they enjoy for motivation, take them down to the street to start training. Once the dog has done their business you can start teaching them. For this, we recommend that you seek a quiet and secluded area.
Choose how you want to ask your dog to walk beside you. Remember to select a short and memorable word for your dog.
The process is very simple: Take a treat and show it to the dog, and then say their name and the chosen word. For example, "Gus, heel!"
When the dog gets closer to you to receive the treat, keep walking with the treat for at least another meter or three feet before giving it to them. Why do this? You're trying to get the dog to associate walking near to you with being rewarded.
It will be necessary and fundamental to repeat the procedure regularly for the dog to learn and associate it correctly. It's a very simple order which can be easily learnt. The difficulty lies in your hands, and depends on your motivation to practice it.
Remember that not all dogs learn at the same speed, and the time you spend teaching your dog to walk beside you step by step will vary according to age, willingness or stress levels. And yes, positive reinforcement will help your dog pick it up faster and better.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Teach your Dog to Walk Beside You, we recommend you visit our Basic education category.