Training a High Energy Lab to Walk Next to People

By: David Codr

Published Date: July 13, 2020

For this Omaha dog training session we teach 3 year-old Lab Trixie (pictured here onthe right, with her roomie 1 year-old Golden Retriever pup Marley) to walk next to people on walks.

We started out by addressing the leader / follower dynamic in the home. Many people think of rules and structure as negitves and omit them from the dog’s daily life. But for dogs, burning energy like you would be while enforcing a rule is a way to demonstrate leadership. Why is that important? Because if a dog doesnt see and respect you as a leader, then listening is optional and only required if the dog feels like it. Also if a dog sees you as a leader, it can relax and be comforted knowing you are there to handle things.

By increasing exercise, introducing rules and enforcing them consistenly, adding structure to petting and rewarding desired behaviors you can put your dog into a mental place where it sees you as the leader and its actions reflect its desire to contribute to the betterment of the group or to make you happy.

If you have a dog who pulls on the leash, the first thing you need to do is teach the dog to stay calm during the leashing up process. Many people get their dog all riled up, confusing excitement for happiness and end up with a dog so arroused it can’t listen. Practicing this leashing exercise with the dogs separately, at times the humans dont plan on going for a walk, will set the dogs up for success.

Next I pulled out my camera so I could share tips on how to teach a dog to walk next to people. Training a dog to walk at your side is one of the more common requests people have with their dogs. When your dog doesn’t pull on the leash, it makes the walk so much more enjoyable for the dog and the human. You can learn how to start training a dog to walk next to you by watching the free positive dog training video below.

People are usually surprised when I use this technique to teach the dog to walk beside the human without a leash. I find that this approach has deeper roots as the dog is rewarded when it decides to come and walk next to me, not because the leash forced them to do so.

Teaching a dog to heel is one of the most difficult things to teach a dog as most people don’t have the time or patience. This is why we offer a loose leash walking class (LLW Class). The class, doesnt have a tone of steps, is easy to do and only requires practice. Now it doesn’t teach the heel, instead its goal is to stop the dog from pulling or luning on the leash. At about 10% of the cost to train a dog to properly heel, the LLW Class is a good compromise that is very popular.

One thing we didn’t get a chance to work on is stopping the dogs from charging the door when people visit. I promised the guardian to include a video on how to stop this dog behavior problem so here it is.

If the guardian has difficulty teaching the dogs to move away from the door when people visit, they may need to set up a one hour follow up session to address that issue.

To help the guardians remember all the dog behavior tips I shared in this in home Omaha dog training session, we recorded a roadmap to success video you can watch below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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