I was at a Home Dog Training client in Lawrenceville yesterday for a follow up training visit. We first started working with the young Scottish Deerhound and client a few months ago with potty training and basic obedience and socialization. The puppy was now about nine months old and we were ready to work on walking. The Mollie had grown pretty quickly (they always do!) and was darting all over the place when my clients tried to walk her. She would go in front of them, behind them, switching sides, and just not listening at all.
I had not introduced “walking” to my clients’ training activities yet, so out of interest, I asked my clients to demonstrate what they were doing. The husband picked up the leash in his left hand and walked Molly around the room. She tried to switch sides several times and he could never keep her focus. I said nothing and handed the leash to his wife. She took the leash in her right hand and the same situation occurred. Molly was all over the place and my clients were at their whit’s end.
The problem that my clients were having with trying to teach their Molly to walk was a matter of perspective. The husband was walking Molly on his left side and the wife was walking Molly on her right side. In trying to build her “where should I be when on a leash with you”, the rules kept changing.
I quickly jumped in and gave them a quick walking lesson to start them off with the following lesson points:
- Start practicing walking in the house where it is quiet and there are no other distractions that might get Molly to divert her attention away from them.
- Hold the leash so that there is only a very slight amount of slack when Molly is right next to them.
- Find a room where they will be able to walk Molly ten feet in a straight line with plenty of room on each side.
- Start the walk with a command such as “Walkies”, “Let’s go”, “Heel”, “Giddy-up”, etc. Don’t use the word “Come”. That is for another command.
- Walk in a straight line for ten feet, turn 180 degrees, and walk back. Have her sit.
- If she begins to deviate from their side, give her a slight tug on the leash with a muted correction sound to guide her back to their side.
These were the quick-and-dirty tips that they needed to work on the walking, but there is still one big issued that we had not addressed. They were still walking Molly on two sides of them.
Perspective also plays a major role in the walking process. This isn’t to say that they weren’t able teach their dog to walk on either side of them. The question that I had for them was if they wanted to spend the extra time to have Molly walk on their left and right or if they didn’t care. They, like most people, said they just wanted their dog to walk politely and didn’t care if she walked on both sides.
I told them that it didn’t matter which side they picked to walk Molly. The only thing that they had to do was to pick ONE side and always walk her on that side. I suggested that since Molly was becoming a big dog, to pick their dominant (stronger) side. This is because you always feel more confident and in control when you use your dominant side. They were both right handed, so they picked their right side to walk Molly.
After about another ten minutes of practicing walking Molly in the house on their right side, she began to give them more focus and the walking improved. This is because they provided Molly with a single rule to obey when they were walking. “Be on my right side and when you look up, I will always be on your left.”
Again, the “take away” from this dog training discussion isn’t that you have to walk your dog on the right side. It doesn’t necessarily matter what side you walk your dog. Just pick one side and ALWAYS walk on that side. It makes teaching “walkies” to your dog easier and I always like “easy”.
You can always call us at (770) 718-7704 if you are in need of any dog training help. If you like reading, we have many more dog training tips at Best Dog Trainers Lawrenceville Georgia. All of our contact methods (except carrier pigeon) can be found at Dog Training Help Center Lawrenceville Georgia.