I was in Alpharetta last week with a new Home Dog Training client and her puppy named Dandy.  We covered all the standard socialization topics, worked on basic obedience, corrected bad behavior, and enforced the potty training process.  Our client was very happy with what she had learned and how Dandy was responding to her direction.  She now had a very interesting, but important request for help regarding Dandy.  It seemed that Dandy was a “couch potato” and always wanted to stay “wherever he was at that time”.  Our client wanted him to be with her as she moved through the house.  She didn’t want to always be picking him up and carrying him everywhere.  How could she just get Dandy to “be with her”?

Training your puppy to follow you is based on focus, consistency, and repetition.

To restate her request, our client just wanted Dandy to “stick with her” when she moved about. This action could often be viewed as “walking off leash” in the house. We refer this to “walking off leash light“.  This is best taught when our client’s dog is still a puppy.  We teach our clients the following process:

The dog must first understand “come”.  Robin and I have talked about this before, but let me give you a quick review:

  • Make sure the puppy is on a leash.  
  • Move back until you are at the extent of the leash, get down low, and say “come”.  (Only say “come” once.)
  • If your puppy doesn’t come, give a slight tug on the leash and passively direct him to you.
  • Give him all sorts of “Good Puppy” praise when he comes to your side.
  • Keep doing this on a daily basis until he comes to your side with no need to tug the leash.
  • Now, use a longer leash (15 feet) and repeat the above process, first at 10 feet and then at 15 feet.
  • When things are going really well, drop the leash, walk 10 feet away from your puppy, turn, get low, and say “come”.  If he doesn’t come to you, use the leash at 10 feet and 15 feet again (you moved a little too fast).  Repeat this process until he is going to your side on a regular basis.
  • You have now created a unique command (come) with a consistent and repetitive result (get by your side).

Now we can start the “Be by me” training.  What we really are doing is to create a “come while I am moving” action.

  • Start with your puppy by your side.  Start to walk.
  • Bend over slightly, say “come on”, tap on you leg at the same time to show direction. Be a little playful to create a little adrenalized focus from him..
  • Your puppy should now follow you, based on what you had previously taught him.

Don’t walk too fast and don’t go too far between your “come on’s”.  If your puppy is a little hesitant about walking with you, stop every few feet, stoop, say “come on”, pat your let, and get animated when he approaches you.

This is simply a “come while I am moving” exercise.  This can only be done after your puppy really understands “come”. If your dog can master this command while he is young, walking off leash outside will be far easier to teach as he gets a little older.

Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help.  We are blessed to have been your local dog training professionals for over fifteen years.  We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.