Training your dog to follow you will seem natural to him, if you're the pack leader. Dogs look to the pack leader for direction, so the first step in training her to follow is to always hold the position of pack leader, even when you're not walking.
Establish your position as the pack leader. Always eat before your dog eats. Don't let your dog go through a doorway first or up and down stairs first. Always greet newcomers first, and then allow your pet to greet them. You should initiate all play and end playtime. If your dog is going to sleep on the bed, you give him permission to get on the bed.
Teach your dog simple commands such as sit, stay and come. These commands enforce your position as leader and teach your dog to watch, listen and follow through with the command.
Practice walking with a leash. As the leader, go out the front door first. If your dog is excited, give the sit command. Wait until he is composed and then start the walk. Keep the leash short and walk with your dog beside you or slightly behind you. Walk at a good pace so your dog does not have time to wander but must follow your lead.
Walk where there are other dogs or people. This gives you a chance to correct your dog if he starts to pull on the leash. Give a one-word correction and snap the leash. Continue to walk. Your dog will soon learn he is to walk beside or follow. When he has learned to heel and pay attention, you are ready to try walking with a loose leash and eventually no leash.
Find an area with few distractions and no traffic. A back road or path in the woods is ideal. Begin with the leash so your dog is practicing heeling. Stop and remove the leash and continue to walk. Keep a fast pace. If your dog stops and sniffs, call his name and keep walking. Walk him off leash for a few minutes and then put the leash back on. Continue to lengthen his time off leash.
- If your dog runs away from you, he is not seeing you as the pack leader. Don't chase him. Call for him and keep walking. If he has learned the basic commands, he will come when you call.
- If you have a pup, you can begin training him to follow you in the house. Say his name and the command, come along. Have him follow you around the house. To keep his attention, have a treat in one hand.
- Don't let your dog off leash until you feel confident he is ready.
- Don't let him off leash in any area where a car can hit him.
Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.