Your dog walks in front of you and it makes you wonder why.
You’re at the right place! Here you’ll discover:
- 7 possible reasons why your dogs walks in front of you.
- 5 practical and easy tips to stop your dog from walking in front of you.
- What a digitigrade is and how this makes your dog move faster than you.
- Plus a lot more…
Table of contents
- Why does my dog walk in front of me?
- Why does my dog walk in front of me in the house?
- Why does my dog walk in front of me and stop?
- Should I let my dog walk in front of me?
- 7 common reasons why your dog walks in front of you
- 5 tips to stop your dog from walking in front of you
Why does my dog walk in front of me?
Your dog walks in front of you because you’re either too slow or they are drawn to their surroundings. Dogs are digitigrades, which makes them faster walkers than humans, who are plantigrades. In addition, dogs love the outdoors. They love to pay attention to everything they see, hear, and smell.
Why does my dog walk in front of me in the house?
Your dog walks in front of you in the house in anticipation of where you’re going so they could go with you. If you’re holding the plates after dinner, your dog will walk to the kitchen in hopes of being fed. If you’re holding the leash, your dog walks ahead to the door in anticipation of a walk.
Why does my dog walk in front of me and stop?
Your dog walks in front of you and stops because they’re checking on you. They may be distracted by many scents, sights, and sounds around them. In some cases, they may walk ahead of you. However, they will constantly check on you. They want to make sure you’re there and you’re okay.
Should I let my dog walk in front of me?
You should not let your dog walk ahead of you if they have pent up energy. Their main goal is to run, play, or do any activity to release that energy. This could lead to accidents while you’re out on a walk. They could run into oncoming cars or get in a fight with other dogs.
7 common reasons why your dog walks in front of you
#1: Digitigrade vs. plantigrade
Some would say that dogs walk in front of you because of dominance. That they’re the alpha of your two-member pack.
However, the reasons why dogs walk in front have nothing to do with dominance.
For one, they have a faster pace. Thanks to them being digitigrade.
A digitigrade is an animal that walks on toes. This makes them walk faster than humans, who are plantigrades.
Plantigrades walk on the soles of their feet, using their toes for balance.
It stands to reason that your dog ends up ahead of you during your walks. What you can do is catch up so you can walk side by side.
#2: Reinforced behavior
Another reason why they’re always walking ahead is you’ve let them too many times.
Perhaps it began as a gentle pull on the leash that you let pass. After all, your dog was right where you could see them.
And every time you walked your dog, this became the norm. Thus, it became a reinforced behavior.
#3: They don’t know better
Your dog walks in front because they don’t know that you want them beside you.
Without training, they won’t know how to walk with you.
And until you’ve taught your dog that you want them by your side, they’ll walk however they want.
It’s natural. You wouldn’t have known how to safely cross the street if no one ever showed you.
#4: Too much lead
Did you know that the gear your dog uses for walks affects their walking behavior?
For instance, a retractable leash encourages pulling behavior.
With too much lead, they’ve got a lot of room for movement. They have farther reach, so they could end up walking in front.
Besides, too much lead could give them the wrong idea. They think they’ve got permission to explore as much as their leash would allow.
This causes them to pull on the leash some more.
#5: Too much energy
Even if you don’t like it, you leave your dog at home while you go to work.
Unfortunately, this leads to dogs having pent up energy. Without adequate physical exercise and mental stimulation, they would resort to annoying behaviors.
You’ll notice it as soon as you open the door to take your dog for a walk. They are eager to run outside or sniff around.
And if leashed, they would pull on their leash. Sometimes they would end up walking in front of you.
They do this because they want to release their pent up energy.
#6: They love the outdoors
Ever wonder why your dog does cute things when they see you holding the leash?
You’d think they won the jackpot by the way they dance.
Well, in a way, they’ve won the jackpot. Because they love the outdoors! It makes them excited.
The world outside the home is much bigger. There are new scents to smell. New sights to see. And each walk is an adventure on its own.
#7: They’re drawn to the things around them
Your dog walks in front of you because there are many things that compete for their attention.
And what better way to investigate these things than to use their noses.
Dogs enjoy sniffing everything. They would smell that bush or the grass.
And they would run to that burger wrapper on the ground for a sniff. And maybe have a lick or two before you catch up to them.
When you’re walking, you also get to meet other people and pets. If your dog finds the other dogs friendly, then they might do a little butt sniffing before moving on.
5 tips to stop your dog from walking in front of you
#1: Teach your dog loose leash-walking
Walking off-leash has its advantages.
But sometimes, you need to put your dog on a leash when taking a walk.
For one, an energetic dog might take off as soon as you step out of the house.
This is dangerous. Someone driving a car might not see your dog and hit the breaks on time.
Two, your running dog might come across aggressive dogs. It could end up in an ugly fight.
To prevent these scenarios, have your dog on a leash. You’ll have peace of mind if your dog is relaxed beside you on walks.
Loose leash training is easier than you think
Here’s how to do it:
- Find an area where you can train without too much distraction.
- Begin walking.
- When your dog pulls on the leash, it’s because they want to move forward. Counter the behavior by taking a few steps backward.
- Then call your dog to your side.
- Reward accordingly if they follow.
- Walk forward again.
- If your dog sticks to your side, give them a treat every 3 or 4 steps.
Repeat the steps if your dog starts pulling again.
Keep doing these steps and your dog will figure out not to pull on their leash.
Note: Be consistent. Don’t allow them to get away with pulling on the leash. It’s only going to confuse them.
#2: Use appropriate gear
Before training or walking your dog, make sure you’ve got the right supplies.
Retractable leashes are a no-no because dogs can easily pull on them.
You want your dog close to your side. So, get an appropriate length. For training, use a 4-foot long leash.
Avoid using long leash for now because it will give your dog too much room. Use it for hiking or walking when your dog has mastered walking beside you.
Not all harnesses are made equal. Some make it easy for your dog to pull.
But thankfully, some harnesses are designed to discourage pulling. That’s because the leash is connected to the front of the harness. Here’s how it looks:
Don’t worry because it won’t choke your dog. The strap rests on the chest, not on the throat.
#3: Use positive reinforcement
Are you teaching your dog simple tricks? Or teaching your dog a new behavior?
The use of positive reinforcement is more effective. That is, compared to positive punishment and negative reinforcement.
Here’s how they differ:
- Positive reinforcement – Encouraging a desirable behavior by adding something pleasant. For example, giving your dog yummy treats.
- Positive punishment – Discouraging a certain behavior by adding an unwanted outcome. For example, yelling at your dog for barking or chewing on your shoe.
- Negative reinforcement – Encouraging a desirable behavior by stopping something unpleasant. For example, the dog stops pulling on the leash because of the prong collar they have.
Another research agreed with the use of positive reinforcement. It studied two groups of dogs:
- One class taught using positive reinforcement.
- The other class taught using negative reinforcement.
The positive reinforcement group consisted of 24 dogs
The dogs were trained with the help of food, petting, praise, and play.
On the other hand, the negative reinforcement group had 26 dogs.
The owners used negative reinforcement. That’s in the form of using a stern voice and pushing the dogs into a sit position.
Interestingly, this is what the researchers found out:
Dogs trained using negative reinforcement showed more stress-related behaviors.
Another result showed a curious fact… The positive reinforcement dogs looked at their owners more.
The researchers believed that this indicates an improved dog-owner relationship. Gazing more at owners means that dogs pay more attention to their owners.
And this can facilitate an easier training session.
#4: Teach the heel command
The heel command teaches your dog to walk next to you.
If your dog doesn’t know how to do it yet, you can start training inside the house. The yard is also a great place to practice, if you have one.
Here’s how you can teach your dog to heel:
- Have your dog sit on your left side. Hold the treat in front of your dog’s nose and walk. The treat will serve as a lure to get your dog to follow.
- After a few steps, give the treat to your dog and praise them.
- Repeat the steps a few times.
- Add the ‘heel’ command. Say ‘heel’ and start walking. Then release the treat, never forgetting to praise your dog.
- Once your dog knows how to follow, lengthen the time of walk before releasing the treat. You can go from 10 seconds, 20 seconds or longer of walking. Gradually increase the time before releasing the treat.
Note: When your dog has learned to stay by your side while walking, remove the use of treats. Use the command only.
#5: Stop walking when they pull the leash
Sometimes you only need to stop moving when your dog pulls the leash.
They will be confused at first why you stop suddenly. But they will stop pulling and will sit or return to your side.
Continue walking. If they begin pulling again, stop walking.
It will be a game of walking and stopping every few steps or so. But doing it will teach your dog that the way forward is if they don’t pull on the leash.