You might think that training your dog to follow you off-leash might be more than a little challenging. To be sure, it will take a little hard work from both of you. However, if you have taken the time to establish yourself as the "Alpha" leader of the pack, this type of behavior should come naturally to your pup. Dogs have a tendency to look to their pack leaders for guidance, including what direction they should travel and how fast they should be moving.
Because of this natural pack instinct, you need to be sure your pup sees you as the Alpha at all times, even when you are not going for a walk. Teaching your dog to stay close and follow you can help keep him safe whenever you might be in a dangerous situation, such as a crowded area or when there is a lot of traffic nearby.
The actual command you prefer is up to you. You can use 'come', 'follow', or even 'heel' if you prefer. Teaching your dog to follow shouldn't take more than a few weeks, as long as you have the patience and a quiet place to work at first. This behavior can typically be taught to any dog who has already mastered the basic commands, no matter his age. However, you need to start out working with your pup in a quiet space such as a fenced in backyard or maybe an open field where there are no other dogs, people, or traffic.
The intent of the command is that your dog should be able to follow you and assume the heel position at a single command. He should also remain in this position during the entire walk unless and until you release him. This ensures that he stays in a safe position without any need for continuous reminders, making going out for walks more enjoyable for both of you, as well as anyone else around you.
One of the most important things you must remember when training your pup to follow you is it should be done using positive rewards such as verbal praise and treats. Training your dog to follow should never be done using punishment when he gets things wrong. Making mistakes is only natural in the beginning phase of training, positive reinforcement will make the training go faster and be far more successful.
The most important part of any training program is time. You need time to practice this new command two or three times a day, every day of the week, or it could take months for your pup to master this new skill.