How to Train Your Dog to Stay by Your Side

Hard
2-4 Months
General

Introduction

Training your dog to stay by your side is an imperative command when you are out and about on leash or off-leash. Having your dog run from you because of a distraction or over-excitement can be quite scary and dangerous. If you are at a dog park or even just on a neighborhood walk where other animals may come across your dog, you want to your dog to remain safe and close to you so you can help protect him. Dogs who walk off-leash often need to know how to stay by their owner's side. Dogs who hike with their owners in public spaces off leash or dogs who go to restaurants or walk around town off-leash are the dogs who are expected to be well-behaved and next to their owners at all times. Training their dogs to remain by their side is the only way these owners can have their dogs completely off-leash.

Defining Tasks

Training your dog to be off leash and by your side will start with training your dog to be on-leash and by your side. You will want to teach your dog to heel. Whether your goal is for your dog to be on-leash or off-leash all of the time, you're going to need to train your dog to avoid distractions and keep his attention on you. If you move, your expectation should be that he moves with you. If you sit still, your expectation should be that he sits still with you. Though this can be taught at any age, it's often easier to teach puppies and younger dogs from the start how to stay by your side.

Getting Started

Training your dog to stay by your side will require daily small sessions of training. You will want to be consistent in your rules and how you decide to train your dog to stay by your side. You may need a leash to start even if your plan is to have your dog off leash once he is fully trained. High-value treats will help entice your dog to stay with you as well as to reward good behavior. Be patient and build daily training sessions into your days.

The Heel with Wall Method

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2 Votes
Step
1
Left side
Put your dog on your left side with a wall on his left side.
Step
2
Leash walk
With a leash on your dog, walk with him along the wall.
Step
3
Attention grabber
To grab his attention and keep him close to you, offer him a treat every few feet.
Step
4
Heel command
As you walk further, begin to use the ‘heel’ command.
Step
5
Reward
Be sure to reward your dog as he paces you by your side.
Step
6
Off-leash
To get your dog comfortable with staying by your side, you will have to eventually take him off the leash and ask him to heel off leash.
Step
7
Away from wall
As your dog gets used to the 'heel' command, move away from the wall. Begin to practice the 'heel' command on daily walks on and off leash.
Step
8
Practice
Continue to practice these steps until your dog stays at your side whether you are standing or sitting when you use the command heel.
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The Walk at Attention Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Watch me
Teach your dog the ‘watch me’ command and use this command as you are walking or sitting together to keep his attention and stay by your side.
Step
2
Noise
Get your dog’s attention by making a noise. Give him a treat once you have his attention. Practice this for several minutes a few times a day.
Step
3
Watch me
Once your dog is familiar with looking at you and giving you his attention, add the command, ‘watch me.’ Plan to use this command as your command each time you’d like your dog’s attention.
Step
4
Practice
Repeat these steps and practice this command in various places and positions before taking your dog for a walk using this command.
Step
5
On-leash
With your dog on a leash, use the 'watch me' command as you both slowly walk together. He should remain by your side. Every few moments, use the command ‘watch me,’ and give your dog a treat once he gives you his attention.
Step
6
Off-leash
If you plan for your dog to be off leash and by your side, use the 'watch me' command while walking off leash as well. Keep his attention by using the command often and providing treats when he listens and obeys.
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The Start Young Method

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0 Votes
Step
1
Off-leash
If you have a puppy you are training even the most basic obedience commands, do so off leash. This will give your puppy confidence in his training as well as teach him early to obey your command and stay by your side as he trains.
Step
2
Play time
Fit in off leash play time with your dog either in open space, a dog park, or your backyard. During this time, you can challenge him to run from you to fetch a ball or catch a Frisbee, but always bring him back to your side by calling his name.
Step
3
Reinforecement
Build an excitement with your dog by rewarding him with positive reinforcement and verbal praise. When he comes to your side, be enthusiastic and say the word, ‘yes!’
Step
4
Redirection
If your dog gets away from your side, call him back and engage with him so he wants to stay by your side.
Step
5
Recall
Recall your dog to you by saying his name once. If he doesn’t come to your side, walk to him as you say his name. This will teach him that when you say his name, you want to be next to him. Over time, when he hears his name he should come back to your side. If you recall him several times, he will expect to hear his name several times before returning to you.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Baby
Chiwawa
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Baby
Chiwawa
2 Years

It’s very hard to get my dog to heel because We bought her from an abusive owner and she feels very uncomfortable being on a leash. She can do “sit” and “stay” but just not heel or would ever follow me by my side. Help?

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Hello, why not try the Treat Lure Method as described here, in the guide for learning to heel without a leash: https://wagwalking.com/training/heel-without-a-leash. It describes steps with a leash, but go ahead and work on it without. To help her accept the leash, be patient, and try the Drag Method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-your-puppy-to-accept-leash. For her safety, she'll need the leash to go on walks and adventures, something that will be therapeutic and enjoyable for her. Good luck and all the best to Baby!

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Question
Cocoa
German Shorthaired Pointer Labrador mix
3 Years
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Question
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Cocoa
German Shorthaired Pointer Labrador mix
3 Years

Hello. I received Cocoa from a friend earlier this year. She's nearly a perfect dog but I have some problems I'm looking for advice on.
1. She bolts when off leash and will not come back when called. I have to follow her and wait for her to stop on her own and catch her. She bolts out the door, and likes to chase distractions. I've
2. She is very excited to meet people and runs full-force at them to greet them. This scares a close friend of mine to the point that she is scared of cocoa due to an injured leg that she fears cocoa will bump into.
3. And finally,my landlady owns multiple cats. I enjoy cats and would like to have a kitten of my own someday, however cocoa loves to chase small animals. Cats included. This worries me and my landlady. I do not know what she would do if she caught a cat. But she only seems curious unless the cat hisses or reacts negatively, then she retaliates by chasing.
I'm looking for non-violent, positive advice. I love this dog, but I do not enjoy having to follow her across multiple yards when she gets loose, keeping her away from cats and my close friend, and her pulling really strongly on leash.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
670 Dog owners recommended

Hello, First, check out the article on teaching come. Pay special attention to the sections of using a long leash to proof Come around distractions and using the PreMack Principle to improve Come. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ Reel In method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Second, I suggest working on a high level Place command with pup. Practice teaching her to go to Place, then gradually work up to her being able to stay on Place while you leave the room. Work up to her being able to stay on place for up to 30 minutes, then have a friend or family member practice knocking on the door and herd pup back to place each time she gets off when she gets excited. This will take a lot of repetition. You should be like a soccer goalie using your body to block her from leaving the area and guiding her back to the Place. Keep a drag leash on her to stop her form bolting if she manages to get past you. Practice Place this way until she can stay on Place when someone rings the doorbell/knocks, you leave the room, and a new person enters with you. This is entirely possible but will take a lot of practice from you both. This routine is a great routine for practicing impulse control and calmness for her in general. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/what-tricks-can-i-train-my-dog/ Third, use Place and Heel to teach her to pay attention to you around the cats and ignore them. Check out the video linked below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWF2Ohik8iM Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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