How to Train a Labrador to Walk Beside You

Medium
2-8 Weeks
General

Introduction

Nothing puts a smile on your face more than coming home to your Labrador after a long day of work. Their tail wags non-stop and you can almost see them smiling. However, when you head out the door, your beloved pup quickly turns from an angelic canine companion to a Labrador from hell. They pull you in every direction, desperate to sniff and investigate everything. You can’t blame them for this, they’re just naturally inquisitive, especially after spending most of the day stuck in the house. However, when you have kids and shopping to deal with too, a pulling Labrador becomes challenging.

That’s why training your Labrador to walk beside you calmly could save you considerable stress when you open that door. It also means you can go back to enjoying those relaxing strolls in the sun. This sort of training will also increase your control in other areas of their life, making it easier to stamp out other bad habits. 

Defining Tasks

Training your Labrador to walk beside you isn’t always a walk in the park. As you would expect, most dogs are eager to get their grubby paws on everything around them. So training will require considerable patience on your behalf. You’ll also need to use strict obedience commands to bring them under control. Alongside training, treats, toys and any number of other incentives may be needed to help motivate your dog.

Your job will be easiest if your Labrador is just a puppy. They will be smaller so you can physically correct their behavior with less hassle. They should also be at their most receptive, so you could see results in just a couple of weeks. But if your Labrador is older and always had their own way, then you may need a couple of months. Continue with training to the end and leaving the house with your Lab will be stress-free from start to finish.

Getting Started

You’ll need a few different bits for training. A short training leash will be the main requirement. You may also want to use a body harness. If your Labrador is big and strong then the body harness will increase your control while reducing the strain on their neck.

You will also need some mouth-watering treats or their favorite food broken into small chunks. You can train when you’re out on your daily walk, so you don’t need to set aside additional time. 

Once you have all of the above, just bring patience and some walking shoes, then work can begin!

The ‘Heel’ Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Setting off
Secure your Labrador to a short leash and head out the door for your daily walk. Choose a side and set off with them firmly next to you. Try not to get your dog too worked up as you head out the door.
Step
2
‘Heel’
As soon as your Labrador walks ahead and starts pulling, issue a firm ‘heel’. Don’t shout at them or scare them, but make sure they take notice. Also make sure you give the instruction just once. If you keep saying ‘heel’ then they will think they don’t have to respond to you first time.
Step
3
Stop
As you give the command, stand still. Your dog may wander ahead for a few steps but the leash will run out and then they will stop and peer around. Once they’ve stood there looking confused for a while they’ll return to your side.
Step
4
Reward
Once your Labrador walks back to your side, give them some brief verbal praise and a reward. You can use a treat or you can play with a toy for a minute. You want to show them you’re happy with them, but you don’t want them to get too excited and worked up.
Step
5
Repeat
Now you simply need to follow the steps above whenever they pull. It does mean walks can be very frustrating with lots of starting and stopping to begin with, but Fido will soon catch on. So persevere, each time you let them wander you push back the end result.
Recommend training method?

The U-Turn Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Start line
Put Fido on a leash and begin your walk. Keep them on one side to begin with. For this method, you may also want to use a body harness. This will be beneficial for both of you when using this fast moving technique.
Step
2
Turn
As soon as your Labrador pulls ahead and is no longer walking beside you, turn around sharply and start walking in the opposite direction. You don’t need to turn and say anything, simply focus on heading in the other direction.
Step
3
Encouragement
As you turn, give the leash a quick pull to encourage the pup to turn around and follow you. Don’t pull so hard that you may hurt them, but give them a quick jolt. This fast change in direction will let them know they need to stay firmly by your side.
Step
4
Persevere
Now all you need to do is practice this whenever you’re walking. It can be frustrating to start with when you’re constantly walking backwards and forwards, but Labradors are fast learners.
Step
5
House rules
It’s also important you ensure anyone else that walks your doguses the same technique. If they’re allowed to pull and not walk next to other walkers then they will get confused and training will take longer to yield results.
Recommend training method?

The Lure Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Preparation
This technique requires a much-loved toy, treat, or another lure that will hold your Labrador’s attention. You can even play with a tennis ball each day for a few minutes to get them worked up by that.
Step
2
Walk time
Once you have something your dog will do anything for, secure them to a leash and begin your normal walk. However, hold the lure to one side at your waist height. Make sure your Labrador knows it’s there but can’t actually get it out of your hand.
Step
3
Start small
Now walk about 10 yards with the dog at your side as they try to follow the ball. Once you have done that, stop and give them the reward. Also shower them in verbal praise.
Step
4
Increase the distance
Start walking again, but this time walk 15 yards before you stop and give them the reward. Continue gradually increasing the distance until you can walk for 20 minutes or so with your Labrador calmly by your side. At this point you can stop using a lure, your pup will be in the habit of walking calmly next to you.
Step
5
Tackling distraction
If they get distracted before you’ve walked the 10 yards, try walking just a few yards to begin with. If that doesn’t work, then try using a different lure. Some smelly food, such as cheese, often does the job.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd