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Old 12-13-2012, 06:30 PM   #1 (permalink)
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To walk behind or not to walk behind...

What are your thoughts on having your dog walk beside/behind you?

I know there's the old thoughts of you being the alpha and therefore your dog not walking in front of you but is it really a big deal anymore?

Hades is always ahead of me when we first head out walking. I get it, he's excited we're going for a walk. He walks ahead of me at the end of the leash but never pulling me. Toward the middle and end of our walk, he will walk beside me (his body is beside me but his head is ahead of me).

I guess this is ok but sometimes think I'm doing it wrong bc I'm not in front. Side note: I have to consistently work on Hades with leash aggression to other dogs, bicycles, people running etc. (he'll be lunging and barking if i don't put him in a sit and do the watch me command).

I guess I'm wondering if this leash aggression is exacerbated bc he's in the front.


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Old 12-13-2012, 06:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I put approximately zero stock in doing certain things to maintain "alpha". Your dog will do what you teach him to do, and what you allow him to do. Personally I'm comfortable as long as there is slack in the leash, and the dog is not acting like a fool.
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:49 PM   #3 (permalink)
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As long as Hades is walking with manners, and not pulling you...should not matter slightly ahead or behind.

Personally, when my dog and I go outside or return to the house, I could care less if I am first or last...through the door.
My dobes figure out the pack structure (family members highest) without looking at the exact order of random body moves, in a given day.
^^^^ I kind of hold the same feeling for dog walking / but if we are in formal OB training, specific head position is most critical, to me.
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Old 12-13-2012, 07:13 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beaumont67 View Post
As long as Hades is walking with manners, and not pulling you...should not matter slightly ahead or behind.

Personally, when my dog and I go outside or return to the house, I could care less if I am first or last...through the door.
My dobes figure out the pack structure (family members highest) without looking at the exact order of random body moves, in a given day.
^^^^ I kind of hold the same feeling for dog walking / but if we are in formal OB training, specific head position is most critical, to me.
I agree. I just think it's silly to have a dog walk in a formal heel for their daily walks lol.
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:00 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I agree. I just think it's silly to have a dog walk in a formal heel for their daily walks lol.
^^^^ On a routine walk, I like to mix up the variety & purpose:
- leasure loose leash
- formal on-leash
- leasure off-leash & dog walks home, last block holding the leash in mouth / becomes the treat
10 minutes of formal heal, even on a concrete sidewalk (with cars & trucks buzzing by) and crossing intersections...is a great distraction.
- so I practice it, and when my dobe is decent at proper heel...I take it for an occasional formal walk on city main street
- with more vehicles & people (passing by) and added lights
This is a great substitute, when training at home...and gets the focus, I seek.
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:45 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Fortunately, I have a great combo of neighborhood sidewalks and busier streets to take Hades on. Once we reach the main intersection of the road that leads down to the beach he sits and waits until I tell him to heel to cross the street, even with cars and scooters whizzing by. he is well mannered overall. Except today he lunged and barked at a runner before I had a chance to get him in a sit and watch me :/

I'm glad to know as long as he is loose leash and not technically behind me I'm still ok. I just gotta keep counter conditioning him to bicycles, other dogs and runners. also working on the "leave it" command for dogs barking at him through fences. Leave it worked great on the ducks by the lake we walked by and I know it was hard for him!


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Old 12-13-2012, 08:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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If there are people around since mabel is reactive too I do formal obed (she is trained for it) which has a watch me trained into it. If there aren't people, unless I feel like practicing I let her walk loosely next to me. Not all the way ahead, which she doesn't like anyway, but nothing formal, she just sort of floats next to me looking where she pleases.

We got over a lot of her reactivity on walks by biking instead, she isn't given the time to react, obsess, or worry because we're moving faster and she has to pay attention to the bike wheels. She show's a lot more confidence on regular walks now.
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Old 12-13-2012, 09:11 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I'd love to teach hades to walk with me while I'm riding my bike. I used to take my border collie on regular bike rides to the beach and to a park nearby. I've always been afraid to try it with hades for fear that if he did lunge he'd pull the bike over with me on it.

I trained snoop by walking the bike in between us and soon riding slowly then progressed to regular bike rides. I guess I could do the same for Hades. Great idea. He often needs more exercise than my 9.5 year old border collie anyway so biking would be perfect for him! I'm gonna try it.


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Old 12-13-2012, 09:23 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I think I live in the city with the narrowest sidewalks - they are not Great Dane friendly at all. So if I walk on the sidewalks, he is in front, but if I'm walking in the street or park, he is usually beside me. I use a front clip harness or head halter so they work the best in the side-by-side position and that's he most comfortable for me.
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Old 12-13-2012, 09:38 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DobeAndBorderCollie View Post
I'd love to teach hades to walk with me while I'm riding my bike. I used to take my border collie on regular bike rides to the beach and to a park nearby. I've always been afraid to try it with hades for fear that if he did lunge he'd pull the bike over with me on it.

I trained snoop by walking the bike in between us and soon riding slowly then progressed to regular bike rides. I guess I could do the same for Hades. Great idea. He often needs more exercise than my 9.5 year old border collie anyway so biking would be perfect for him! I'm gonna try it.


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I worked her with a harness attached by a coupler to her prong. My neighborhood is low key so i'd find an area with few people to start out with.
A few almost hits with the tire and she figured it out, the fun part of a correction is it pulls you forward really fast AND the dog learns lol.

I've thought of the bike springs but would rather keep a hold of the leash for corrections and a quick let go if need be.
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Old 12-13-2012, 09:54 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Great suggestions thank you. I will start working with him at the park down the street there are paved walking trails and no one ever goes. I've been doing his obedience there so he knows when we go there, it's time to focus.


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Old 12-14-2012, 09:26 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I don't like it when Lexi walks behind me, it usually means she has found something that's worth taste testing. Although she has gotten much much better with the leave it command outside she will still test me occassionally to see if I'm paying attention.

I let her walk in front of me normally and will have her heel when there are strangers passing by, other dogs around or crossing a road.

If Lexi gets over excited when another dog is approaching I make her sit and she doesn't get to say hello. If she approaches calmly then I will stop to let them commence bum sniffing.
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Old 12-14-2012, 10:16 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Unless I indicate they need to heel, I really don't care where they walk as long as they're not stepping on my feet. Or jumping into me. Sometimes Tali gets super happy and jumps at me like she thinks I'll catch her. I have no idea why. I have not once attempted to catch her. LOL

As for his leash aggression, I think it likely is exacerbated when he's in front of you. I don't think it has anything to do with the "alpha" theory though.

Personally I'd be more firm with a dog that displayed that behavior. I wouldn't give the dog free run of the walk until he'd proven he could control himself. My dogs earn the right to do certain things when they show they're reliable and can be trusted to do what I want. Tali's not leash aggressive but she does have very high prey drive and in the beginning I made her stay in heel position our entire walk while we worked on her self control. I found that if I let her plod along at the end of the leash in front of me - even if she wasn't pulling me - I then had to react to a situation with a cyclist she saw rather than being able to proactively control it by having her at my side, in my space, to begin with.

When she would see something she wanted to chase and take down if I was out of sight, I was definitely out of her mind. And I was way out of her sight and mind when I was 4-6' behind her. It allowed her to get worked up instantly because she wasn't in a position that was easy for me to control her head and redirect the situation. And it's easier to control the situation from the start than it is to diffuse an escalated scenario and then try to gain control.
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Old 12-15-2012, 01:12 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I personally think that walk behind nonsense came from Caesar Milan the so called Dog Whisper I also do not think much of his training methods. He seems to be cruel kicking,pinching dogs to get them to do what he wants. There are allot better ways to train a dog.
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Old 12-15-2012, 08:47 AM   #15 (permalink)
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The whole "alpha" thing is pretty much hogwash. I agree with the poster who said that where a dog is when being walked involves how they are trained.

I have several "walk" commands. "Heel" is the formal command--and I want the dogs shoulder at my left leg. "Walk" is what I use for a dog that I want on my left side and reasonably close, moving with a loose lead but allowed to look at things, sniff things. This is an informal command. "With me" allows the dog to range to the leash end and is OK as long as there is still slack in the leash--I always exclude directly in front of me as a place for a dog to walk--I don't want to be tripped.

I am also very adamant about not allowing my dogs to "visit" or play with other dogs on leash. And grabbing the leash while walking is also a forbidden activity. I have chosen to NOT play tug with my dogs and for us the leash is not a toy.

I haven't had a reactive dog in years but when walking a dog who is either doing a "with me" or "walk" if I see people and/or dogs, squirrels (things that are BIG distractions) I change that to a formal "heel". Generally that will mean the dog doesn't end up being corrected for a tight leash or full blown pulling.

And I don't use the formal "heel" non-training walks. When I ask for a heel it will generally be for no more than a minute or two--since my dogs do ring Obedience I don't want the formal heel to be any sort of punishment--and in the casual walk it's used to take their mind off a potential too interesting situation.
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Old 12-15-2012, 02:34 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Agree with the others, having your dog walk behind you to prove that you're alpha is BS. I do teach a 'back' command when I need my Doberman to duck behind me. We do a lot of hiking, and if we have to pass someone or go down a narrow section of trail, I want him to walk behind me. It helps prevent accidents.

But yeah, as long as Griffin's not being a tool and trying to impersonate a Siberian Husky, he can walk where he wants.
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Old 12-18-2012, 12:59 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I've heard and read about the "alpha" and how dogs are supposed to walk behind or beside you, but with a doberman, their instinct is to guard and protect. I think this behavior is catered to every individual dog though. My dobe has to walk in front, enter a room first, and sleep in front of me facing the door. She gets anxious otherwise. It's not her proclaiming she's the alpha, it's her protective instincts. As long as she shows no signs of aggression and is a good girl with commands and what not, then I see no reason to make her walk behind or next to me.
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Old 12-18-2012, 10:48 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kmbeach22 View Post
I've heard and read about the "alpha" and how dogs are supposed to walk behind or beside you, but with a doberman, their instinct is to guard and protect. I think this behavior is catered to every individual dog though. My dobe has to walk in front, enter a room first, and sleep in front of me facing the door. She gets anxious otherwise. It's not her proclaiming she's the alpha, it's her protective instincts. As long as she shows no signs of aggression and is a good girl with commands and what not, then I see no reason to make her walk behind or next to me.
A dog walking in front of his/her owner has absolutely nothing to dp with alpha behavior. The people that believe that stuff are silly
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Adara (12-18-2012)
Old 12-18-2012, 03:12 PM   #19 (permalink)
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For the reactivity, I recommend checking out Leslie McDevitt's book, "Control Unleashed." The section on "Look at That" is particularly helpful.
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Old 12-18-2012, 06:05 PM   #20 (permalink)
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My walking rules:

"Heel" means heel, look at me, walk next to me, sit at attention watching my face when we stop. We do that for about 2 minutes every 10 min to 15 min.

"Walk here" means walk on my left side anywhere you want but NO pulling.

"Free" means pee, walk on any side and sniff, do not yank me though.

I do a combination of all these on our walks, the formal heel is short you can't expect to do that for exercise. I try to walk 2 miles at least.

I also allow my dogs off leash whenever I can and the rule is stay where we can see each other, for this I teach wait and it works well. When off leash hiking they also learn to respond to a walk here command so I can have them next to me if I need them. I also work on formal heel off leash but again only minutes and if off leash only after they get to run and play for a bit.

I just don't want to be pulled, I hate, hate, hate being pulled. I also walk fast, jog then walk slow trying to keep it interesting.
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