Walking an “Alpha Dog”: 5 Tips for Walking Dominant Dogs

by on December 31st, 2010 at 7:00 am

Lately I have been trying to take more walks with my six month old puppy Atticus; every time he sees me getting the leash he gets so excited. After several minutes of hyperactivity, he sits patiently while I put the leash on him. I have been trying some techniques with him while we walk such as, teaching him to walk only on my right side, not to walk ahead of me, and keeping a steady pace.

A couple days ago while going for our morning walk, Atticus wasn’t listening to my commands, and I felt as though I was forcing him to walk properly. I crouched down to pet him and to try to understand why he was acting this way; he squirmed his way out of his collar and bolted down the street. Like a mad woman, I ran after my 55 pound dog with his tongue sticking out and flapping in the wind almost to say “catch me if you can”.

Finally after repeatedly calling his name and telling him to sit, I managed to put the collar and leash back on him, and we returned home. Thank goodness no one was around to see me talking to Atticus the whole way home saying things such as “what in the world were you thinking” and “why would you do that?”.

Turns out my training tactics were wrong. I have been giving him complete freedom during our morning strolls and this led to his dominate behavior. After researching numerous sites on “Dog Walking Training Techniques”, I learned that I needed to act more like the leader, be more confident and stop my “alpha dog” in his tracks.

5 Tips on How to Walk a Dog

1. Make your dog come to you when it’s time to put on its leash.

2. Always be one step in front of your dog when beginning the walk .

3. The collar should be far up the neck and the lead should be relaxed.

4. If you pass a barking dog or other distraction keep moving forward. If your dog is distracted tug on the lead to direct the attention back to the walk at hand.

5. The dog should not sniff the ground or relieve itself where it pleases; a dog should concentrate on following its handler while walking. The dog needs to see you are leading it, it is not leading you.

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6 Responses to “Walking an “Alpha Dog”: 5 Tips for Walking Dominant Dogs”

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  3. Sarah

    Jan 13th, 2011

    I can attest to having similar problems walking my 119 pound lab. He would get overly excited when another dog, person or even a bicycle would come our way on walks. I had a specialist come over and give me some tips. You hit the nail on the head with them. A few others she gave me were always walk through the doorway first and then allow your dog to follow. The other fantastic point was to keep a squeaky toy with me on walks in order to distract the dog to oncoming bikes, people or other dogs. If he did well I would give him little treats or bits of food to encourage the behavior moving forward,

  4. B. Chancey

    Jan 14th, 2011

    Sarah, those are great tips as well!!! Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. Irene Sonne

    Mar 4th, 2011

    Now, I’m not an official trainer, but I have trained three great danes to walk as with no strain. I could take them anywhere allowed. I use a lot of positive re-inforcement with voice and hand and NEVER let the dog or puppy even to walk ahead of me. If that happens, do not pull, but simple stop still and invite (may be difficult first times) the dog to walk around you on leash to stand beside you on the left. When you are ready, give your command to heel and start to walk. Keep walking. If your pup goes ahead repeat. Be consistent and don’t give up. Practice for 10 mins in the yard daily beforehand if you like. If you like food rewards you may like to add, but it’s not for me as I can’t guarantee I’ll always have it with me.

    I anticipate on-coming distractions, tighten the short lead slightly and firmly say; “Leave!” as often as necessary. All takes time.

    I started early with my first Dane when he was small enough for me to have physical control.

    Remember. Firmness, consistency, patience, determination and love. Believe you are the alpha when you are there and your companion will love you for it. PS The advantage of the Dane is that you can ruffle his ears as you speak to him.

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