Is it OK for My Dog to Walk in Front of Me?
As the leader, should you let your dog walk in front of you? Or, will this undermine your role as the leader?
Many people would say that the dog should walk behind the owner, especially if they are training their dogs. Trainers usually advocate this because they believe that owners with dogs walking in front are not following the natural leadership order of pack animals. They also claim that when you allow your dog to walk in front, you are allowing the dog to take control.
However, other trainers do not agree with this philosophy. They would argue that dogs should be allowed to walk wherever they feel comfortable and owners should not have a preference on where the dog is walking. They believe that it does not really matter whether their dogs are walking in front or behind, as long as it is not pulling on the leash when walking.
Currently, there are no conclusive studies that can determine which school of thought is correct. Theoretically speaking, both schools of thought have their own merits, and the choice to allow the dog to walk in front or behind still depends on owners' preferences. As Daniel explains:
"Everybody's obsessed with the dog walking next to them or a little bit behind them. Some dogs just refuse to do that over time. No matter how much training you do.
But, if the dog's not pulling on the leash and acting dominant and crazy and reactive to every dog that's walking around and so on, it really doesn't matter if your dog is loose-leash walking and walking a little bit in front of you."
In other words, the old school of thought where a human must behave as a wolf would establish their place as the leader in the hierarchy is just that: old school. It is a myth that has been passed down for a long time.
However, allowing the dog to do as they please may be equally as harmful as not establishing order at all. Therefore, it is important for owners to understand their dog's body language and behavior before deciding whether they should let them lead or follow when walking outside.