Trainer reveals the secret to stress-free walks with your dog - and it’s all in how you position them

Man walking Labrador on sidewalk
(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the most common sources of shared frustration amongst dog owners is how to get their pups to walk nicely on a loose leash. 

From pulling every time they see a trigger to wanting to jump up and greet every passerby, even with a bag of the best dog treats on hand to encourage good behavior, those daily walks with your dog can often feel more stress-inducing than stress-relieving.

Thankfully, Julianna DeWillems, owner and head trainer at JW Dog Training & Behavior, has come to the rescue with a very cool and surprising tip that will help put the enjoyment back into those walks again - and it's all about ignoring the rule that says your pup should always walk behind or beside you.

"As a dog trainer, I actually don't mind at all if a dog walks ahead of me on our walk," DeWillems says. "We find that less restriction on walks leads to less frustration on both ends of the leash, making the walk more enjoyable for everyone — with some important safety skills built in of course!"

DeWillems goes on to state that from a safety perspective, it's crucial that your dog is able to do certain behaviors if you're going to allow them to walk in front of you.

"They need to be able to respond to their name and walk closely with attention on me for short periods of time while we pass a distraction," she explains.

DeWillems recommends that you practice these skills at home a bunch and also randomly on walks so that when you actually do need the behavior, your dog will be well versed in responding.

"One other safety skill for walks is on the human end," DeWillems says. "When we need to get our dog to us quickly, we walk up the leash *to them* instead of pulling them back to us. Especially for larger dogs, we do not want to get into a pulling match. We simply walk to them and gather our leash up if we need them close to us quickly."

Letting your dog walk in front of you (with the above safety tips in mind) can be a great way of helping to minimize frustration and maximize fun for everyone involved.

For more great tips and tricks, be sure to check out our training guides to how to stop a dog from jumping up and how to crate train a dog.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.