When I walk my dog, a small male Maltese, he keeps running in front of me, sniffing and drugging me behind him. Whoever sees us, laughs. They say that the dog takes me for a walk. How can I teach him to walk next to me?
A basic obedience class sounds like a good idea here – the dog is ruling the roost, and you need to gain control.
However, for walking in general, when you first start out, tell the dog to "heel", which means he needs to stay at your side. Give him enough leash so it’s not pulling his collar tight to his neck, but not so much that he can get too far away from you.
As soon as he starts to pull, don’t allow him to – keep a firm grip on the leash, "pop" him back next to you, and talk to him while you are walking – use your voice to keep his focus on you and not on the trees or anything else you pass.
While you are walking, don’t walk a straight line. Zig Zag, do a lot of starts and stops, do a lot of turns. While it will look strange to folks passing by, it will teach the dog to pay attention to you, as he will never no where you are going to go next.
Do not use a treat to lure the dog – – – you want the dog to listen to your voice commands, and what happens if you don’t have a treat with you – Many dogs who are trained with treats will not listen if the treat is not available.
Make the dog "heel" next to you, then have a release command, OK, all right, all done – a simple one or 2 words that tells the dog it’s okay to leave your side and visit the tree or fire hydrant or ???. let them sniff, etc., for a few minutes, with you standing still so they can only go the distance of the leash. Then tell the dog to heel, get them back at your side, and continue walking.
The dog will learn that heel means they need to stay with you, and OK (or whatever you use for the release) means they can go sniff.