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Which side should your dog walk on?

a small terrier walking next to its owner with the caption which side should your dog walk on

There is no definitive answer to the question what side should your dog walk on, and ultimately it is up to the owner to decide what is best for their dog.

In this post we will explore which side should your dog walk on, and the pros and cons of each option so that you can decide what’s best.

Contents of this article:

  1. Why walk a dog on the left side?
  2. Walking your dog on the right side.
  3. Training your dog to walk on either side.
  4. Does it matter which side your dog walks on?

Why walk a dog on the left side?

Traditionally, dogs have been taught to walk on the left and here’s why.

90% of the population is right-handed. In olden times, having your dog walk on the left would leave your dominant hand free to draw your weapon if needed and also to greet people you may meet on your walk.

Working gundogs are still taught to walk on the left of their handler so they don’t get in the way of the gun when their owner is shooting or walking.

If you are ever likely to show your dog in the conformation ring, then you will need to get them used to walking on the left as this is the side that judges always need your dog to walk on.

There are some people who believe that walking on the left gives you a slight advantage when it comes to obedience training and heelwork as the dog associates being on your left with being in the correct position.

Walking your dog on the right side.

Nowadays, people tend to be more relaxed about which side their dog walks on.

If you have more than one dog and want to walk one on each side, then one of them will need to be taught to walk on the right so that they don’t keep swapping sides and end up tangled in their leashes.

Some people also find it more comfortable to walk their dog on the right-hand side if they are left-handed.

Training your dog to walk on either side.

It can be beneficial for your dog to walk on either side eventually to avoid any muscle imbalances from them looking up at you.

Switching up which side your dog walks on can also be helpful if you’re trying to avoid obstacles or oncoming traffic.

Lots of people like to keep their dog on the side furthest from the kerb, especially if the dog is small, to stop them getting too close to passing traffic and to keep them safe from harm.

If your dog is at all reactive it can be useful to teach them to walk on both sides so that you can block the view of a trigger with your body if necessary.

If you are planning on doing any kind of agility or flyball training with your dog, then you will need to get them used to walking on both sides in some circumstances as they will need to be able to change direction.

Some dog trainers believe that it’s best to start out teaching your dog to walk on whichever side is most natural for you and then gradually getting them used to walking on both sides.

This helps to build up a bond between owner and dog as well as making sure that the dog gets used to being handled from both sides.

Certainly to begin with it is easier for the dog to learn to walk nicely without constantly switching sides if we are clear in our communication and train them to walk in one particular spot.

If we are ambiguous and the dog doesn’t know what’s expected, this can lead to problems with training any behavior, let alone something as tricky as loose leash walking.

Does it matter which side your dog walks on?

If you are unsure about which side to start teaching your dog to walk on, then why not try both and see which they prefer?

Some dogs are more comfortable walking on one side or the other, and it’s important to listen to your dog and let them choose which feels best for them.

So there you have it, there are reasons for teaching your dog to walk on either side but ultimately it is up to you! There is no right or wrong answer, and whatever works best for you and your dog is the way to go.

Check out this post on 300 peck method for teaching your dog loose leash walking.

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A variety of dog accessories including a bowl of dry dog food, a collar and leash and a ball

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