Virginia Simpson and Chance

Teach Your Dog to Move With You

by Virginia Simpson, Unleashed Canine Obedience

Teaching your dog to follow you is arguably the most significant behavior you can mold in your pup.  If your dog is “following” you in every sense of the word, most “bad” behaviors will disappear on their own and a real bond based on trust and understanding is built.  Dogs listen to and naturally focus on the people they follow.  They easily allow their space to be controlled by the people that they follow. 

They listen to your body language, facial expressions and the tone of your voice over the words you say more often than not.   It’s why I can usually get a dog that’s been trained in another language to sit using an English word.  And why we, as a whole, tend to use a lot of hand commands when we are introducing new verbal cues.  Dogs can learn to pay attention and read our body language and facial expressions faster than our cousins, the chimps.  And when we humans clue in on this, it takes your relationship to a whole other level!  So, pay attention to whether or not your body language, facial expressions and tonality are in line with what you are trying to communicate. 

Experiment and try moving your pup without using your voice or a leash.  Can you get them to come to you with only a hand gesture or body movement?  You’ll be surprised!  Try different ways of moving your body in slow repetition.  Maybe it’s squatting down with your arms open wide and a smile on your face.  Maybe walk off in the opposite direction while patting your leg.  Experiment with body language!  Your pup is reading you all the time.  And deep down inside, they really do want to follow you.

If you’ve been struggling with a dog that seems to have spastic energy and isn’t able to quiet itself, sometimes, when you quiet everything down by taking out the voice commands, a shift will occur and the dog starts to hear you and quiet itself.

Take a long line, get out to a big field (with few distractions initially) and just start walking.  Change directions periodically when they stop paying attention to you and without saying anything.  Watch what happens after about 10 minutes.  Notice the glances and gazes up into your eyes.  Notice how they stop hitting the end of the line when you turn and the body position comes in closer and closer.
Reach down quietly and touch the top of their head and smile!  It’s the best reward out there you’ll see!

Interested in learning more?

Please feel free to contact me any time!


Virginia L. Simpson
Certified Dog Trainer
Unleashed Canine Obedience, LLC
IACP Member #3141
Phone:  513.317.7484