It’s one of the most natural things in the world for us human beings, walking side by side. Unfortunately it’s not at all natural for our dogs. Rarely do they walk that way on their own. When they do, it’s usually only momentarily. That’s what makes teaching loose leash walking so troublesome for so many folks.
Add to that, when our dogs pull we often follow. Dogs learn very early on that putting tension on the leash is just what they need to do to get where they are going. We don’t set any limits and as a result we actually reward our dogs for pulling.
What we really want to do is reward our dogs for walking next to us. I like to start off-leash (yes off-leash) in a safe enclosed area, like a fenced in back yard. Start by walking around the yard casually at your own pace; don’t say anything to the dog. As soon as your dog sidles up beside you simply say “yes” in a cheerful voice and offer him a special bit of food (cheese or boiled chicken is always nice). Then, continue walking on silently. When he comes up alongside you again, say “yes” again and deliver another treat. Before long, you’ll notice that your dog is walking with you with that expectant doggie grin of his. Keep saying “yes” and treating him until you can’t get rid of him.