I recently posted a video of a client walking her dog on her right side and immediately another trainer questioned me about this. If you have ever been to a dog training class or worked with a professional trainer you were most likely taught to walk your dog on your left side. You may have wondered why the left and not the right or why does it matter. If you are planning on showing your dog you will need to walk him on the left side. If you are walking on the street facing traffic you should have your dog on the left side to keep him out of traffic. But otherwise it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is consistency. If you let your dog cross back and forth this means he is not paying attention to you and shows that you are not really the leader. If you are running with your dog you will risk getting tripped up with the leash. So pick a side and stick with it.

If you have had the pleasure of walking your dog on the new Atlanta Beltline you may have noticed the signs instructing everyone to walk their dog on the right side. This may be confusing to folks who have been taught to always keep the dog to the left, but when you think about it, this really makes sense. People are walking on the right side of the concrete walk, roller bladers, cyclist, skate boarders and joggers are usually on the inside. If everyone is walking their dog on the left they are more likely to trip these other people up. In an urban setting like Atlanta with so many great parks to walk your dogs you may find that walking them on the right is preferred.

The key is consistency. If you can always walk your dog on one side or the other it will be easier on you both, but if you have different situations where you feel you must swap sides then at least stick with the side until you decide to change it. Do not let your dog cross back and forth.

Whichever side he is on you should hold the loop of the leash with the opposite hand and control the leash with the hand nearest your dog. This way the leash is securely anchored and the leash is across your body and the dog positioned at your side. If you give him too much leash he will be more likely to pull and gain momentum if he decides to chase a squirrel.

I believe the best length for the leash is 6’. This will allow you to maintain control and also let him have a bit of freedom to sniff and take care of business when you give the OK. Never use an extendable leash. They teach the dog to pull, that he is in control and they are dangerous.

The most important thing is to be safe and to have fun. By training your dog to walk properly you should be able to do both.