If your Golden Retriever has been walking behind you a lot, while you’re walking it, you might want to know why and what you can do about it. This post will show you common reasons why they do it and what you can do to get yours to stop.
So, why does my Golden Retriever walk behind me? Possible reasons are that it wants to interact with things, you have inadvertently trained it to do so or that it’s being submissive.
Your Golden Retriever might be doing it for many reasons and it might be due to a combination of them. However, there are some things you can do to get it to stop.
Why your Golden Retriever walks behind you
Below are some common reasons why Golden Retrievers do it and what would make them more likely to be the reason why yours has been doing it.
It wants to interact with things
The cause could be that it wants to interact with things. This would be more likely if it tends to stop and sniff things a lot when it is walking behind you.
Golden Retrievers have a much stronger sense of smell than humans do and they can gather information about what other animals have been around based on the scent that they have left behind.
In the past, knowing about what other animals have been around recently would have been very helpful for the survival of the Golden Retriever or its ancestors. It is likely that Golden Retrievers have kept this urge to know about what else has been around recently which could be why your Golden Retriever is always lagging behind you.
In this case, it would help to train your Golden Retriever to come to you when you call it so that you can call it when it starts lagging behind. It would also help to reward it when it walks beside you as you want it to.
It might also be the case that something has been causing your Golden Retriever to be fearful causing it to follow you around so that it feels safer. This would be more likely if you used to punish it when it would walk alongside or ahead of you. In this case, it would help to avoid punishing it and to use positive reinforcement training, as discussed below, to get it to behave the way that you want.
You have made it do so
It might also be the case that you have encouraged it to walk behind you by giving it things that it wants when it does it. If you tend to give it treats in order to get it to catch up with you or you let it sniff things for longer.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want and to use the tips below to get it to stop sniffing things when you’re walking with it.
It’s unlikely to be because it’s being submissive
Some people would argue that it is a sign that it is being submissive. However, there is research to suggest that dogs don’t actually interact in a hierarchy and they would normally overlap each other and take turns being in front in the wild. So, this would be less likely.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when trying to figure out why your Golden Retriever walks behind you.
When it started walking behind you
If your Golden Retriever did not always walk behind you, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started.
If your Golden Retriever started doing it suddenly, it would make it more likely to be due to things such as you punishing it or rewarding it when it walked behind you one time.
When it does not walk behind you
If it tends to do it more at certain times it would also help to consider what is different about the timing when it does it.
For example, if it doesn’t tend to walk behind you when there are not many things for it to sniff it would make it more likely that it normally does it because it wants to sniff things.
How to get your Golden Retriever to stop walking behind you
Below are some options you have when getting your Golden Retriever to stop walking behind you.
Train it not to with positive reinforcement training
Positive reinforcement training involves encouraging it to behave the way you want by rewarding it when it shows signs of behaving that way.
To use it to get your Golden Retriever to walk alongside you, you would reward it with treats when it walks beside you and stop rewarding it when it lags behind.
You could also train it to come on command so that you can call it whenever it starts lagging behind.
Avoid punishing it
It might be tempting to punish your Golden Retriever when it walks behind you but you should avoid doing so. If you punish it your Golden Retriever will probably not know why and it could lead to it having feelings of resentment or fear.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it might be the case that you have actually been encouraging it to walk behind you by giving it things that it wants when it does it.
Instead, try to reward it when it walks alongside you. When it does walk behind you get it to come to you by training it to come to you as shown in the video below.
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