If your Labrador 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 causes and what you can do about them.

So, why does my Labrador 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.

There are a lot of reasons why your Labrador might be doing it and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are some things you can do to get it to stop and there are things you can consider when figuring out the main cause.

Why your Labrador walks behind you

Below are some common reasons why Labradors 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 reason 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.

Labradors 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 Labrador or its ancestors. It is likely that Labradors have kept this urge to know about what else has been around recently which could be why your Labrador is always lagging behind you.

In this case, it would help to train your Labrador 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.


Another possible cause might be that something is causing it to be fearful. 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 could also be the case that it has learned that it gets rewards 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, your Labrador will likely do it more so that it can get more rewards.

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 Labrador walks behind you.

When it started walking behind you

If your Labrador did not always walk behind you, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started.

If your Labrador 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

It would also help to consider the timing of when it starts walking behind you.

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 Labrador to stop walking behind you

Below are some options you have when getting your Labrador 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 Labrador 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 Labrador when it walks behind you but you should avoid doing so. If you punish it your Labrador 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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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.