This command is always important when you have to move your dog through large crowds, as is often the case in pedestrian zones.
At the end of the exercise, the dog should have learned to walk to the left or right of you. This is particularly important on off-road footpaths and bike lanes. So you know your dog is always by your side. Some dogs take longer to understand “foot” than the other commands. Be patient, your darling will soon master the exercise too.
On your marks, get set, “foot”
Choose a side and, after a short walk, have your dog dismount next to you. Give him the sign to “sit” with the opposite hand and outstretched finger. After short praise, you are both ready for the new lesson “foot”.
Take baby steps
Signal your dog to “foot” by tapping the side of the thigh twice. After a second, starting with that leg, take a step or two forward. Stand still and use the hand signal of your other hand to bring him back to the starting position by commanding him to sit. Now repeat the exercise. Always pick the same side at first, and don’t forget to reward him immediately after each exercise. After a few minutes of training, replace the “foot” with a “done” for example, and give him space to romp, sniff or play.
Your hand gives the signal
Your dog should always respond to your hand signal. If he gets up because you move your foot forward, you have to ignore it. Exercise for a few minutes every day. Only praise him when he responds to the thigh slap. He must not lead or lag behind. Never lure him with treats while training. Many a dog has eaten its fill but has not learned what the command means. As soon as there is nothing left to eat, he will happily pull on the leash again.
If your dog has now grasped the “foot” by taking small steps, increase the number of steps. Slowly expand the sequences and praise him when he stays next to you. If he gets faster and faster, it is foreseeable when you both feel pressure on the leash again. So the training session was still too long. Your dog is no longer in his safety zone and you no longer have his attention. The shorter the training sequences, the more focused your dog will be.
Patience and consistency
Be consistent but kind. It’s no use if you yank the leash like crazy. Your dog doesn’t learn anything at all. Instead, he just becomes more insecure and anxious. If he starts to overtake you, go in the opposite direction. Once he’s back on your level, give him praise. Repeat this a few times. You will be surprised how quickly your dog understands what you are asking of him.
If your dog still doesn’t respond to your commands after the third and fourth try, don’t be afraid to ask professional help for advice. Even if you follow these tips, mistakes cannot be ruled out. A dog trainer can identify these and help you eliminate them.