Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your dog.

How to Teach a Dog to Walk on Your Right or Left

Learn about teaching a dog not to zig-zag in front of you.

Does your dog like to zig-zag all over the place when you're walking him on a leash? Not only is that annoying, but it can also be dangerous. It's a good idea to train your dog to stay on one side of you or the other while you walk together.

But how do you train a dog to do that?

Should I Teach My Dog Not to Zig-Zag?

The short answer to this is absolutely. A dog that zig-zags in front of a person while walking on a leash is a trip hazard. And almost 90% of falls people take that land them in the emergency room involve tripping over a dog or cat!

Also, having a dog that knows how to heel and also not pull on the leash is critical for maintaining safety on walks, being able to navigate through crowds with your leashed dog, and allowing others to walk your dog without putting them at risk for tripping.

For more information on teaching a dog not to pull on a leash, check here: "How to Teach Your Dog to Walk Nicely on a Leash."

This is also an excellent time to talk about retractable leashes. At, we do not recommend them. They are extremely dangerous, especially for a dog that zig-zags, and once you teach your dog to stay on one side of you or the other and not pull on the leash, you won't have any reason for one anyway. Learn more: "Retractable Dog Leashes: Know the Risks."

How to Train Your Dog to Stay on One Side

Start by practicing inside or outside in a spot where there are no distractions. Put your dog on a leash, show him a treat in your hand, and start walking. If he crosses in front of you, stop and use the treat to guide him back to the side you want him on. Once he's in the right spot, continue walking.

In the beginning, use a short leash, so your dog can't get too far ahead of you. As your dog learns to stay on one side of you better, you can gradually use a longer leash.

Remember, stay positive and stick to short training sessions. End on a positive note, so your dog experiences success.

Clicker Training Can Help Teach Your Dog Faster

Clicker training is a great way to positively reinforce when your dog is on the right track. It generally leads to faster dog training. You use a clicker to make a noise when your dog is doing the right thing. You can also then give praise and a treat, but the clicking noise comes first and is the fastest way for you to react. That means that, even as your dog is heading in the right direction, toward your side, you can click and let him know he's on the right track.

Learn more: "Clicker Training for Dogs: An Overview."

Incorporate Teaching Not to Pull

As you're teaching your dog not to zig-zag in front of you on the leash, you can also train him not to pull by stopping when he does and directing him back to a position that leaves the leash loose. Then click or praise and give a treat.

The general idea is to reward your dog for staying at your side and not pulling. You can do that by showing him that he gets praise (and is allowed to keep moving, which he wants) when he does so.

For more tips and tricks for teaching your dog these skills, check these articles:

"How to Teach a Dog to Heel"

"How to Train Your Dog to Walk Nicely on a Leash."

You May Also Like These Articles:

How to Train Your Dog to Walk Nicely on a Leash

6 Bad Behaviors in Dogs That We Help Create

Retractable Dog Leashes: Know the Risks

Avoid These Common Mistakes Dog Owners Make at the Vet

How to Teach a Dog to Heel

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site. Just Answer is an external service not affiliated with

Notice: Ask-a-Vet is an affiliated service for those who wish to speak with a veterinary professional about their pet's specific condition. Initially, a bot will ask questions to determine the general nature of your concern. Then, you will be transferred to a human. There is a charge for the service if you choose to connect to a veterinarian. Ask-a-Vet is not manned by the staff or owners of, and the advice given should not delay or replace a visit to your veterinarian.