Why Does My Dog Walk Behind Me Off Leash?

Let’s assume you are going out for a walk with your dog and take off the leash. This happens a lot as dog owners become confident in their dog’s passive behavior and know they are well-trained. In this case, you may decide to take off the dog leash when walking. Keeping this in mind, you might start wondering, why does my dog walk behind me off leash?

Dogs walk behind humans off leash as a sign of submission and/or to protect the individual. This is done as a natural behavior that is seen in pack animals such as dogs when they are lower in the hierarchy.

In this case, a human or you would be higher in the hierarchy and as a result would receive respect from the dog. They will refuse to walk in front of you due to this reason.

Key factors include:

  • Time Spent With The Dog
  • Submissive Personality
  • Trained or Not Trained

It is important to note not all dogs off leash are going to walk behind you. Some are going to rush in front while others aren’t going to think about hierarchy at all. This is just as normal as a dog walking behind you because it depends on the dog.

It is their perception when it comes to the situation but a lot of dogs do walk behind owners when off leash.

This article will look to further answer the question, “Why does my dog walk behind me off leash?” while also focusing on other questions associated with taking a dog off leash while walking.

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Reasons for a Dog Walking Behind You Off Leash

1. Sign of Submission

This is the most normal reason for a dog walking behind humans off leash.

In general, it is a sign of submission and/or respect. The dog simply is following the hierarchy that has developed between you and it.

Over time, they realize you are the leader and they will want to show respect by walking behind you. In a pack, they would not have the opportunity to remain in front of the leader and the same applies here with humans.

It is all about the dog’s perception when you start asking “Why does my dog walk behind me off leash?” because some will refuse to do this while others will.

It is going to depend on the dog.

why does my dog walk behind me off leash

2. Protecting Leader of the Pack

Let’s assume you are the leader of the pack.

In the wild, you would have to be protected by the other dogs in the pack. In this case, they would walk behind you to thwart threats while you can take care of what is in front of your eyes as the strongest dog.

The same applies here with you as a dog owner.

Dogs are pack animals and it is often assumed those lower in the hierarchy will protect the leaders from the back which in this case would be the dog owner.

The dog is simply following its natural instinct by walking behind you.

A dog walking behind you is something that will come to them organically as soon as they are off leash and get to choose how they are walking.

why does my dog walk behind me off leash

3. Naturally Comfortable for the Dog

When asking “Why does my dog walk behind me off leash?” you have to think about comfort as well.

Some dogs are simply comfortable walking behind you. They want to see you as they walk as it provides them with peace of mind rather than having to turn their head.

Dogs are just like humans when it comes to having preferences and some will like the idea of walking behind the dog owner whether it has to do with submission or not.

This is just as normal as them setting a hierarchy in their minds or becoming submissive.

A dog off leash will have more control over how it walks and that is what makes it walk behind you.

Related Questions

1. Can I Trust My Dog Off Leash?

A trained dog can be trusted off leash but it will vary from dog to dog. It’s recommended to train with a dog off leash for short bursts in open spaces to see how they respond. An untrained dog should not be kept off leash as it will run away and/or do as it pleases.

2. Should Dogs Meet On Leash or Off Leash?

Dogs should meet off leash as it is safer. Leashes can lead to knots, injuries, and/or other related issues as soon as the two dogs begin circling each other or coming closer. It’s recommended to take off the leashes well in advance before two dogs meet.

Final Thoughts

Why does my dog walk behind me off leash?

For the average dog, they are simply walking behind you because it is a sign of submission and/or respect. They want to show you that you are the leader of the pack.

This is something that would happen in the wild.

Here is more on dogs – tips for carrying a dog down a set of stairs, giving tennis balls to a dog, dogs that hate going outside, and collecting dog hair around the house while cleaning.