How to Strengthen the Following Instinct in Your Puppy

May 9, 2023

Strengthen the following instinct in your puppy

Dogs have a natural following instinct. Following exercises with puppies are a fantastic way to build trust and create a baseline for the early stages of recall and a heel command. This exercise is even more important for breeds who are prone to running away such as the Siberian Husky. We highly recommend this exercise for puppies under 4 months of age to capitalize on that natural instinct while it is still present, however, this can be practiced with older puppies as well.

We do not recommend this exercise for puppies engaging in abnormal levels of separation anxiety.

Following exercises

Teaching a puppy to follow you


  • Puppies should drag a 50ft long line
  • Do not practice around traffic/cars
  • For small breeds, be aware of your environment and birds of prey and other dogs.

We don’t recommend this exercise for petite puppies or walking a far distance away from them.

How to start:

  1. Start alone with just you and your puppy
  2. While holding the long line, walk in the opposite direction of your puppy. When they come towards you, begin praising them. 
  3. When they reach you, you can praise and deliver physical attention. 
  4. Begin to walk in various directions away from your puppy, praise, and repeat. If your puppy is getting distracted, try running and increasing the volume of your praise to get them excited!

Once your puppy is understanding the game, you can increase the distractions with additional sights and smells. If they are mastering that, you can begin to “hide”. Duck behind a tree and then say their name. Let them seek you out! If they are having a hard time finding you, you can make additional noise or whistle towards them. When your puppy finds you, deliver big praise and attention!

We recommend practicing this at least one time per week for 2-3 weeks.

As your puppy grows, check in once a month to be sure they are maintaining the following behavior. Read here for more puppy training tips!