why does my dog zig zag in front of me

If you are here then a scenario like this would not be strange to you.

You decide to go out for the day’s walk with your dog, put the leash on him and step out to the outdoors. The walk starts nicely, immediately you try to take in the scenery and enjoy the fresh air you suddenly feel that sharp tug on the leash. Looking down, you see your dog do the zig-zag in front of you.

For some dog parents, when they experience this for the first time they start wondering “why does my dog cut me off when walking” The normal perception is that our dogs should walk by our sides either left or right, at least that is the image television shows and social media sell to us. But as your current experience would be showing you now, you can tell that this is not always true.

So, the question remains Why does my dog zig zag in front of me?

They are naturally faster.

Moving ahead for dogs comes naturally, especially when they are walking with us. They are four-legged animals and whenever they are placed side by side with two-legged beings like us, they would naturally outpace us. Some people would insinuate that this behavior has to do with dominance but look at it from the dog’s perspective. You cannot be dominant in an environment you can’t control and with the outdoors, there are too many things happening and too many things to discover for your dog to even have time to think of being in control.

Excess Energy.

Another major reason why your dog zig zags in front of you is excess energy. Every dog needs to exercise daily and this is even more true for active dogs. Most of us leave our dogs at home and go to work. This simple act done daily leaves your dog with pent-up energy which they would need to dissipate.

The simplest way to handle this is to plan adequate mental stimulation and physical exercise daily for your dog.

Your Dog is protecting you.

Your dog may be acting out its protective nature and just trying to protect you from unforeseen danger. This is especially true if your dog is a guard dog. Remember that in today’s world our dogs are mainly dependent on us for survival, so your dog making sure that you are safe before continuing the walk is very important to them. They simply need to be assured that nothing is going to disrupt their daily schedule with you.             

There is something more interesting out there.       

                                                                                                                                             Curiosity can make your dog zig zag in front of you. You see when you are outside the house, there are so many interesting things that will be competing for his attention. Maybe it is the smell of another dog that was friendly the last time or that leftover food he has been perceiving all day and now has an actual chance of sniffing out or even tasting properly. Maybe it’s that kid that always gives him that special treat that he looks forward to every day.

Whatever it is, it surely has more attraction than you do and would make your dog to run zig zag in front of you.                                    


Using too much leash

The amount of leash you use can decide how your dog behaves when you are outdoors with him or her. Having a long leash gives your dog the impression that they can move around in front of you exploring everything possible, hence blocking you and moving in a zig-zag motion in front of you.

On the flip side having a short leash or a retractable leash will give your dog the impression that pulling on them is acceptable behavior.

In both cases, your dogs will still end up blocking your way.

Lack of  Training

You may be walking zig zag in front of you and tripping you simply because you have not taught it how to behave when you guys go for a walk outside the house. It is just common sense that if you don’t show your dog what you expect from him or her outside the house, your dog will probably feel that they are in the right doing whatever they are doing.

Among all the points mentioned, training your dog ranks high in importance as it can have a positive or negative effect on all the points mentioned.

Why does my dog zig zag in front of me

So if you have been saying “dog runs in front of me” or asking yourself “why does my dog cut me off when walking” well, you have all the possible reasons above.

So the next logical question would be how do I stop my dog from walking across or zig-zagging in front of me?


In summary, you can get your dog to stop zig-zagging in front of you by training your dog on how to be on a leash and also training your dog on the “Heel” command.

But before you do that, you should take into consideration some of the factors below:

i.  What is your daily schedule like?

Your daily schedule determines the amount of time you actually get to spend with your dog. How big or small is this time and what actually do you plan to achieve with it?

ii. How much attention do you really give your dog?

Spending time with your dog does not translate to giving him or her attention or as we like to call it “quality time”. You can spend time with your dog and ignore each other throughout the period. The same time can be spent whether big or small interacting, training and bonding properly with your dog.

iii. What are your walking routes?

It is good to expose your dog to many scenarios all around him when you step outdoors, but it is also good to be strategic about your walking routes. Changing walking routes at random not only confuses your dog but also provides an extra distraction from you and the training that you are hoping to achieve successfully with them.

It is always advisable to make your dog conversant with one route before switching to another route this way, your dog will not only be able to understand and enjoy your walks, they would be able to explore their surroundings and enjoy their time with you without getting over-excited.

1. Use proper walking gear with your dog.

Basically, the two main things needed when going on a walk with your dog are a leash and a harness. As much as possible, avoid using Retractable leashes. Retractable leashes easily make a dog get adjusted to being pulled and this is not what you want. The main thing we want to achieve is for our dogs to walk by our sides.

When beginning the walks or starting the training, it is advisable to use 4-foot long leashes. This length is neither too long nor too short and is just right for walking your time. With time as your dog learns what is expected of him or her, you may increase the length of the leash. This depends on how much freedom you actually want to give your dog.

For Harnesses, the main thing is to purchase ones that will not choke your dog and does not make it easy for our dogs to pull on them.

2. Train your dog on using the leash.

Follow these steps outlined to teach your dog how to work on a leash

a. Choose a side and start practicing walking on a loose and short leash(4-foot long) in an area without distraction.

b. If your dog tries to zig-zag in front of you stop immediately and use verbal cues or any preferred hand signal to get him or her back to the proper side.

c. When they get back to the proper side reward them preferably with treats or verbal approval. When starting this training. Treats would work better than verbal approval.

d. Begin the walk again and repeat the process above if your dog tries to cross your front.

e. Be consistent with your training. Your dog may not catch up immediately and may need more time to learn.

f. As your dog becomes more adept at walking with you on a leash, increase the length of the leash slowly to give them the required freedom you want them to have.

g. For dogs that are active or have excess energy, you can hire the services of a professional dog walker to help dissipate the pent-up energy.

h. Remember to use positive reinforcement techniques, avoid punishing your dog to get the best of the situation.

You can read more about handling dog leash problems here: DEALING WITH DOG LEASH PULLING PROBLEMS

3. Train your dog on the “Heel” command.

You can take more control over your dog’s zig zagging in front of you and further establish your control on him or her by training your dog on the “Heel” command.

The “Heel” command teaches your dog to practically stay still by your side and move only when you move. You can get an in-depth guide on teaching your dog this command here: DOG TRAINING GUIDE THE HEEL COMMAND