Well, this is disappointing: my goto resource, dict.cc, provides no indication that folgen is dative. (http://www.dict.cc/?s=folgen), nor does my verb-centric helper, reverso.net (http://conjugator.reverso.net/conjugation-german-verb-folgen.html). Not even Duden (http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/folgen) although I could be missing something since it's all auf Deutsch.
Fortunately, the wiktionary (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/folgen) has this:
folgen (third-person singular simple present "folgt", past tense "folgte", past participle "gefolgt", auxiliary haben or sein)
with dative) to follow
And I found this nifty little article http://german.about.com/library/verbs/blverb_dativ.htm which provides a little assistance for identifying other dative verbs:
many dative verbs can be translated with a to-phrase: antworten, to give an answer to; danken, to give thanks to; gefallen, to be pleasing to; etc.
Unfortunately, it also adds:
This favorite grammar trick of many German teachers does not always hold up (as with folgen, to follow).
Then it warns:
However, even if you are one of those rare people who find all this dative grammar fascinating, it is best to simply learn (memorize!) the more common dative verbs.
And provides a couple of lists of dative verbs, one common, and one less so.
Your dog is going somewhere. You go towards your dog. You both end up where he wants to be. He is not the direct object of an action by you. You do not do anything to him. You simply align your movement with his and go where he goes.
Great explanation! It is like someone and its dog does not move at all if you watch them towards each other! Or we can imagine that it is the earth that is moving (Imagine that earth is moving track and we just stand and do nothing, so anyway we end up in another place from starting point) :)
There are some dative verbs and force all the sentence In Dative (pronoums, articles etc). Please take a look at this link http://german.about.com/library/verbs/blverb_dativ.htm
The PONS dictionary is usually very good with showing which case a verb meaning takes, and even shows common prepositions that are used with the verbs for additional meanings or usage.
The leo.org dictionary often, but not always, shows that information as well.
Those are the two dictionaries that I use most when learning German.