Direction changes

I hate to see a dog out on a walk with their owner and being yanked at every turn.  If you are going to turn around; make a right or left hand turn it makes sense to give your dog a little notice.  I was watching a woman and her dog jogging around the park the other day; every time the woman changed direction she yank her dog off balance.  If your dog is mid sniff; let them know you'd like to move on.  Heading for a tree?  Let them know you need them to stay on your side of it; otherwise you can get into that embarrassing situation when your dog is wrapped around a tree.  

These direction and impending obstacle verbal cues take a while to set in but once they are in; they're in.  I love that all of my dogs understand these cues and heed them when they hear.  Luke is probably the best direction follower; of course he is 3 years younger than Tilley and four years younger than Jessie.  Unfortunately Jessie has past the point of hearing verbal cues and seeing visual cues so I need to gently guide her.  Although if I stop at a post or tree she will still come around my side, smart little gal she is.

My favorite direction cue is "this way" I have taught the dogs that it means that I am changing direction.  If they hear the cue "this way" they stop to see where I am going.  If they are off leash and out in a field; a "this way" shouted to them has immediate attention on me.  I use the cue daily at home as well; they clearly understand that it means I am changing directions, they like to know where I am always going.

If they are sniffing and I'd like to get going; they get a "let's go."  This is a much better option than yanking.  My cue for staying on my side of a tree, post or pole is "this side."   To teach this I would approach a tree; as one of my dogs takes the route around the tree I hold the leash taught.  I repeat "this side;" when they loosen the leash they are praised, when they come around my side they receive a treat and lots of praise.  It takes only several times to instill this behavior on cue.  And once they learn it I always give it to them before they head behind the tree.

Another great one is "turn;" this I teach for when they are walking directly beside me.  It means that I will be walking directly in front of them; literally cutting them off.  They learn to stop and move back at this verbal cue.  I teach this by having the dog by my side and a little back so that when I turn into them I don't wipe out and they don't get stepped on.  This one is learned very fast but you must accompany it with a lot of praise.  Some dogs can become a bit apprehensive when you keep cutting them off at first.  But lots of "you are amazing," and treats helps even the most timid to overcome this.  You must give the verbal cue before turning; a heads up.

Life is much more enjoyable when you give your dog a heads up.