Dog Manual

Lesson Two - Right, Left And About Turn

Other than the command HEEL, which is used throughout, there is no definite command for the execution of this lesson. The dog must be given every possible assistance, consequently the command HEEL should be issued at every turn, whether right, left or turn about. If, for instance, while walking straight ahead, you make a sudden turn in a different direction without issuing the command, the dog would naturally continue straight ahead. He would then be brought up short with a jerk at his neck and this, from previous experience, would confuse him because it spelled punishment.

Therefore the command HEEL is given to attract his attention, to make him look up at his guide and get the cue for the new direction. Later on when he is perfectly trained and the full meaning of these commands has penetrated his brain, he will of course obey the slightest sign without command. But until that stage has been reached, commands and signs must be lavishly employed.


The Sign—None

Right and left turns are half turns to the right or to the left, executed quickly and without stopping or looking back at the dog. About turn is understood to be a full turn in the opposite direction, or a right-about-face. It is executed to the right because it is easier to teach and also to practise.

RIGHT TURN: Hold the leash in the right hand, the hand dropped at the right side, the leash short enough to keep the dog close to the left side, and the left hand free at the left side.

Command HEEL and start straight ahead, walking briskly and keeping the dog close to the left side. Repeat the order at intervals as you proceed. Now turn sharp right, at the same time repeating the command and patting the dog's head with the free left hand. The leash will be crossed in front of the guide and, as the turn is made, the guide will be walking against it in such a way as to pull the dog around. Should he attempt to pull away when the turn is made, quickly grasp the leash with the left hand and bring him around with a slight jerk. Upon completion of the turn, release the leash with the left hand which once more becomes free, and walk straight ahead as before.
LEFT TURN: Start out with the same procedure as followed for the right turn with this exception: When turning to the left, command HEEL and at that very moment step out with the right foot, bringing the right knee across the left knee far enough to bump against the dog which should be close to the left side. This will indicate to him that he must turn left with you, and it will prevent the guide falling over the dog.

Exactly as in the case of the right turn, if the dog does not respond quickly, grasp the leash with the free left hand and pull him around. Then, once the turn has been made, continue on the straightaway for a little distance before making another turn as described in the right turn exercise. It is true that this turn is slightly more difficult to execute and it may seem awkward at first but practise in the end will make it perfect.

ABOUT TURN: Giving the command HEEL, start out on the straightaway as described in the right turn exercise. ABOUT TURN is executed to the right, but instead of making a half turn to the right, make a quick right-about-face. Hold the leash in the right hand, across the front of the guide exactly as described in the right turn exercise; and if the dog does not follow around instantly, use the left hand to assist him. But be sure to make this turn a sharp right-about-face! In other words, avoid going around in a circle by using several steps. Repeat these exercises several times at first, then mix them until the dog has become sufficiently familiar with them to execute them without the use of the left hand on the leash. Give the command and pat the dog's head frequently to inspire confidence and to give encouragement. And do not stop while petting or praising, lest the dog consider this a sign to jump up on the guide and frisk about him, thus ruining the original idea of holding his position close to the guide's side.

While engaged in this exercise, some dogs acquire the habit of pulling over to the right side, especially when making right turns. Needless to say, such a fault must be remedied in the very beginning. A light slap on the muzzle with the right hand "will teach him what to expect from the right hand, also that "left is right." And just as soon as he falls into the correct position at the left side, praise him.

Again let me emphasize the importance of keeping the dog close to the left side and of executing these turns short and fast. To make them slowly is to necessitate several steps, resulting in a circle, in which case the dog is quite liable to get out of reach and control. This has a bad effect on the lesson, HEELING OFF THE LEASH, for he will respond in sloppy fashion rather than in a clean-cut manner. After regular, twice-daily practise, the dog will learn the correct turns in HEELING in a very short time.