I’m not a huge fan of any particular footwork for obedience; just make sure that you’re smooth and that your dog can follow you at all times. But there is one exception to this general statement. I try hard to teach my dogs very specific footwork on their left turns. The goal is to teach the dog to move their rear end in completely before we proceed in the new direction.
You can use my footwork with any dog, but it’s most effective with dogs that show excellent rear end awareness and a very strong understanding of heel position. The basic idea is that the left foot starts the turn by turning left on your line of travel (NOT in your dog’s lane), then the right food points in the new direction (mostly you are straightening out your hips), then the left foot crosses over the right foot in the new direction (single tracking), and from there you proceed normally. The reason this footwork works is that I never enter my dog’s “lane” – I do not round the corner. I do not head in the new direction until my dog is totally pulled into heel position. And since that description is much too cryptic to actually understand, here is a video demonstration without a dog:
Here is a video of Lyra working on a simple drill to help her learn this footwork. This drill uses the footwork shown above, but with a halt on each corner. This drill has two goals: First, to show Lyra that after a left turn I may not go anywhere, making forging much less likely coming out of the turn and second, to teach Lyra to pull her rear end all the way in after we turn to help prevent crabbing:
Some dogs “read” the left turn but fail to pull their rear after the turn. While this is not likely to be scored, it’s not as pretty as a dog who moves all the way in. In addition to the foot cues I described above, practice having your dog do a spin to the left and then complete the left turn. The dog begins to associate these two activities, and soon they get ready to pull their rear in as they see your shoulders starting to turn in the new direction (note that my hand cue for spin also pulls my left shoulder back – same as for a left turn):
And finally, here is the end result using a small dog. Brito is still mastering his left turns, so I will help him as needed both verbally and body help. You can see he is very successful on some and less so on others. This video shows some of the turns at about 90% of what I would do in competition. You’ll see I still slow down slightly to help him succeed on most of them: