In my last blog I mentioned that I don’t do much with footwork, but then several people mentioned that they are struggling with their turns, which then causes their dog to make errors.  So let’s take a look at right turns.

This video has six parts:

The first 13 seconds illustrates a box made up of four right turns.  I do not have a dog here and I’m wearing bright pink socks to make it fairly obvious what I’m doing.  I’m working in a small space so I’m moving more slowly and with a shorter stride on the straight portions than I normally would.  Note that I keep my feet relatively close together on the corner – that will prevent you from kicking your dog (especially small ones) on the corner.

From 14 to 28 seconds I add Lyra to the picture and I repeat the same right box.  Note that Lyra is crowding me a bit – under normal training circumstances I would break off from right turns and I would address the crowding behavior.

From 28 to 38 seconds you can see Brito performing the box.  He is also crowding a bit.

From 38 to 49 seconds I show the footwork that I use to train a dog to stay close and tight on the right turn, since moving wide seems to be the most common complaint.  This is ideal “maintenance” footwork for a dog prone to wide right turns.  I did this footwork almost exclusively with both Brito and Lyra for months before adding a regular right turn, because both would prefer to heel wide, though as a result of training you can no longer see those tendencies in their current work.  This footwork assumes that your dog knows to pull in close to you when you sidestep to the right.   If you don’t have that behavior, train it first and then add it to a slow pace of heeling before you incorporate it into your right turns.

From 50 seconds to 1:03 I add Lyra with the training footwork.  Note that I’m pulling my shoulder back somewhat.  That was poor handling on my part because Lyra needs to  learn to follow my shoulder, correctly aligned over my feet, in the final behavior.  Leave that part out!

and from 1:04 to the end, I show the training footwork with Brito.  Here I use slight shoulder help and also  hand help because he is younger and needs more support.  The hand help makes sense; the shoulder help needs to stop.

This training footwork will also help a dog that tends to leave their butt out (crabbing) on right turns, again assuming that the dog is trained to pull in to you when you move sideways.   Just keep your shoulders level, even if I don’t!