Teach your dog to walk on the left and the right.

As someone who has spent a lot of time training dogs for obedience, I have  always been in the habit of walking my dogs largely on the left hand side of me, as this is the accepted position for competitive heel-work.  Despite, the fact that Floss, my Border Collie, will walk on the right hand side, she does seem to sense some anxiety if she is asked to do so; and prefers to preamble on the left side of me most of the time.

However, there are many reasons for teaching your dog to walk on both the left and the right, not least because it can affect the health of the dog, or even the handler!

When walking on twisting, country lanes it makes sense for your dog to be furthest away from the traffic and if you are to go by the Highway Code, this involves walking towards oncoming traffic putting your dog nearer the vehicles if he is apt to always walk on the left.  That said, it is not always the best policy to walk into oncoming traffic, particularly if you are negotiating winding narrow roads with little or no verge and wide thick hedges or walls, leaving no room for sideways leaping!

dog sitting, pet sittingAs well as obvious hazardous aspects when out and about with your dog who favours one side, there are also health issues to consider.  A dog that always walks on the left, (or the right for that matter), runs the risk of negatively affecting the muscles in his neck and back, particularly if he is the sort of dog who constantly looks back to the right, or up at his owner.  Also consider an owner who is constantly looking left and down at his dog!

If he is the sort of dog that pulls, this can also affect his muscles as he is pulling constantly to one side or the other, (even if he is wearing a harness or halti).  As muscles become unbalanced it can even affect the vertebrae to the extent they become misaligned.  For this reason, horses are lunged, (moved in circles on long reins) on both sides to ensure that damage to the muscles does not occur.  Lunging itself not only trains horses to respond to commands, but helps him to become more flexible and balanced too.

Teaching your dog to walk on both sides of you is quite an easy task, even for dogs that have spent many years being walked on only one side or another.  With the use of tasty treats and a clicker your dog will soon learn how to happily walk on the left or the right (on command) and this will help his body to be more balanced as well as teaching him another ‘skill’.