Right About, Left About

Today was far too nice a day to be stuck inside for all of it, so even though I have to be stuck inside for most of it, owing to things that need done, I was able to go out for a little walk with the Beast today. Today’s exercise was turns, and the difference between “Right” and “right about”, and “Left” and “Left about”.

Another owner/trainer suggested that teaching a “Right about”, which is a 180-degree right turn, and of course by extension a “Left about”, would be useful. None of my program trained dogs would do this, and in fact turning around involved dropping the harness handle and turning, then picking the harness handle back up and going, or whatevering. Still, even if “Righta bout” and “Left about” were of absolutely no use, and they probably will be of some, though I think “Right about” more than “Left about”, they’re useful in at least one respect: they’ll be something I can ask Hilda to do that’s different from a right or left, and something that she wants to do naturally.

We started by going to the nearest corner and making curb to curb rights and lefts, just as an exercise. I note some reluctance, especially to turn left, and I’m not sure why. Anyway, we then worked out “Right about” and “Left about”, which she seemed to pick up very quickly. Seems “Right about” came more quickly than “Left about”, which is OK, since I think I’d actually use that more. We finally took our actual left, after just doing turns and Hilda probably wondering, “OK, what’s the point?”. Went down the block, took another left, and worked on our weird corner with the offset crosswalks, that is, offset in relation to the sidewalk. We crossed all four ways, and walked to all four crosswalks, although before making the last one to go back the way we came, we took the right and walked up a block, specifically so we could do a “right about”. After doing the offset corners a few times each, that is, and when she got it on her own without extra prompting.

On one block, a block up from my house, we were walking back towards the corner I live on but one block up, and we encountered the back end of a car. Hilda stopped and did her indecision dance. I didn’t direct her around the car, just encouraged her to decide which way to go. She started to go the wrong way, towards the front of the car to go around, then changed her mind and made the correct decision. Went around, and almost kept going up along the other side of the car. Just one little “Hupp-up” reminded her to pick up her line again, and we were off.

This trip had lots of bouncing and looking around and a bit of drifting and speed changes as one thing or another caught her interest. Even so, for the most part she stayed pretty on task, especially considering her age and maturity and how it’s such a lovely spring day.

When we got to the corner just ablock up from home, Hilda decided she was going to immediately take that left to go home. I didn’t necessarily want her to do that, or at least I didn’t want her to get into the habit of makinga decision like that without an OK, so we went up to the curb and worked some more on curb to curb turns. She was quite reluctant to make that left, and she really wanted a left about. I did eventually make two lefts to go the way she wanted, but it was a great opportunity to reinforce, yes, thank you foryour input, now we’re going this way. We’ll definitely be working on these things more.

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