Lesson Two - Right, Left And About
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.