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Training Your Dog To Make Turns On The Lead

It’s not a difficult thing to train your dog so that he makes turns on the lead. Start with a quick check of his collar to ensure you have the right weight and length. Then you’ll want to feel around your pet’s neck to make sure that the collar is placed correctly on the dog. Once you’ve determined that he’s as comfortable as possible, begin training. When holding your leash, a six-foot length is about right so that you can keep your dog under control. Hold on with both hands, carrying it comfortably. Keep it short but slack.

Start your lesson with simple commands like “Sit” and “Heel.” So that your dog will remain attentive, make right-about and left U-turns every few feet. Your commands can go something like this: Say “heel” then jerk the leash a bit. Now give your dog some praise. A pleasant happy tone of voice will make your dog realize that you are happy with him. And praise is what your friend loves to hear from you! Try the sequence again: Say “heel” then jerk the leash a bit. Now give your dog some praise.

Now give your dog the “sit” command, and use hand signals (up with the right hand, down with the left). Make sure you’re using praise every chance you get. If you have a large dog, it’s interesting to note that large dogs can be brought around on the about-turn more quickly if you kick backward (gently) with the right foot to rap the dog unexpectedly on the rear. Praise should follow this.

Before you tell your dog to sit, transfer the lead from the left hand to the right hand. This shortens the lead, giving you more control over the dog and making him sit straight. Isn’t it better to prevent mistakes, so you don’t have to discipline your dog later? Cuff him before he sits; don’t wait until he already is! If he is sitting crookedly, cuff him harder.

Now the next command is “about turn”, then jerk the lease. Give praise and keep moving. It’s better to walk at a brisk pace, especially on the about-turn. If your dog is getting distracted by things around him, use a series of snappy, short jerks on the leash. 

As the leader, it’s important that you remember to jerk the lead in the direction of travel, not up in the air. When you make an about-turn, pivot sharply to the right; then snap the lead parallel to the floor after you are headed in the opposite direction of where you were going before. When you make a left U-turn, bump into the dog gently to make him draw back by himself.

Remember to not drag or hold the leash tight to make a correction. You’ll hear the collar click when you snap the lead the right way. After you jerk the leash, reassure your dog by patting your thigh and coaxing him to come in close.

It’s not necessary to exaggerate your hand motions. Use your wrist, as well as bending the elbow and snapping the leash short and hard. Throughout training use this sequence: command, correct, praise.

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