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teaching "Right" and "Left"

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I want to teach Jester the commands "go right" and "go left" for use in agility, and for other practical purposes as well. There was a BC in my last agility class who knew these commands and I was very impressed, but I didn't have a chance to ask the trainer how she taught the dog. Does anyone have experience with this and can offer me training techniques, tips, or advice? Thanks.

D'Elle and Jester

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Start by having the dog on your left side (for a left) OR right side (for a right) using your hand/food/motivator turn the dog in a spin away from you. Reward the dog back on your side. If you have a clicker get it out! and start shaping. Work it also on the right the dog should turn and do a spin away from you again being rewarded back at your side. A motivated dog should pick this up very quickly, they will have a side that is easier usually work the other side 2X more!!! Remember the dog is turning AWAY from you not into your side.

Once your dog is responding to a simple flip of the hand cue to do a spin away work on doing this while you are walking and then running in a straight line.

As your dog is offering you the behavior %80-90 put your lefts/right commands in place. As you get good at this instead of having the dog do the complete turn away from you cross behind them as they are turning and meet them on the other side. You can even work in a circle and have them flip out and away from you with you meeting them in the opposite direction!!!!

Good Luck and

Happy Training!



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we trained it by tossing a toy left and saying "left" as they turnd that direction and after that was down starting toss ing the toy right and saying :right" as they went to the right to get the toy lol for agility I find it easiers to say "that way" and point lol but thats just for Happy and she is weird, I do a jumpers coarse and all I do is say "over" or "tunnel" and she takes the correct jump or tunnel every time, how she knows is beyond me lol when I want Happy to search a specifice area I just point in the direction and say "over there" if I mean away from me, and "over here" if the spot is near me. she does know right and left but I hardly ever use them lol

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I tried using a directional command in agility - but I can't keep my rights from my lefts straight as it is...there is NO way that I could run a course and yell the correct command!!!


I find that keeping my mouth shut and using my body is much easier, faster and much more clear to my dog.


Buddy does know "turn" but it's based on my shoulder positioning and the direction he is heading. (If he's heading to the right, I turn to the left and say "turn" and he's turn to the left). This way, I don't have to worry about screwing up my left and right.


"Go right!!! No, the OTHER right!!!"


Denise :rolleyes:

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Originally posted by BigD:

I tried using a directional command in agility - but I can't keep my rights from my lefts straight as it is...there is NO way that I could run a course and yell the correct command!!!

Amen, sister! I gave up on lefts and rights since I can't remember them at the best of times, never mind on a course. Now we have a pretty limited list of commands that we use on course:


  • OK (release from startline stay or contacts)
  • Go (take whatever is in front of you)
  • Come here (take whatever is between you and me)
  • Out (move away laterally in the direction of my onside arm and take whatever obstacle is out there)
  • Turn (turn away from me, take the obstacle, and I'll show up eventually on your other side)
  • Steady (add a stride 'cause we're going to be changing direction next)
  • Wooshhhhhhhhhhhhh (encouraging noise made in weave poles - ok, not really a command but the only other thing I say on course)

To be honest, I don't use the equipment's name at all since my dogs don't know the obstacles by name. I'd say 95% of our communication is body language, and 75% of the time, even that isn't correct.


My dogs compete at Advanced/Masters levels in AAC, and Elite in NADAC, and our lack of verbal directionals certainly hasn't been a hindrance so much as poor timing and a tendency to get muddled on course.


This doesn't bode well at all for my new dog, an Open level sheepdog who requires whistles. I sense a great deal of muddling in my future.

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I've trained left and right with 2 of my dogs by having them in front of me and facing me and I lured and used a clicker. Once they could spin left and right on cue I started teaching it on a single jump with a toy (over the jump left with a toy on the ground to the left). I only use left and right on a course when I've walked the course using it and really I think that body language is 75% of it. My experienced dog is pretty reliable with left and right and it has really come in handy at time when I want him to go left while I go right. The inexperienced one who just started trialing is still mostly just responding to my body language but I do use left and right in trials a little bit. With my youngest dog I'm just going to teach turn, I think. No particular reason for that because I'm happy with left and right on my older dog, I just see that turn works for a lot of people and will probably be easier to use on the fly.

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The name of the game is to have fun. I used a tug toy and spun the dog with the toy left and right, giving a left command as he spun to HIS left and a right command as he spun to HIS right. After a few sessions I could use just a flick of the wrist to induce a spin and have transferred that to a hurdle. My dog now gets the left and right turns on command 90% of the time.

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