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Zoe

" turning around " question - agility

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Dylan learnt the command "turn around " in the bath. We are working on a very low teeter, a raised plank and a pause table at the moment. He adores all of them and has mastered the one RTO position and will run to the end of the teeter and do that for me. It is Soooo cute ! Anyway, he is also offering other behaviours on the equipment - sits, downs and turn arounds. I noticed that he always turns around clockwise - I don't think there is a problem with that, but checked it on his pause table. I ask him to turn around and he goes clockwise every time. I tried to get him to turn around anti-clockwise by holding a piece of liver in my hand and leading him by having him follow it with his nose. He didn't like to turn the whole way and jumped off. I have tried it a few times over several days and he can go all the way - just doesn't seem confident and won't offer the behaviour. I am not pushing him at all but will work on it using hand signals/treats to indicate which way I want him to turn. He can do " go around " both clockwise and anti-clockwise - I have a cone at home and he'll do it up close and at a distance. I use hand signals for that. And he can turn left and right over a jump - again I use signals and he'll work off both sides.I just found it curious that he finds turning around anti-clockwise difficult.Maybe it is because I never trained him to do it both ways... Has anyone else noticed this with their dogs ? Do they have a preferred side - like we are left or right handed ?

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Yep - dogs are 'handed' just like people. It can show up in the way they turn naturally e.g. after picking up a retrieve object, or turning after going out to the send-out area in Utility Dog directed jumping exercise. Where we learn flyball, we use this to determine which way they are going to turn on the flyball box, and hence which side you want the ball loaded.

 

As you've discovered, you can teach them to go the other way - Kirra will do a 'spin' in each direction now - but sometimes you just have to work slowly past the 'blocking' point.

 

It seems to apply to 'roll-over' as well. My Fergus always does it the one way - onto his left side first. I must admit I haven't seriously tried to teach him to go the other way - but the odd time I've tried, he obviously finds it quite unnatural.

 

Dogs working sheep will often show the handed-ness - some being much more comfortable going away (anticlockwise) and others more naturally preferring come/go by (clockwise).

 

Weird stuff, isn't it?

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Thanks Barb - I thought as much. It is so interesting watching them isn't it - and how they learn and become more confident. I'm hooked line and sinker !!! BTW, I never updated about our SAR visit. I mean to, it is just that there is so much to think about and I'm trying to get my head around it all. At any rate we are starting training and am feeling excited about it. As I type Dylan is asleep on his pause table !!! I've got a teeter along the wall and a pile of wood in the corner to make a ladder !!! We are going to have to move to a bigger house !

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Hey Zoe, that's very cool about the SAR training. We don't have any purely civilian SAR groups here in Tasmania, so our only chance for tracking is in competitive tracking.

 

Know what you mean about a bigger house. I live on a one and a quarter acre block (though it's on a slope, and there's not a big area of flat ground.) So the pups and I have to go out for training - agility, tracking, obedience and flyball. It's a very busy life they lead! But isn't it fun!

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Zoe , If you aregoing to do agility you must work your dogs weekside as much or more then his strong side.

You will also have to work your weeknesses .

 

Enjoy wore dog bobh

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Zoe , If you aregoing to do agility you must work your dogs weekside as much or more then his strong side.

You will also have to work your weeknesses .

 

Enjoy wore dog bobh

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Dogs do show laterality (handedness). My friend actually did her honours thesis studying laterality in shelter dogs and most showed left laterality. I would agree with this as well because dogs find it easier to spin/twist to the left than they do to the right for some reason.

 

If you are serious about agility, you should however work your dog on both sides. When you are walking your dog switch sides infregquently so that he is walking on your left side and your right side.

 

When you are asking your dog to do left twist (anti clockwise), do you give a different command from what you say for a right twist? I would honestly go back to basics and teach it away from the equipment. The way that I teach twist in classes is to do it fast. use a short lead so you have control near the dogs collar and say the command then reward with food. I have always found that this works really well and the dog will twist faster because he is conditioned to get food and praise when he finishes the twist.

 

With Kes I've taught her twist for a left circle and spin for a right, and with Meg I used twist and round. When I was working on the agility courses with meggie, those commands came in vital especially where there were wrong ended tunnels straight after a jump. The twist allowed me to get in position and to attract her away from the wrong end of the tunnel.

 

have fun with your agility

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Having a dog being quite willing to turn one way and not the other can also be indicative of a restriction or injury that is making it uncomfortable for the dog to turn/spin/pivot in one direction. It's one of the first things that I examine when I get a dog that is better on one side than the other and 90% of the time it is due to a physical problem, rather than a right/left preference.

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Colliekat, thanks. I didn't teach Dylan to do turns on equipment - he just offered it. And he doesn't need to turn around on the pause table either as far as I understand. Again, he offered it and because it is a small space I tested him there. Dylan does heel ( at a walk and a run ) on both sides with and without a lead and I have worked on approaching equipment from both sides from day one. I wasn't actually going to teach a turn around for agility purposes - I didn't think it was necessary. I posted this under agility because I thought agility people might have observed this more. I found it curious that he tends to turn clockwise when offering a turn around. BUT, I was really interested to read how you use the two commands on an agility course. I think I am going to have to start attending classes ASAP ! Thanks

 

North of 49 - I really did wonder about that and I didn't mention it in my post because I wanted to see how people responded. If you are reading this, what kind of physical problem in this case do you think it might be. Dylan can do sharp turns back to me both right and left when going around a cone or tree or over a jump etc with no problem as far as I can tell. I thought it was because I had taught him both ways from the beginning. I'd appreciate any insight. He has gotten used to turning both ways since I initially posted, but you have me worried. Thanks !

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Interesting that your friend's research showed left is preferred. In flyball, we teach the dog to turn in it's natural "handed" direction and most of our fastest dogs turn right, including mine. It's a lot of work to keep most flyball dogs "balanced" so they don't overdevelop on one side.

 

It's interesting to note my 11-month old pup naturally prefers turning right, but in mimicing her older pack/playmate (who prefers turning left), has started to show more even sidedness.

 

-Laura

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Originally posted by Zoe:

North of 49 - I really did wonder about that and I didn't mention it in my post because I wanted to see how people responded. If you are reading this, what kind of physical problem in this case do you think it might be. Dylan can do sharp turns back to me both right and left when going around a cone or tree or over a jump etc with no problem as far as I can tell. I thought it was because I had taught him both ways from the beginning. I'd appreciate any insight. He has gotten used to turning both ways since I initially posted, but you have me worried. Thanks ! [/QB]

Sometimes it is just a preference thing, and sometimes it isn't. You have to take a look at how the dog is "avoiding" the turn or doing the turn, if you are asking for basically a tight turn/spin right or left.

 

Sometimes the dog just flat out refuses to do it, or starts to do it and quits, or just can't get it right.

 

Sometimes you will notice that instead of the spine continuing in a nice curve there is a flattened area where you can see the back cannot curve. That usually indicates a restriction in the vertebrae - absolutely nothing that will ever show on an xray and is on a microscopic scale. The problem with Xrays is that they are always taken with the spine or joints in neutral, so there is nothing to see and there is no restriction in neutral anyway. The restriction is either in flexion or extension.

 

It could be there is a rib not sitting right and that will make it uncomfortable, or it could be that there is a soft tissue injury. Say you are trying to get your dog to turn tightly on a come- bye curve. The problem would be on the left side of the dog (the outside of the curve), not on the inside of the curve, but on the outside of the curve of the body that makes it uncomfortable to turn a certain way and that is the only time it shows up is when asking for a tight turn of the body.

 

When any of our dogs appear to be having problem doing some kind of physical thing, the first thing we eliminate is a physical problem, and then we assess whether we need to change how we are teaching the dog or if the dog just has a particular preference for something.

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