Does It Matter Which Side the Dog Is on When Walking?by Naomi Millburn
"I'm walking my dog, but I still can use my right hand for other purposes."
If you're new to the exciting and enriching world of canine ownership, then it's smart to learn doggie etiquette down to the nitty-gritty. Although the side on which your pooch walks during outdoor excursions might not occur to you at first, it actually is a helpful thing to consider.
If you visit your local park, you might notice that the majority -- if not all -- of the dog owners you see have their dogs heel to their left. The reasoning for this is not complex or mysterious. Since the bulk of the population is right-handed, this style of dog walking developed out of pure convenience. If a walking dog remains on an individual's left side, it doesn't stop said person from being able to conduct normal activities with her right hand, whether unlocking the car door, signing for a delivery package or picking up the phone.
Guide dogs undergo extensive training to learn how to properly assist their owners. Guide canines all are taught to heel to the left, similarly to most pet dogs. Some exceptions do exist, however. If a guide dog's owner has any medical problems with his left arm or hand, right-side training is necessary for any guide animals he employs.
Although the left side seems to be the societal norm for dog walking, the decision can actually be up to you. Trainers and show dogs are all about one specific side, but dog owners can choose either right or left, whichever they prefer.
Encouraging Your Dog to Walk on Your Preferred Side
If you're training your pooch to heel to your left, begin and make sure he is standing directly to the left of you. Make sure your left hand is equipped with a few yummy treats -- an incentive to get him moving and following your instructions. Then place your left hand directly in front of your cutie's face so he can see and smell the tasty food you are holding. Finally, proceed to move. If he stays on the left, walks smoothly and keeps up with you, enthusiastically say, "Good boy!" to him and offer him a treat prize. Continue this repeatedly throughout the duration of your walk.
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