I know lots of people who can say “right!” and their dog turns right; they say “left!” and their dog turns left. With Elly–agility dog number 1 and a wicked sense of humor–I relied entirely on body language. With Dancer, I inadvertently taught “this way” and “that way” long before I realized there were other possibilities. With Rush, I’m actually trying to teach him his left from his right. This is a challenge for me, partly because I struggle with left and right myself. I had trouble learning the difference, and didn’t manage it until third grade, when my parents subjected me to a whole lot of vaccinations just before we went to Istanbul and Greece. (My left arm was sore for a week.)
I spent an entire clicker class clicking Rush for turning his head 90 degrees right. Then I started saying “right!” just as he was doing it, and then I said “right!” and looked for him to do it and rewarded him when he did. I knew I was making progress, but how much?
Yesterday at the Delta, Dancer and Rush were trotting about twenty feet ahead of me, shoulder to shoulder; I called “right!” and they both looked right, in a pretty simultaneous head turn, and I then called them back to me and gave them both lots of treats.
I’m sure this sounds kind of pathetic, but it was the high point of my day.