Friday

Right Side, Wrong Side to Walk Your Dog

My great-grandfather was an Irishman. He was also a breeder of fine Irish Terriers.Perhaps it is genetic memory but I have always had a fondness for that breed. So the other day at the super pet store, I gravitated toward a handsome young Irish Terrier and his very handsome owner...as we chatted, the owner said he was at the store to attend training class and had come early so his dog could settle down before class started.I thought that was a great idea. As the owner walked off, he dragged the dog behind him, gave a big jerk and said very very loudly,"heel!!"
The poor dog could not keep up on the slick floor, his legs were all splayed out on the linoleum,scrambling for all he was worth, the dog tried to stand up and walk a few steps before getting jerked and yelled at to heel again...the owner was holding the leash in his right hand and had the dog on his right side. Perhaps, I thought, this will be the first lesson and the man has not yet learned how to walk his dog.
A few minutes later I spot the instructor walking the dog in the class ring.She was walking the dog on her right side with both hands on the leash, picking him up by the neck with the leash as he slid on the very slick floor.
Now why on God's green earth would ANYONE try and train a dog to walk on a surface with such poor footing and why would you want to train your dog to walk on your right side???????
Remember that this man and the other people in class with him paid over a hundred dollars for this sham of a learning session.
The dog is not going to concentrate on what you are trying to teach him if he is busy trying to stand up. That is just common sense. But I see this happen at various pet stores who offer so-called training all the time. At least provide the clients dogs' some secure footing for their hundred plus dollars please, big corporate pet store.
Walking a dog on the right side drives me nuts...it makes no sense to me. Most homes and retail establishments are geared to right handed people and thus doors and gates are made to be opened with your right hand....how are you going to open a door with your right hand if your right hand is already holding your dog, (or worse, both your hands are holding your dog). If you meet someone on the street and engage in conversation, your dog should sit quietly by your left side while you talk. If you shake hands with that person, which hand do you extend? THE RIGHT HAND of course. I could go on and on but I believe I have made my point. I don't understand why these pet store trainers are taught such nonsensical habits to pass on to unsuspecting dog owners....suppose the owner of the Irish Terrier decides he wants to go on and get a Canine Good Citizen certification or make his dog a Therapy dog or compete in obedience...well then, his dog will have to unlearn what the pet store instructor taught them about walking on the right side as proper heelwork is always on the left side of the dog. In other words, the man will have wasted his money...(money better spent on green beer Puff says). Real dog training clubs, many of them sanctioned by the AKC do offer Canine Good Citizen Programs and Therapy Dog training. Check your local area for a club near you before wasting money on a pet store program.
Happy St. Paddy's Day !

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

BIG question. do you know for SURE wich side you should walk you dog?

Debie said...

Duh, yeah anonymous, I believe I made my point in the post. If you have two healthy arms, then you should choose the left side to walk your dog on. Why do you think ALL obedience competitors train their dog to heel on the left side? CGC dogs are trained to walk on the left side, Therapy dogs walk on the left side,show dogs gait on the left side...all because we live in a world geared to righthanded people. When you walk down the street, your dog is safer if he is walking on your left side because you should be properly walking on the left side of the road facing traffic.So yeah, I do know for SURE which side you should walk your dog.
All dogs don't have to heel perfectly,personally I am not a fan of heelwork for the average pet dog, but they should learn to walk quietly at their owners left side. And you can start by holding the leash in your left hand.

2LapDogs said...

Debbie your point on the slippery floor training is a good point, but I don’t agree with walking your dog on the left side. Yes walking your dog on the left is what’s taught at almost all obedience schools but to me this doesn’t make it right. First you say most people are right handed therefore having to use their right hand to open a door, well this only applies when opening a door that swings in towards the right or out to the right, not doors that swing to the left. Door’s aren’t always laid out for a right handed person. In my house and every house/apartment I have ever lived there were just as many doors that swung to the left as the right. Walking against traffic is the correct thing to do and in most places a law, but again I don’t think walking the dog on the left is correct. Picture yourself walking against traffic and your dog that’s walking on your left decides he’s going to dart across the road at a cat. Just at the same time a car is coming and the dog pushes you into traffic. This would not be a pretty picture. And what about if the driver got a little to close, would you rather you or your dog dies? Now what about walking your dog on a sidewalk? When you walk on a sidewalk you walk on the right side correct? Wouldn’t you want your dog on your right as far away from other people or dogs also walking on the sidewalk? Also since most people are right handed wouldn’t you want your dominate/stronger arm closer to your dog making it easier to give a quick heel? You said you could go on all day, well maybe you should have cause I don’t fully understand why walking a dog on your left is correct. The only way I would say this is correct is in Europe, where you travel on the left hand side and all of my problems above would be solved. In fact this is where most if not all of the dog training standards came from, correct? I look forward to your response.

rockncher said...

you said heel work is always done on the left side of the dog. But that is MY right side.. did you mean left side of the person?

Sarah said...

This can become way more interesting than whether a door opens to the left or right! The left side was associated with the devil and witchcraft way back in the day; you can still find pieces of antique furniture with faux drawers on the left side due to this. Children were taught exclusively to write with their right hand, so when they were grown and hunted or did other activities with canine and equine companions they held guns, crops and supplies in their right hand and learned to handle animals in the left.

Also as dog showing became popular, dogs had to be on the "inside" of their handler to be shown, so the left side of their handler was always the side dogs would be on.

If you cannot handle your pooch effectively on the left hand side, don't worry about it, we've come a long ways since the tradition started. However if you plan to be in any organized competition your dog must be trained on the left.

Mary Kowalczyk said...

I am a professional dog trainer and I find that the people who argue with me over which side to walk their dogs are usually never going to be really proficient at dog trainig. They get hung up on that because they are used to doing things with their right hand and don't want to change. It is usually because they think they know more than they do and are not good students. Now there have been a few exeptions. I use a wheelchair that has the controls on the right like most power chairs. If the power controls are on the left it would be difficult if not impossible to walk the dog on the left but reasonable or not. The world is generally a right handed world. Also, hunters usually hold their guns in their right hands and that is why it started. Also, if you have a horse, usually walked on the right side, it would be much more practical to have a dog who walks on the left side.

I hate those classed that are taught by people who couldn't pass the basic class at my AKC club. We always use rubber mats and even our worst instructor would be better than that one and cheaper!

Debie said...

Thanks Mary, I agree 100 percent.Right now I am untraining a dog who was brow beaten into perfection. We are walking on my right side temporarily but soon when he no longer expects a correction every few steps we will be walking on the left.
I appreciate your input!

Anonymous said...

Wow, who knew there would be such a heated discussion about on which side to walk a dog?
I'm bucking tradition, and the puppy training class we're in, to teach my pup to walk on my right, simply because my lovely son, who has cerebral palsy, prefers to hold hands & walk on my left. Here's hoping I'm not judged too harshly by the doggy community for my unconventional choice.

Stacy Burns said...

Hi There,

I'm a new dog owner. I've read conflicting articles on whether or not it matters which side you walk your dog. However, I was hoping to train my dog to walk on my right side so I could jog on the multi-use (bicycle, rollerblade, jogging) path and have him run on the grass to my right. If I train him on the left, he'd be facing the on coming traffic.
In this case, isn't that more important? I mean, I'm not going to be holding guns in my right hand or opening too many doors.

Anonymous said...

This whole rant about which side you should walk your dog on is ridiculous. I am left handed and always train my dog to walk on my right side because it is easier for me. I have no problems opening doors with a dog because he is tethered to me and is trained to follow me through doors and not to enter first. The reason dogs are trained to walk on the left is because in the military the higher ranking officer always walks on the right, which would put the dog to the left of the handler. Mary almost had it right, people who argue over which side to walk their dogs are usually never going to be really proficient at dog training...so quit arguing about it and mind your own business. I walk my dog on the right, you walk yours on the left...who cares. Fyi, there is no requirement for the cgc or for service dogs to walk on one particular side, either side is allowed.