When you can guide your dog in a circle in one direction, the obvious thing to try is a circle in the other direction! And if you put the two circles together, what you get is a figure 8.
Those of you with smaller dogs may well be able to do this while still seated. Some of you with medium sized dogs with small turning radii may be able to remain sitting. Everyone else, it's going to take standing up.
Doing a Figure 8 means that the dog has to notice the shift in the direction of the leash pressure. If you try it a couple times and your dog just doesn't notice, you can help by applying a chick's heart worth of finger vibration to the leash just *before* you change the direction of the pressure.
Those of you who ride may recognize this as being somewhat like a very baby version of a half-halt, which is done just before a gait transition to temporarily "bottle up" the horse's energy, compress their body and allow them to make a smooth transition. With dogs, I'm pretty much assuming they are continuing to move forward, so the leash vibration is just the hands part of the half-halt.
The key to doing this, as always, is to keep soft, active hands, so that you control the amount of pressure you put on the leash. Your dog really is capable of detecting and responding appropriately to nearly imperceptible signals if you make it clear that response pays off well.
If I happen to miss a question, don't be shy about asking again! I'm a ditz with the computer at the best of times and there's also the mysterious sometimes problem of delivery we've been experiencing.
M. Shirley Chong
Grinnell Iowa USA
Wednesday, February 13, 2008 2:49 am