Dogs on the left                                                                   Horses on the right

The beginning of every dog training starts with directing the pet parent to keep their dog on the left. Additionally, the leash is controlled by the left hand leaving the right hand available if needed. This does not only apply to walking at heel.

When teaching a puppy to sit, it’s easier to have the puppy on your left so that you can place your right hand on his chest and then gently apply pressure while lightly placing the forefinger of your left hand on the lower center portion of your puppy’s back. I call it the “sit button” and it’s easily located if you imagine a line across your puppy’s back between the front of your puppy’s thighs.


Most pet parents are right-handed and will ask for an explanation as to why their dog should be on the left and assume that it’s my way of training. I assure you I had nothing to do with the left side placement of a dog at heel.

Research will turn up many reasons as to why a dog is kept on the left of a person and some are nonsensical. It does not give you more authority over your dog. Alpha dogs do not have their pack on the right of them. So let me clear this up.

There are two main reasons for walking a dog on the left side. The first may seem outdated and not necessarily applicable to today. Of course, there are exceptions. One reason for dogs on the left originated when weapons like swords were carried on the right, making it necessary, safer, and more advantageous to keep a dog on the left. Soldiers and police officers usually carry a weapon on the right, therefore, keeping their K9 partner on the left.


Moving forward in time, the second reason is more applicable to the United States where facing oncoming traffic, is an established practice. A dog should always be on the left side of his pet parent so that he is not on the side of oncoming traffic.

Being physically challenged may require a person to use their right hand, which more likely than not, their dominant hand. They may need to implement a walking stick, cane, or wheelchair, for example, making it necessary to keep their service dog on the left. My observation yielded the most obvious of reasons which is that most people are right-handed and therefore need the freedom of their right hand to do other things. Think cell phone, keys, flashlight, or packages.

I realize that you may consider neither of these reasons beneficial and appropriate for your lifestyle. However, I do believe that certain instituted practices that are the foundation of dog training should remain in place. My reason is based on the fact that unfortunately, a too high percentage of dogs do not have a forever home. Even if pet parents intend to provide a loving family home, unpredictable circumstances may prevail, resulting in having to rehome a beloved dog. More often than not, there are times when a dog may have to be boarded or cared for by a dog walker or dog sitter. Maintaining familiar routines will be more comforting to a dog who is at times, not able to be with their pet parent. The same basic training protocol applies to language and commands as well.

For those of you who may be wondering why a horse is on the right, before a rider mounts, it probably goes back once again to the sword or weapon of choice. If the weapon is on the right, which most likely would be the case, the rider has to place their left foot in the stirrup and swing their right foot over the horse.




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