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Monday, January 9,2023

On the Left, Please

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  
Met our lovely new neighbors with a darling terrier. They recently relocated from out of state. I offered to show them our secret park – Boca Del Mar has a few of these. Hidden from street view, they are nestled behind several developments. Ours has a large lake, a bridge and an abundance of ibises, ducks, herons, egrets and iguanas. We’ve seen an occasional otter or wood stork wading.

I grabbed my dog-walking bag and leashed two of my rescued dogs. The dogs met on neutral territory and off we went. I placed both of my dogs on my left. The peppy terrier was all over the place. Right, left, up, down, front, behind! More than a few times his lead encircled her legs. She almost tripped. I gently asked, “Why don’t you walk him on the left?” “He just enjoys walking where he wants,” she responded. Fortunately, my eyerolling reaction was cloaked behind my visor and sunglasses.

• Young children enjoy eating candy/junk food. Is consuming that daily going to result in building healthy teeth, bodies and minds?

• Kids (especially teens) don’t enjoy doing chores, homework, keeping their rooms picked up, or being told what to do. Without boundaries and duties they most likely won’t evolve into happy, healthy, self-sufficient, welladjusted adults.

• Most adults would probably enjoy not having to pay bills. How will that affect your credit score and lifestyle? Significantly – when the power gets cut and you are evicted from your home.

The three dogs’ leashes got entangled, more than once. The terrier almost tripped me. It was not as enjoyable a walk as it could have been. We haven’t accompanied them since then. No one wants to chance twisting an ankle, breaking a bone or losing their front teeth.

Days later, we ran into another park pal with a precious new pup. As she approached us, the puppy was all over the place: side to side, front, back, right and left. She almost lost her footing a few times. There’s no better time to get a dog USED to being on the left than when they are a puppy.

WHY are dogs walked on the left?

This practice is rooted in tradition, and actually makes a lot of sense.

Early domesticated dogs were used to aid hunters in flushing out/locating prey. The hunter carried/ discharged his weapon with his dominant hand, so the dog was positioned on the left. Only 11% of us are lefthanded, majority rules.

Police and guide dogs are trained to heel on the left. In the show ring, dogs are on the left. Obedience and rally competitions, dog on left. Police and guide dogs are trained on the left. Freestyle and agility training is from the left, but the dog must learn to use both sides, depending upon the routine/commands. I know a lefthanded police officer whose K9 was specifically trained on the right. Only he can handle that K9.

Dogs (and children) rely on us for leadership and guidance. Doing what they want, when they want doesn’t instill healthy, safe behaviors. It’s never too late to adapt to the practice of having your dog on left, for the safety of you/your dog, and whoever else is walking with you.


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