While it may sound like driving a car, teaching your dog the u-turn can save both of you a lot of aggravation or worse.
The idea of the u-turn is to have your dog turn in whichever direction you want to go without having to yank on the leash. Knowing the command to u-turn becomes very handy when trouble might lie ahead – for example, another dog approaching.
You’ve already taught your dog to walk at heel and the signal you use to have him/her look at you on command. However, the “look at me” doesn’t always work when your dog is becoming excited or you are face to face with a situation.
If your dog does not know how to walk at heel, don’t let him/her get too far ahead (a body length is enough) so that there is no pulling on the leash.
Before beginning training, be prepared. Have some favorite treats or toys handy. Choose a word that will be used only for the u-turn command. I’ve made mine simple and use the word “turn.” Now you’re ready to begin.
Take your dog for a walk at heel where there will be no distractions, preferably a quiet area. Using your turn word in a happy excited voice will encourage your dog to follow willingly. Offer a treat and praise as your dog follows your lead.
Practice until your dog understands the turn. Then gradually add distractions. It can be a person s/he knows seen from several yards away, then sniffing at an interesting spot, a truck or motorcycle, children and so on.
When your dog responds well in these circumstances, you can add another dog from a distance away. Mix it up, a dog pal, then a strange dog.
Keep practicing each time you walk your dog so that if a problem crops up, you and your dog are prepared.