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Training the Emergency U-Turn

By gapnsw.com.au
Adopting a greyhound and excited for some fun and healthy walks together?

In this article, we’ll teach a very helpful technique that your greyhound will love to learn - the emergency u-turn.


What is the emergency U-turn?

When used properly, it allows you to immediately turn around and head in the opposite direction when walking a dog.

This can help keep you and your dog safe and prevent potentially undesirable situations.

It’s a useful technique to help us have a great time when out and about!


When should the emergency u-turn be used?

The emergency U-turn is useful in situations where your dog might be heading towards an interaction that could be potentially dangerous or unpredictable.

As much as we as dog owners endeavor to do the right thing, there are individuals who may not always have their dog under effective control. When these situations arise, it's always good to have a technique to help get your dog out of danger.

How to Train the Emergency U-turn


Training Environment

Like with all new training techniques, it's always good to begin this in a distraction-free environment where your dog is comfortable.

For the emergency U-turn, we recommend practicing this in a backyard and not use the lead at all at first. During the first few training sessions, we should also have some treats on hand. Food such as barbecue chicken (yum!) or cheese (also pretty yum) is great to use because it carries a strong scent and is therefore more favorable to our amazing greyhounds.

Once we’ve got those treats on hand, go to the backyard or a quiet area in or near your house.

Initiating the Movement

Lure the dog to be beside you (using treats if necessary).

Next, walk a few steps with your dog and, with those treats in front of the dog's nose, perform a circle and turn around walking in the opposite direction. If you are holding the treats by your side, you'll have lured the dog along with you.

Rewarding

Once the dog's facing the opposite direction and walking with you, you can give them that treat.

Rinse and repeat those steps a few times. Once the dog's comfortable in performing that movement, we can start clipping the lead and repeating.

Adding a Verbal Cue

When the movement is fluid and the dog's really comfortable performing the U-turn, it’s a good idea to start using a verbal cue.

The reason we introduce the cue at this later stage is so it becomes relevant to the dog and we
we’re not just saying something arbitrarily.

Verbal cues are helpful for dogs to understand the link between the action and what we are vocalising. That’s why we want them to perform the movement before the vocal cue.

Frequently Asked Questions


What verbal signal is best to use? 

The verbal signal is up to the owner.

“Let’s go” is a great one to use. We recommend being consistent in the choice of words.


How long should I practice techniques like this?

For training activities, short and simple is best.

Practicing for a few minutes each day or a few minutes a couple times a week is really great!

When we’re starting out, we don't want to practice the emergency U-turn where there's plenty of distractions around. Distractions make it harder for the dog to be comfortable with learning the movement when there’s too much going on.


Can all greyhounds learn the emergency U-turn?

Yes, all greyhounds have the potential to learn the emergency U-turn.

Every dog is different, however. Some will pick it up quicker than others.


Are there any other redirection moves that are useful to know?

Yes, a similar technique to the emergency U-turn is training your dog to touch a target.

The designated target can be your hands, a toy or other object.

The objective of the technique is to have the dog touch the target with their nose based on a cue or command. Like the emergency U-turn, this technique allows the dog to focus on something else besides a potential distraction.


Is this move better than tugging the dog away?

Yes.

If there’s a potentially distracting or even dangerous situation in our path, tugging our dog along can be a little bit stressful. The act of tugging can be an undesirable experience itself.

For instance, If there's another dog that’s barking/lunging and we continue to walk or tug our dog along, that might increase the chance of our dog having a poor or escalated reaction.

By turning and heading in the opposite direction, we take your dog out of that situation entirely.

We remove the risk of that level of behavioral escalation, and you improve the bond that you have with our dogs because they understand that you are able to take them out of situations where they feel a little unsure.


Have More Questions for GAP NSW?

Great, we’d love to hear from you!

  • We’re here to support our adoptees and fosterers with all behaviour questions
  • We welcome enquiries, before and after adoption
  • We employ qualified staff who are here as a resource for our community

Please use our contact page with any questions.


PPS, don’t forget the BBQ chicken when you’re at the shops next.