You might think I'm kidding, but I'm really not. Now, I wouldn't expect anyone to become totally equal in their abilities to use each hand, but being better at it can sure help!
Being timely, and rewarding in the proper area is very important to dog training. In agility, we really don't want to be reaching across are bodies with our right hand to reward a dog on the left, and visa versa. Why? You are encouraging your dogs rear end to swing out, and you are no longer facing in the same direction. It's just not good placement of reward.
Same for tugging rewards. You want to when possible to reward at your side, facing the direction in which you're going. Now, I'm not saying you can never reward in front, but think about the game of agility, you are 'generally' heading in the same direction, side by side. It's a bit hard to run a course if the dog is facing you in front. So, by becoming more ambidextrous, you can successfully tug on both sides of your body.
Good news for right handed obedience trainers!! You are likely pretty good at delivering food rewards with your left hand. Sorry Lefties....you might not be as proficient on the right, since the majority of obedience work is left oriented. Reminds me of the days when dogs only weaved on the left! Yes, it's true!!
Ambidexterity is a skill we all can improve at. It would be nice to be able to deliver, tug, throw, (okay, so I know a couple people that can throw with their dominate hand!!) rewards of all kinds with equal accuracy. Luckily, it's not hard to do!!
Each day while you're doing a task, simply switch hands! Unscrew a lid, wash the dishes, unload the dryer, etc. At first you'll need to think about what you're doing, but it can seriously become a natural habit. EAT with your non-dominate hand! Trust me, almost all my friends are borderline 'food aggressive', you WON'T STARVE! I promise!! It's a great way to improve your dexterity for your 'off hand'.
Another great benefit is if you ever have an unexpected accident, like your horse steps in a hole and you both take a tumble into a ditch, you'll be able to eat with no worries!! Lucky for me I'd already been practicing!! I would bet wrist fractures are up there as the most common! Be prepared!
Play kids games, horse shoes (okay, maybe not), bean bag toss, Pictionary, "Operation" is a blast using your off hand!! Deal cards, make coffee, put toast in the toaster, slide your credit card! There are so many things we do everyday without even thinking about it, it's clumsy at first, but you'll be surprise how quickly you become good at it.
An Open Letter to My Students
2 months ago