I have somewhat taught my border collie to do a lot of things, from Bang, Sit, Lay Down, Hug, Shake, Shake Fur, and even hold his tail in his mouth as he runs around in circles (very funny) (kinda taught himself to be honest) but I can't seem to teach him left and right.

I started by simply saying 'Right' instead of 'Shake', as he usually shook with his right paw, and then started using my right hand facing him, and saying 'left' instead of shake, and he started choosing his left paw when I said left, and right paw when saying right.

He still tends to always forget it, and can sometimes do the exact opposite of what I ask. I heard border collies are very intelligent and I do believe so, but it would be quite amazing if I could teach my pup to be able to walk left and right, shake left and right, and other such directional tricks. Also I have trouble teaching him how to speak.

1 Answer 1


You definitely can teach a dog to turn left or right on command. In fact, professional shepherds and dog sledders do this to control their dogs.

The problem I see here is that you want to teach your dog the concept of a "left thing" and a "right thing". You want him to understand "left paw", "turn left" and "walk on my left side". I don't know whether this is impossible, but it's at least much more complicated.

See, you taught him

When I say "Shake" and you put any of your paws into my hand, you get a reward.

And your dog learned the command "shake".
Now you try teaching him

When I say "Right" and you put your paw into my hand, you get a reward, but only if you put this paw into my hand, not the other one.

Your dog certainly can learn this, but to him "right" would mean no more than a specific paw. He still wouldn't understand the concept of "right" as a direction.

In my opinion, you need a unique command for any unique action. "Lift your left paw" is something completely different to "walk on my left side" and you should not confuse your dog by using the same command and expecting different things.

And you should make your commands sound as different as possible. A dog cannot hear the tiny differences in our language, so "right" and "night" sound like the same word to him. You can differentiate commands by pitch and emphasis, like "RRRight" and "nIGHT", though.

  • Okay, so I should say something along the lines of "Right Hand" and leave shake as shake or as paw? Commented May 10, 2019 at 14:50
  • He seems to be getting better at seeing the difference in Shake and Right/Left anyways, he just tends to forget sometimes. Commented May 10, 2019 at 14:50
  • @TaylorSpark You can use "Right hand" to shake his right paw, but I doubt you can then use "right hand" as well to have him walk at your right side. If it's possible (not sure about that) it certainly takes a long time to teach him. Better start with easy things and up the ante progressively.
    – Elmy
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 15:46
  • Well as for walking at my right side? Well thatll be a jump for future progress, right now I just want to let him understand that right and left are separate directions. Commented May 10, 2019 at 19:08

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