You may have noticed already that by changing where you are looking, your chest is already pointing to the intended path of the dog.
Here is a video of where my chest is pointing if my head is forward (unable to see my dog to my side or behind me).
And here is a video of where my chest is pointing if my head is to the side, watching the dog’s line.
See the difference? The pole at the center of your chest shows you where your dog is perceiving your chest to be pointing. Naturally, we know that our dogs want to be in front of our chest/where it is pointing. As you move your head from one position to the other, your chest also moves, which is information that your dog is paying attention to!
Paired with our eyes, we want the information being cued by our chest to be consistent and support what we want the dog to be doing.
You can practice these two variations yourself, but it is really more for demonstration sake.
When we talk about arms, we will refer to “dog side arm” and “non-dog-side arm”. As a general rule, getting specific about which arm you use during specific handling skills is about where your chest is pointing!
We will first practice your chest movements without the use of your arms.
Exercise 6: Eyes + Chest: Circle
The purpose of these exercises is to see how much handling can be done without the use of our arms. This is especially great for us, because as humans, we tend to use our arms uncontrollably. Oftentimes, handling maneuvers are explained in terms of “use this arm” or “do x with your left arm and y with your right arm”. In reality, our chest is more important, so if we take some time to focus on and control where our chest is pointing, I believe our arms will fall in line with our chest.
The first part of this exercise will feel familiar. It is exactly like “follow the line”, except it’s in a circle. Start at whatever pace you need to. The goal is that you can move in a circle without breaking connection with the line/looking up to find where you are.