Dogs trained to switch for left-handed walkers

Garry Lee retrains greyhound Ella at Dogs Trust West Calder. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Garry Lee retrains greyhound Ella at Dogs Trust West Calder. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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DOGS are being specially trained to cater for left-handed owners in a pioneering scheme in the Lothians.

Dogs Trust in West Calder has developed a technique which solves the problem of pooches pulling to the right and entangling their leftie masters in the leads while on long walks.

It has been so successful that it is now set to be rolled out to the charity’s homing centres across the country.

More than one in ten dogs at the Lothian centre are 
currently going through the training, which involves “re-programming” the canine brain from its natural instinct to run on the right. The training is continuing throughout April, full-time at the centre.

Charlotte Speedy, a Dogs Trust spokeswoman, said the catalyst had been the introduction of little-known EU anti-discrimination legislation which would eventually dictate that 11 per cent of all dogs available for rehoming should be trained for left-handed owners.

She said: “Dogs Trust are fortunate to have such talented trainers and behaviourists at our disposal who were able to work with our dogs to help prepare them for the requirements of their intended left-handed owners.”

More than 300 canines have already been identified for rehoming with lefties, but Ms Speedy said the training could easily be reversed if only right-handed owners could be found.

Based on a method of training Huskies to stop veering off course in the Arctic, the technique, known as Polar Foil, has never before been used to train domestic animals, but could become more popular due to the EU law.

Campaigners have argued for years for a review of consumer legislation, citing the lack of left-handed products on supermarket shelves.

Lorraine Murtagh, who runs Edinburgh dog walking company Waggy Walks, said: “Quite a few of my clients are left-handed and they struggle to walk their dogs using their weaker right hand which is why they often hire me.

“Collars and leads are designed for right-handed people only and that’s 
discriminatory.”