This is a useful thing to teach a dog regardless of what sport you are part of.
In sledding, scootering, bike-joring etc turns are usually referred to as gee and haw.
In agility and I think Rally-O, most people say right or left. 🙂 why….who knows…just do whatever works for you. 🙂 I have no idea what terminology is used in Canine freestyle but I assume that most want to use gestures in that sport anyways, make it more “dance-like”.
So how does one teach a turn?
Several different methods
1. Teach the dog to spin or turn on command. Spin being counter-clockwise, turn being clockwise. Do this using a lure or your hand or whatever just to get the dog to move. use the lure no more than 3-4 times, you want your dog to think about what it is doing, not just following the lure.
2. one lady says that she teaches it this way:
I start with the dog on my side and have them do a 180 to face the other direction. Hard to describe when not in person, but it goes something like this: Dog is on my right. I have a treat in my left hand. I gesture to the dog to turn away from me (to his right). I turn the same way and then reward him with the treat in my left hand (now the hand that is closest to him). After a while I will name it “Right.” I always reward the dog on my side and not facing me. Do the same for the other side.
3. Teach using daily life experiences: i.e. when turning a corner, say “right” or “left” depending on which way you are turning. When throwing a toy, toss it right or left and give the dog the directive to follow it.
4. some people, especially agility folks, uses their arms only to signal changes. Using the on-side arm can signal a flip (turn just a bit here), whereas using the off-side arm can signal a complete change in direction.
If you have any additional ideas, please let me know. 🙂