No, actually I thought the circle thing was a no-no! Oliver just loved to spin around me in circles, kind of like zoomies on a leash. I knew I wasn't teaching him anything proper about walking on a leash, but it calmed him down enough to walk well, without pulling and trying to bounce off in that Havanese puppy way. He is great at walking on a leash now, to our benefit. The issue we have is he will bark at a biker, and I instinctively pull back, which makes him think I WANT him to be anxious, and then he lunges. So the trainer was trying to show me how to get him more concentrated on me than the stimulus he's reacting to. And there are treats involved, LOL. And Roxie ALSO loves the circle thing, so I was just letting her do it because she's having fun. So maybe it isn't a bad thing to do while leash training?
I need to figure out how to walk them both simultaneously when we get to that time! So those are all great points about figuring out which side. Oliver is a right side walker currently.
No, circling can be a good thing... though it depends on the dog. A FEW (very few, and they seem to be working breeds like Tervs and Mals) ramp up when circles, so you have to observe the dog, and make sure it’s going in the right direction emotionally.
Panda was not “reactive” to other dogs, necessarily, but just got over-excited seeing dogs or wild animals. That would make her try to charge at them. Whether you pull back or not, they can quickly hit the end of the leash doing that. And because she shows, harnesses aren’t a great option, as every bunch of mats removed due to a harness means coat lost. OTOH, I sure didn’t want her damaging her trachea! The thing I like about circle walking is that the pressure is much less, and it is on the side of the neck, not the throat. And I guess, coming from the horse world, “lunging” (exercising a horse, on a long “rope” (lunge line) is just a very easy concept for me.
The next step, beyond just letting them burn off steam running in circles, is to teach the dog that you are going to send them into a circle any time they start to react to something. You can slowly work your circle away from whatever is triggering them until they reach a distance where they can calm down. You have to teach them to circle when they are ramped up, but once they learn it, (and it took VERY few repetitions for Panda) they start easily into a circle when you initiate it. When they are circling, they CAN’T hurt their throat. (Though you can do this as easily with a harness as a collar)
I did not need to use treats or a clicker to teach circling to Panda. She caught on very easily. But other people have used treats and a clicker Or can use an oral marker of some kind, if you don’t want to deal with a clicker on top of everything else... my oral marker is a tongue click, again because it comes easily to me from work with horses. You can search “Fenzi circle walking” on YouTube for lots of examples of people using it, but I found this one very quickly, and from what you said, it sounds like this dog is doing the same sort of reacting lunging you describe with Oliver. So you can see how this person handled it: