Guide Dog Class Lecture: Working with Rounded Corners
Unlike a squared-off corner, a rounded corner subtly turns to join the intersecting sidewalk. For instance, a sidewalk that runs north or south gently curves as it approaches the intersecting street, and rounds its line of travel onto the sidewalk running east and west.
Special Considerations When Working Rounded Corners
- The Curb Approach
- Curb-to-Curb Turns
- Street Crossing and Position at Up Curb
- Optimal Halt Positions
Let’s start with the Curb Approach
A critical element to working this type of area is gaining a curb approach that gives proper alignment for street crossings. How is the curb approach different than a squared-off corner? As you approach the intersection you will feel your dog begin to follow the curve of the sidewalk around the corner. At this point, allow your dog to follow the curve of the sidewalk for a few steps. Then, without stopping, have your dog hopp-up to the curb. At the same time you give this verbal cue, gesture towards the down curb and your original line of travel. By traveling slightly around the corner and then directing your dog to the down curb, you will be better aligned for a safe crossing. When you get there, praise and reward your dog.
The number of steps taken around the corner may vary. Your length of stride, the degree to which the corner is rounded, and how quickly you notice the start of the curve will all influence when you make your move to the down curb.
Think about how far you’ve rounded the corner. If you travel too far around the corner, you may end up ready to cross into or behind idling cars that are stopped at the intersection. Parked cars along the curb edge may also block your entrance into or out of the street. It also puts you too far into the block where drivers turning onto that street may not see you. On the other hand, if you approach the down curb on a straight line, not rounding the corner at all, you will be set up to cross the street very close to parallel traffic. Also, your dog may have a hard time orienting to your intended up curb and could miss it altogether. Using food reward when reaching these up curbs will strengthen your dog’s desire to seek them out.
At times, you may notice that your dog tries to hold a straight line to the down curb. Your dog is likely anticipating the crossing. Still, for the safest crossing and to avoid inadvertently stepping off the curb, encourage your dog to round the corner slightly. During the crossings, dogs may need to angle their line in order to target the sidewalk on their original line of travel.
How About Curb To Curb Turns
Once at the down curb, if your intention is to cross your parallel street, you will need to make a curb-to-curb turn. To align for this upcoming street crossing, during the turn you will travel back around the corner, from the direction you just came before coming to your down curb. Applying both praise and food reward after curb-to-curb turns is a good idea.
Now, the Street Crossing and Position at the Up Curb
After listening to traffic to both confirm your alignment and determine the optimal time to leave the down curb, cross as normal. When you reach the up curb you may be positioned slightly into the block. This means that as you cue your dog 'forward' onto the sidewalk, your dog may need to adjust your line a bit to pick up the original line of travel.
Lastly, Optimal Halt Positions
Depending on what type of turn you make after the crossing, the halt position may vary. To prepare for a turn to the down curb (to do a second crossing at that intersection) work several steps forward from the up curb before halting. Travel far enough to feel your dog pick up the original line of travel. At that point halt your dog. A formal turn to the down curb will now give you good alignment for a crossing. To prepare for a turn away from the parallel street (to walk up the intersecting sidewalk), you can halt sooner. From there, you can easily make a formal turn in the new direction.
You can stream the audio of the class lecture here, via a Soundcloud widget. If using a screen reader, please select the "Play" option below.