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Our 6 year old shepherd-rottie rescue is a pretty well behaved dog. He's got some minor idiosyncrasies from what appears to have been an abusive first home, but he understands his role in our house and very much likes to have a "job". His heel and loose leash walking are very good, and he loves to go backcountry hiking with me, where I don't bother with a leash.

The problem is, he's a fairly large dog (100 lbs), and I'm a decent sized guy, which makes the two of us take up most of a trail when walking abreast, especially if he has his pack on. When we encounter other hikers, especially those with dogs that look less well behaved, it's a bit awkward trying to narrow our "footprint".

It would be helpful to be able to teach him a command that lets him know I want him to line up single file rather than on my left heel. Any suggestions for how to teach a dog a second relative walking position that I can switch him to when the situation calls for it? This wouldn't be often in the backcountry, but it happens frequently (every several minutes) when we're day hiking closer to home.
 

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This is something I plan to teach my future dogs, since they'll almost certainly be bigger than my current travel-size girl (who is ~30lbs). I plan to teach it just like I do any variant of "heel" position. My girl has a different word for her 3 "heel" positions: right-side(au pied), left-side(heel), and between the legs(benen).

How did you teach your "regular" heel? Teaching a single file/follow position is probably most easily taught with targeting (maybe sticking something to your back pocket, or even just using your palm to start).

I cannot remember the name of it, but there is a forum for people who hike the Appalachian Trail, and there's a sub-forum for dog-hikers. Many (if not all) people who hike the AT with their dogs teach a "single file" type behavior for passing on the narrower trails. That would probably be a good place to ask! I think there's also a hiking-with-your-dog group on Facebook, but I cannot remember the name of that off the top of my head, either. (sorry!)
 

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When I bike the dogs, I sometimes will wave them behind the bike, rather than beside it if a car looks like it's going to pass close to us. They already knew that me putting my hand out on "their side" means to slow down, usually because I'm turning in that direction, so I just use that, then cut over in front of them. They figured it out pretty quickly. You could probably do similarly on foot, or if you want to teach as a distinct command rather than something you just "do", targeting is probably the way to go. I might train it as targeting a hand behind your back, then mark and reward that position (behind you), but still use the hand target as a reward/end game to keep his focus under distraction.
 
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