This is a command that could be useful in some circumstances. As to when it would be useful… you can decide. Either way it is a great example of luring a behaviour, as described in the sit command lesson.
Prepare your treats, your clicker, your dog and yourself. This one may take a few more sessions. Chicken roll cut into inch square slices is good for this as it fits nicely between the fingers where your dog can’t snatch it. A good method you could use is to put a slice between the index and forefinger of your left hand. Don’t let any be visible toward the top of your hand but allow the rest to be exposed towards your palm. After clicking you will turn your hand round revealing to your dog the treat between your fingers and allow them to take it.
You can see in the first photo a poor attempt at luring the dog into the behaviour. The trainer’s hand is no where near the dog’s nose. He is simply turning of his own accord thinking it is correct. He will not get a click or treat for this one! The second photo shows a good twist behaviour. The dog’s nose is following the smell of the treat in the trainer’s hand, moving in the exact way the trainer wants.
It is important to note that you should have treats in one of your hands ready to dispense each time you click or to reload your luring hand. It may be easiest to hold some treats in the same hand as your clicker, so your spare hand can be the feeding or luring hand.
Present the back of your hand to your dog and let him smell your fingers so they know you have something for them. Let them follow your hand closely as you lead them in a circle across the front of you, away to the right and round to the left, bringing them around so they are once again in front of you and facing you to your left side. As your dog follows your hand, which should be at the same level as his nose, they’ll get to a point where they twist their body round to follow your hand back towards your side. Click as they do – this marks the behaviour of turning to their left in a circle. After clicking immediately turn your hand to let them take the treat from between your fingers in your palm.
Eventually this behaviour can be initiated with a verbal ‘twist’ command, or whatever command you like. Twist just seems to fit the movement nicely. After your dog becomes happy with this movement and the verbal command you give, you can begin to use a hand gesture (move your hand round in an anti-clockwise circle in front of you). In time you will be able to replace the word with just a swish of the finger in the desired direction.
The ‘spin’ command can be used in exactly the same way to get your dog turning to the right on your other side. Again, use whatever command you want to but make it sound different from the first one and make sure your arm or hand clearly goes in the opposite direction.