Pivots Classroom

 

In the sport of Obedience, pivots with your dog are generally preformed for the article and glove exercises.

In the sport of Rally, pivots occur in a number of signs that can be performed during a run.

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PDF Files to help your training!
Problem Solving PDF
Training Log PDF
Points to Remember PDF

Visualization
With your dog at your side or in heel position, he should react to any movement or weight shift by you. During a pivot, you will turn either to the right or left while remaining in place. Your dog will move with you not varying out of position and sits as you stop moving. Ideally your dog will remain attentive throughout the entire turn.

STEPS TO SUCCESS
Before you begin check out and have ready any equipment you may need for the class

Pivot Footwork

When doing a pivot, keep in mind;

  • All pivots consist of 3 steps.
  • A pivot done correctly is performed in place.
  • Always start with the opposite foot so if you are going to pivot to the left start with your right foot or if you are going to the right, start with the left foot. Your foot work remains the same if your dog is on your right.
  • Use a small circle the size of a small dish to make sure that your pivot remains in place. A small paper plate works well for practicing your footwork
  • When pivoting to gloves or articles, as you take the second step of the pivot, look at the glove or articles and place your foot so that you and the dog will be lined up with the item when the pivot is finished.
  • When pivoting for startline stays or nosework line ups, as you take your second step, look at the obstacle or the entry cones so that your dog is lined up with them.

Left pivots (your dog needs to know how to move backwards). Shift your weight to your left leg (your dog will learn that this shift indicates the direction turn). Move your right foot perpendicular to your left foot and place it against your left toe. (Similar to T-step.). Place your left heel against your right heel making sure to point your left foot in the direction that you will be going or sending your dog. Bring your right foot up against and even with your left foot.

Right pivots are done just the opposite of the left pivot footwork. Shift your weight to your right leg, move left foot perpendicular to your right foot and place your left foot against your right toe. (Similar to T-step). Place your right heel against your left heel making sure to point your right foot in the direction that you will be going or sending your dog. Bring your left foot up against your right foot.

180 degree pivot to the left (your dog will need to know how to move backwards). Use a “T” step. As in other pivots, shift your weight to your left leg so you can move your right foot to make the “T” step by placing the ball of your right foot against toe of your left foot. Place the heel of your left foot against the heel of your right foot and point your left foot in the direction you will be going or sending your dog. Bring your right foot up to your left foot.

180 degree pivot to the right is the opposite of the 180 pivot to left. Use a “T” step. As in other pivots, shift your weight to your right leg so that you can move your left foot to make the “T” step by placing the ball of your left foot against the toe of your right foot. Place the heel of your right foot against the heel of your left foot and point your right foot in the direction you will be going or sending the dog. Bring your left foot up to your right foot.

End Goal – For your dog to move with you as you pivot to the right, left or an about turn. While pivoting, your dog maintains focus and animation and then sits promptly as you stop.

Teaching the Pivot

Before teaching the pivot to your dog, he should know how to move next to you or in heel position both forward and backward. You dog needs be attentive to you during the entire pivot, and know how to sit beside you, a tuck sit, when you complete the pivot.

Keep sits out of the pivot until your dog is moving easily with you both forward and backward. Only add sits once your dog is confidently moving with you.

Level 1:

Have your dog standing next to you or in heel position. Initially, do not move your feet. instead, practice just shifting your weight so that you teach your dog to start his movement on your weight shift.

For moving to the right, have your hand low on the leash close to the snap hook and the leash taut. Extra leash can be held in your right hand. Have the palm of your hand flat, and your hand on the backside of the leash so that you can use a forward reining action to help your dog understand that he is to move with you

For moving to the left, have your hand low on the leash close to the snap hook and the leash taut. Extra leash can be held in your right hand. Have the palm of your hand flat, with your hand on the front side of the leash so that you are reining back and slightly towards your body as you make the turn. AS you shift your weight, apply tension back and slightly towards your body with the leash. Reward your dog upward for any movement.

NOTE: if your dog doesn’t move on leash pressure, use a lure (a cookie or toy). While standing, shift your weight and move the cookie forward if moving to the right and backward if moving to the left. Keep the cookie close to your body. Reward your dog for any movement.

Level 2:

Once your dog is confidently moving on your weight shift, it is time to work on the turn. (Make sure you have worked on your footwork without your dog BEFORE adding your dog.)

Right pivot: Have your dog standing on your left side or in heel position. Have your hand low on the leash close to the snap hook and the leash taut. Extra leash can be held in the right hand. Have the palm of your hand flat, with your hand on the backside of the leash. This enables you to use a forward reining action to help your dog understand that he is to move with you in a clockwise direction as you shift your weight to your right leg and turn your head and shoulders to the right. Your left foot will turn to the right so that it makes an angled T-step with your right foot. Make sure that your dog is looking up and watching you at all times when making the turn. Reward your dog up to a treat or toy (keep the dog energized). Play and interact with t your dog before trying the pivot again. As your dog gets more proficient on the turn, move your RIGHT foot so that it is aligned with your left foot to complete the turn.

Left pivot: Have your dog standing on your left side or in heel position. Have your hand low on the leash close to the snap hook with the leash taut. Extra leash can be held in the right hand. Have the palm of your hand flat on the front side of the leash so that you are reining back and slightly towards your body as you make the turn. When you are ready to start the pivot, shift your weight to your left leg, look to the left, turn your right foot to make an angled T-step with your left foot which in turn will turn your shoulders to the left. As you are doing this, rein back and slightly towards your body to help your dog rotate his rear counter-clockwise to maintain heel position. Reward your dog up to a treat (you want to keep the dog energized). Make sure that your dog is looking up and watching you at all times when making the turn. Release your dog up to a treat in heel position. Play and interact with your dog before trying the pivot again.

180 degree pivot to the right. Hold your leash the same as in the right pivot. With your dog on your left side, shift your weight to your RIGHT leg. Slightly turn your head and shoulders to the right as you bring your LEFT foot to a T in front of your right foot. Turn your right foot so that the heel of the right foot is touching the heel of the left foot. As you do this, your eyes will run down the side of your body and your head will then look in the new direction. Turn your left foot so that it is even with your right foot.

180 degree pivot to the left: Hold your leash the same as in the left pivot. With your dog on your left side, shift your weight to your LEFT leg. Slightly turn your head and shoulders to the left as you bring your RIGHT foot to a T in front of your left foot. Turn your left foot so that the heel of the left foot is touching the heel of the right foot. As you do this, your eyes will run down the side of your body and your head will then look in the new direction. Turn your right foot so that it is even with your left foot.


 
 
Problem solving:

  • If you are having a difficult time with your dog keeping his head up, hold a large visible treat in your RIGHT hand with your hand positioned at your left shoulder for a medium/large dog or at your left elbow for a small/toy dog. Make sure that your dog is focused on the treat as you turn. Then release your the dog up to the reward.
  • If your dog is not properly rotating his rear end, hold the leash behind your rear/back so that the leash is about the height of your dog’s neck. Use your right hand to rein forward to help your dog move his rear and maintain heel position.

Level 3:

Now that your dog is moving on your weight shift and your dog will move either to the right or left confidently, start your dog in a sit and add a sit after the pivot. Also begin working on pivots with your dog on your right side.


 
Points to Remember

  • All turns consist of 3 steps.
  • Always start with the opposite foot so your dog will see your weight shift.
  • Pivot in place.
  • Look where you are turning or will be going to BEFORE the last step.
  • Maintain your dog’s attention throughout the pivot.
 
Proofing

The following are some proofing ideas from “Success is in the Proofing”. This book covers the how to’s and why’s of proofing for all levels from Novice to Utility.

Here are a few ideas;

  • Practice pivots near distractions such as a chair, lightly colored signs, between or next to people, near the Dogwalk, cones, etc.
  • Start to pivot and abruptly stop. Does your dog stay in heel position and sit or stay with you?

Note: if your dog makes a mistake, mark the error and show your dog how to be correct. Start with easy proofing and gradually add difficulty as your dog becomes a STAR.

Before progressing to your next class –

Start to move when you weight shift?
Move with you with focus?
Sit promptly as you stop?

PDF Files to help your training!
Problem Solving PDF
Training Log PDF
Points to Remember PDF

Enjoy teaching pivots to your dog!

Questions? Click to Email


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