Rally Pivots Classroom

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Visualization of the skill –

With the dog in heel position, the dog should react to any movement or weight shift by the handler. During a pivot, the handler turns either to the right or left while remaining in place. The dog moves with the handler not varying heel position and sits as the handler stops moving. Ideally the dog will remain attentive throughout the entire turn.

Footwork

A pivot done correctly is performed in place.

When doing a pivot, keep in mind;

  • All turns consist of 3 steps.
  • Always start with the opposite foot so if you are going to the left, start with the right foot or if you are going to the right, start with the left foot.
  • Use a small circle the size of a small dish to make sure that the pivot remains in place.
  • When pivoting for Rally signs, as you take the second step of the pivot, look and line up to the next sign. Place your foot so that you and the dog will be lined up with the sign when the pivot is finished.

Left pivots (your dog will need to know how to move backwards). Shift your weight to your left leg (dog will learn that this shift indicates the direction turning). Move right foot perpendicular to and place against the left toe. (Similar to T-step, see 180 degree pivot.) Place left heel against the right heel making sure to point your left foot in the direction you will be going or sending the dog. Bring right foot up against the left foot.

Right pivots are done just the opposite of the left pivot. Shift your weight to your right leg, move left foot perpendicular to and place against the right toe. (Similar to T-step, see 180 degree pivot.) Place right heel against the left heel making sure to point your right foot in the direction you will be going or sending the dog. Bring left foot up against the 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 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 heel of left foot against heel of right foot and point your left foot in the direction you will be going or sending the dog. Bring right foot up to 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 weight to your right leg so you can move your left foot to make the “T” step by placing the ball of your left foot against toe of your right foot. Place heel of right foot against heel of left foot and point your right foot in the direction you will be going or sending the dog. Bring left foot up to right foot.

 

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Teaching the Pivot

Before teaching the pivot your dog should know how to move in heel position both forward and backward, be attentive to handler during the pivot, and know a tuck sit.

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

Level 1:

Have the dog standing in heel position. Initially, do not move your feet; instead, practice the weight shift teaching the dog to start movement on the 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 the right hand. Have the palm of your hand flat, hand on the backside of the leash so that you can use a forward reining action to help the 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 the right hand. Have the palm of your hand flat, 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 weight shift, 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 (cookie magnet). While standing, weight shift 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 for movement.

 

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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 the dog BEFORE adding your dog.)

Right pivot: Have dog standing on your left side 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, hand on the backside of the leash so that you can use a forward reining action to help the dog understand that he is to move with you in a clockwise direction as you weight shift 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 the dog is looking up and watching you at all times when making the turn. Reward the dog up to a treat (keep the dog energized). Play and interact with the dog before trying the repetition again. As the dog gets more proficient on the turn, move the RIGHT foot so that it is aligned with the left to complete the turn.

Problem solving: If you are having a difficult time with the dog keeping the head up, hold a large visible treat in the RIGHT hand with the hand positioned at the left shoulder for a medium/large dog or at the elbow for a small/toy dog. Make sure the dog is focused on the treat as the handler turns and then releases the dog up to the reward.

Left pivot: Have dog standing on your left side 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, 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 turn, 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 the dog up to a treat (you want to keep the dog energized). Make sure the dog is looking up and watching you at all times when making the turn. Release the dog up to a treat in heel position. Play and interact with the dog before trying the repetition again.

Problem solving:

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

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 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 left foot.

 

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Now that you have the movement on the weight shift and your dog will move either to the right or left confidently, start your dog on a sit and add a sit after the pivot.

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Combining Skills
When all skills have been perfected individually (pivot, sits and heeling), start combining the skills. Release and reward with Heeling Games Keep all skills perfected by periodically reviewing foundations.

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Points to Remember

  • All turns consist of 3 steps.
  • Always start with the opposite foot so your dog will see the weight shift.
  • Pivot in place.
  • Look where you are turning 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”. The 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, or between or next to people.
  • Start to pivot and abruptly stop. Will your dog stay in heel position and sit.

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.

Questions? Click to Email

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