When you teach a dog to pivot – either for heeling/left turns/180 left about turns, left finishes, utility gloves or articles, Fenzi Team Titles or whatever…your dog is expected to stay in heel position while you turn “on a spot”.  How hard can that be?

Kind of hard, actually, because people don’t normally turn on a spot.  And to do it correctly, your dog has to pull in sideways and move backwards – not always the easiest thing to accomplish.  If that doesn’t make sense, ask someone to “heel” you and you’ll see what I mean.

I’ve heard it said “stay on a dinner plate,” which is great advice.  Sadly, I’ve very carefully stayed on my dinner plate and then watched the video later.  Never seen a dinner plate THAT big before.  And it felt so correct at the time.

I teach dogs to pivot on a disc – that’s the first step but if you think about it, by virtue of walking around the disc you are not on a dinner plate – the dog is.  So when you take that disc away, you have to be conscious of holding your spot.  Try putting some masking tape on the floor and staying on it to help you learn how to pivot in a spot. Or hop up on that pivot disc yourself – that works too.

I also use a hand target over the dog’s head if they understand targets – it eases the transition from pivot disc to pivoting on the ground.

Here’s Raika working on her pivots.  First watch it casually – am I staying in one spot?  Next, place your curser on my feet and watch it again.  Not so much, really.

Videos are awesome.  Simply being aware of what I’m doing makes it very likely that I’ll do better next time.  With better handling and some practice, Raika will soon be doing perfect left pivots.  Then I’ll drop the hand help and go from there.  She needs this for her TEAM2 title – so I’d like to get it just right!