How to Teach Your Dog to Pivotby Kea Grace
A proper "flip finish" requires a pivot.
Pivoting, a flashy skill commonly seen in the canine sports of freestyle, obedience, rally and agility, requires your dog to change directions by moving his rear end and keeping his front feet in place. Not only does pivoting teach superb hind-end awareness, it allows a fast-moving pooch to switch positions on a dime. Teaching this skill requires patience and a bit of time, but every dog is capable of learning pivots.
Place a rubber-bottomed metal food bowl upside down in the middle of a clear space. Using treats, lure or shape your dog onto the dish with his front feet. Reward your pup for first sniffing the bowl, touching it with a paw, placing one paw on it, and then finally, placing both front feet on the bowl. Continue practicing until your dog readily and confidently stands with both front feet on the bowl and waits for a reward.
Hold a treat about 8 inches in front of your dog's nose and take a single step to the right or left around the bowl, making sure the line between the treat and your dog's nose stays straight. If your pooch gets off the bowl to try and reach the treat, lure your pup back onto the dish and reward him. You want to reinforce the concept of keeping his front feet on the bowl. Use the treat as a lever to get your dog to move slightly sideways to continue facing you. If your dog makes any attempt to move his back feet while keeping his front on the bowl, praise him enthusiastically and give him the treat. Continue practicing until your pup will sidestep one step to the right or left.
Add one step at a time until your dog can swivel all the way around the bowl with you across from him. Take things slow so your pooch can build muscle memory and awareness. Once your pup is solid pivoting in one direction, begin practicing the other direction.
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- Rubber-bottomed metal food bowl
- Offer an extra challenge by changing your position in relation to your dog's. Stand next to him, add extra distance or straddle his body. When working on something new, build the skill one step at a time, first in one direction, then the other.