Adding Fun to Heeling: Teaching Your Dog the Spin For Rally Master and More!

December 2, 2023

If you compete in the rally master class, your dog needs to know a left and right spin, but this skill isn’t only for rally dogs.  A counter-clockwise, or left spin, is a fun skill that can add enjoyment and precision to your heel. Teaching your dog to heel doesn’t have to be a dull and monotonous process. In fact, the more fun you can incorporate into heeling, the more enjoyable it becomes for both you and your four-legged companion.

 

Teaching the Spin

 

The spin is a delightful move that can inject a sense of playfulness into your heeling routine. Here’s how you can teach your dog this fun trick:

 

  • Start with a Lure: Begin by using a treat as a lure to guide your dog into the spinning motion. Hold the treat close to your dog’s nose and move it in a circular motion to encourage them to follow.
  • Transition to a Hand Prompt: After a few repetitions with the lure, try using your hand as a prompt instead. Hold your hand at the height of your dog’s nose and guide them in a circular motion. Make sure to use the same hand for consistency.
  • Add a Verbal Cue: Once your dog is comfortable with the hand prompt, start incorporating a verbal cue. Say the verbal cue just before giving the hand signal. This allows your dog to associate the verbal command with the spinning motion.
  • Practice and Repetition: Keep practicing the spin with both the verbal cue and the hand signal. Repetition is key to solidifying your dog’s understanding of the command.

 

It’s important to note that when you’re teaching these skills, it’s best to work on one direction at a time. Additionally, you can start teaching the spin in front of you rather than at your side if that’s easier for you and your dog.

 

Here are a couple more examples of the early learning stages when I start adding it to heel:

 

 

Taking Your Spin into the Master Rally Ring

 

If you’re interested in participating in the Master Rally class, you’ll need to teach your dog to spin in both directions. To ensure clarity and comfort for both you and your dog, consider using different leg placements for the left and right spins. This not only helps your dog understand which way to turn but also prevents them from accidentally bumping into your legs during the spin.

 

Want some extra help?  Check out my online class running right now, Movin’ On Up: Skills and Signs for Master Rally!

 

  • Left Spin (Twirl): For the left spin, keep your left leg forward, creating an open path for your dog to complete the spin. It’s essential to maintain consistency, even if you occasionally forget to switch legs when changing directions.

 

 

  • Right Spin (Spin): When teaching the right spin, position your left leg slightly behind you. This leg placement gives your dog enough space to start the spin without bumping into your leg. While you should be cautious as you move your left leg forward (especially with larger dogs), this leg placement is more comfortable for both you and your dog.

 

 

Customize to Your Dog’s Preference

 

Every dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. While I find the left spin (Twirl) to be extremely useful in training, it’s essential to observe your dog’s preferences and comfort levels. You may discover that your dog prefers different leg placements or variations of the spin. The key is to be consistent with your body cues, as this helps your dog understand your commands.

 

Join Us to Learn Rally Foundations!

Welcome to the exciting world of Rally! This course, Get Ready to Rally: Foundation Skills, covers essential skills for each Novice sign, including sits, downs, fronts, finishes, turns, and short heeling segments. We’ll teach you the mechanics, strategic reward placement, and how props enhance your dog’s understanding. Gain comprehensive knowledge to teach all 40 AKC Rally Novice signs without feeling overwhelmed. Whether pursuing TEAM Obedience, Rally programs, competition obedience, or strengthening your dog’s foundation, Rally is the perfect game for engagement and is particularly beneficial for those entering the competition ring for the first time.

Registration opens on January 22nd.  The 6-week class will start on February 1st!

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