Heeling Foundations: Mastering the Transition Off the Pivot Bowl

May 11, 2024

Training a dog for heeling is a rewarding but challenging endeavor, and the pivot bowl is an invaluable tool in this process. However, transitioning your canine companion off the pivot bowl can pose its own set of challenges.


Mastering Pivots on the Bowl


Before attempting to transition away from the pivot bowl, it’s crucial to ensure that your dog’s pivots on the bowl are fluent. The dog should seamlessly pivot when you initiate movement, maintaining a consistent heel position throughout the process. This foundation is essential for a successful transition to off-bowl heeling.


Warm-Up on the Pivot Bowl


Begin each training session with a few warm-up reps on the pivot bowl. This helps your dog get into the right mindset for heeling and reinforces the desired behavior. Once your dog is comfortably pivoting on the bowl, you can start the process of moving away from it.


Breaking Down the Movement on the Pivot Bowl


To facilitate an easy transition, break down the movement into small, manageable steps. The key is to catch that initial movement when transitioning away from the bowl. Avoid the common mistake of moving too much too soon, as it may confuse your dog.


Start by just moving your shoulders slightly. If your dog responds by moving in the correct direction, even with a single step, immediately reward the behavior. It’s important to conduct this phase with your dog in a standing position, as pivoting from a sit can be more challenging at this stage of training.


Video Demonstrations


Refer to video demonstrations to visualize these concepts in action. In the first video, observe how minimal my movements are. The focus is on capturing any correct movement from the dog, marking it, and promptly rewarding.



In the second video, I break down a left turn to illustrate the process of capturing the very first step. Note the subtle shoulder movement and how the dog responds by backing up, showcasing the desired behavior for effective heeling.



The third video demonstrates a session where I start with the dog on the bowl, gradually transitioning to off-bowl pivots. When initially introducing off-bowl pivots, keep the turns minimal and focus on marking and rewarding the first movement.



Building Progress Gradually


Once your dog understands and consistently performs the first step, gradually add more steps to the heeling routine. Take your time and ensure that your dog is backing up to maintain the proper position. Remember, it’s about pivoting in place, not walking in a small circle.


Taking the time to work through the steps of mastering the pivot bowl and getting off of it will pay off as you train your dog to heel.  Remember to keep movements small and build on success, and your dog will be off the pivot bowl in no time!

Does the thought of teaching heeling seem overwhelming?

If teaching heeling is on your to-do list and you want a simple solid plan, this class is for you!  We’ll start on the bowl and cover everything from getting off the bowl to moving forward, executing turns, pace changes, and more!

We’ll also go over some fun games to keep heeling fresh and fun!

Join me to get off the bowl and moving forward!

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


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