SCHUTZHUND - Schutzhund Training
I teach the flip finish to my dogs- I love the way it looks when executed properly, and also because the dog can't get distracted and get into trouble, while going around behind me if taught that way. I begin by teaching it as part of the heeling exercise. While working a normal heel routine, I will give the dog a come command, and reverse direction- taking 2 or 3 steps backwards [don't turn around just back up], and guide the dog in front of me into a sit facing me. After a brief pause I give a heel command, I then simultaneously pop up on the leash/collar, step forward with the left leg, abruptly and with a bit of an exaggerated knee thrust forward "into" the dog, and then continuing forward in a normal heel. When I do this I try to guide the dogs head to my right [dogs left], and at the same time my knee thrust is slightly to my right also. This is to guide the dog into turning to his left. It must be done quickly so the dog is somewhat surprised by the maneuver, and doesn't have a chance to try to turn in the wrong direction or make a slow evasive turn, but must instead hop around, swinging to his left to get out of your way. Don't let him go far to the left though, it should be more of a flipping around motion to face the other direction. Once I have done this for several sessions, and the dog seems to understand to "get out of the way quick", and "get into heel position beside the left leg," I go to the next step. The next step is to give your dog a sit/ wait command, and pivot around in front of the dog so you are facing him, and quite close. I use a "wait" command as this will queue the dog that further action is going to be required. After a brief pause, give a heel command, and step quickly forward as in the previous exercise, but only take two or three steps, then command the dog to sit, as you halt. The dog should end up sitting beside you in heel position. This should be repeated immediately, by again giving the dog a wait command, pivoting in front of the dog, and going through the same motions again. The exercise should be repeated three times in fairly quick succession, perhaps four if the dog seems "confused." Then break off and do some fun, quick heeling. After some heeling and perhaps other exercises you can repeat this exercise three more times. When this has been done in a few training sessions you are ready to go to the next step, which is not much different than the previous, except you don't take more than one quick step forward. If you've been quick enough in your movements the dog should be flipping around to your side to get out of the way, and of course, ending up in heel position. At this point after two repetitions you should try "faking" your dog by just lifting your knee abruptly as though you were going to take a step, but don't actually step forward. Again if you've followed these "instructions", and been quick enough with your moves the dog should now have flipped into heel position beside you. Praise profusely [depending on your dogs temperament of course]. For brevity I didn't mention praise in most of the "instruction" - but- this should always be a part of training any exercise, when it is apparent the dog is trying to co-operate with your objectives. There is a fair amount of compulsion, and "startle factor" for your dog when teaching this so it should be broken up with other fun heeling, after the specified repetitions. Be careful, if you do this right the dog will start to anticipate your move and try to flip before you give your command- don't allow this. If the dog attempts this without command you should give a quick come command and take a couple of steps backwards, guiding the dog back into a sit in front, and begin again. When you see this anticipation you know the dog understands the command, so it need not be done in as many repetitions. I forgot to mention when you begin you must not try to go around the dog- try to step directly into the dog- this is the element of surprise which will make your dog "flip" around to get out of your way. If you "go easy" on the dog trying not to scare/harm him, and "go around" the dog he will only learn to turn around with you, and not flip around to get out of your way. If you think this is an unfair expectation watch how quickly your dog can flip around during play- he can do the same to get out of your way.
Best Wishes to ALL, Bob
Permission given on 8/2/01