Purpose: Pivot + Step Up progresses the pivot exercise and introduces the concept of stepping onto/off of a target from the side. This teaches individual foot placement, improves body awareness, and prepares the dog for more advanced variations of this exercise like Pivot + Step Up: Intermediate and Pistol Squats: Advanced. This can also be a helpful method for dogs who rush and are struggling to pivot slowly, or who default to lateral spine flexion over a neutral/straight spine.
Equipment: 1 Rubber Bowl or other Raised Foot Target, 2 Sitting Platforms.
Targets: The intent of this exercise is to continue to build body awareness through the rear end, promotes controlled abduction/adduction of the pelvic limb (PL), and introduces the foundation mechanics of stepping on to, and off of a prop from the side. Later, this will become a strengthening exercise for the outer hip and inner thigh.
NOTE: This graphic highlights the important positions we are trying to reward. The initial step down, both rear feet on the ground, and the initial step up.
Rewarding in these 3 positions along the way to the final position builds value to each slow, controlled step, and helps combat the rushing that happens when the reward is only delivered in the final position. Special thanks to Candi & Charli for the image!
- Using a very low and large platform (that the dog is familiar with) is the key to success, as “over-facing” the dog here (asking for too high of a Step-Up/Step-Down), will likely result in the dog avoiding the prop all together, and offering a different behavior. If the prop is too small (like a paw pod) the rear foot target will require more motor skills than a dog learning this movement has available, resulting in frustration.
- Notice how I mark/reward the individual components. This not only sets up a high rate of reinforcement, it also tells the pup that each of these new movements are desired INDIVIDUALLY, and that it’s not a race to get to the target. This is critical, and is highlighted in the graphic above.
- The dog should be fluent in the component pieces before attempting to combine them. If at any point you find your pup is struggling, split the components apart and work on the individual pieces separately. Remember splitting is better than lumping.