And why they’re fab for Freestyle, too!
What are the “Into” Signs?
More specifically, the “Free Choice Into…” signs refer to Rally-FrEe signs #11, #12, #13, and #33. They cue the handler to choose a transition to move the dog into one of the four basic positions: Front, Left Heel, Right Heel, and Behind. The primary transitions are: Circle, Thru, and Spin.
A common mistake is to do any free choice behavior, rather than a transition!
Why are They So Worth Doing?
The reason these signs exist, and what makes them awesome, is that they help our dogs learn to get into the different positions fluently and fluidly. They build value and understanding in position work and heel work. If you’re looking to move up the ranks in Rally-FrEe, focus on these because nearly all the Intermediate signs build off of these signs! The intermediate signs add movement to these positions. Introducing the signs while your dog is working in Novice saves you lots of time! (And makes things easier for you and your dog.) If you’re wanting to move up in Musical Freestyle, becoming fluent in these behaviors can save you when you need a “Plan B”, and fast!: You know that moment when you look down and suddenly your dog is out of position? (How did you even get there, pup!?) These moves are the difference between an easy transition back into position to keep going or your routine going South because you lost your groove.
The Two Essential Pieces
1. Ask yourself, “What is the easiest way for my dog to get into position and do it directly?”.
The dog moves DIRECTLY into position. This one is all about finding the easiest transition for your pup to get directly into position.
2. Accuracy and precision
When approaching an “into” sign on a course, you are scored on overall execution of everything you do at that station. Accuracy and precision of ending position, and also how well you execute the chosen transition into it.
You’re not scored on the difficulty or creativity. (This can come as a surprise to many of us!) The “Free Choice” often causes us to think of sign #3, where we are provided extra points for those elements. With these signs though, accuracy and precision are key! Making things more difficult can be a detriment.
Here are a couple ways you can integrate these transitions to position in your training, whether you’re well-versed or just starting!
- You can use transitions into positions as a great warm-up to keep your dog really fluent!
- Working as a Novice? There are 3 transitions (Circle, Thru, and Spin) and 3 positions (Front, Left Heel, Right Heel) for the Novice level! How many different combinations can you and your dog do? That’s how many you can practice!