We all know that the front cross is my favorite technique, but it’s not everyone’s favorite technique, and I really like having options to replace the most commonly using handling skill!
The lapturn is a technique used to turn your dog on the flat before the obstacle, so that they change leads before taking off and also change jumping trajectories so that they jump towards the next obstacle rather than away.
The lapturn begins identically to a false turn, but the exit lines are different.
The false turn is never a side change, while the lapturn is always a side change.
In a false turn, the dog’s exit line continues in the same direction, usually a slicing line. When you use a lap turn, you are pulling the dog away from the line they would naturally be on, and changing their take-off spot for the next obstacle. This gives you the benefit of replacing a front cross for one obstacle AND replacing another turning cue (reverse spin maybe) for the next one, but changing your dog’s approach to it.
Your motion moves backwards, parallel to the line you’d like your dog to take. After the turn, you move forward on that same line.
Your position should be one step away from the line you’d like your dog to take, and in most situations, two or more steps away from the obstacle you’re turning your dog to.
Your eyes should first watch the dog for commitment to your hand, and then follow the line you’d like your dog to take before and after the turn.
Your chest will point to the line you’d like your dog to take the entire time.
Your feet will be pointing forward always, moving you backwards away from the obstacle, and then forwards towards the new line.
Your dog side arm will cue the first obstacle, just like in a false turn. As you turn your chest towards the dog and move backwards, your non dog side hand will be held low and to the side of your leg, encouraging your dog to come towards you. As your dog commits to your hand, you will use your wrist to turn the dog’s head away from you and continue forward. This will become the new dog side arm.
This is not a natural technique for the dogs, because dogs do not naturally turn away from the handler. Once you have shown the dog the movement, however, it is easy for them to follow.
On the flat:
You can begin with a treat in your hand to lure your dog towards you. Step back with the leg closest to them as you use your wrist to turn their head away from you and continue forward.
Remember to work both sides. Once they are comfortable with the turn with a treat in your hand, try with your hand empty and sending them to a pre-placed reward after the turn.
On a wing:
Video: Megan & Shock! In the first attempt, I show you what it looks like if you don't turn the dog in time: they will become fixated on you and not have enough time or space to turn away.
In the second attempt, the lapturn at the end goes much better! In the third attempt, I attempt a rear cross for #3, demonstrating how easy it is to push the dog off of the jump or to the backside of #3.
In this sequence, use a lapturn for #3 to #4 and again from #5 to #6. These are both more traditional lapturns, replacing a front cross for #2 and #5, and making the turns for #3 and #6 easier for the dog.
Video: Megan, Shock & Shrek: With Shock, you'll see how my proximity to the #3 jumps makes or breaks the lapturn: if I am too close, she does not choose to come to my hand, she will choose to commit to the jump. With Shrek, part of his issue is the station so close – he is very drawn to it and the power of his canned food that comes when he's on it, but also he's very “green” when it comes to these techniques. He easily follows the handling, but going wide around the jumps tells me that he isn't ready to go this speed with full height jumps with this technique. If I try again, I'll try at 12″, then 14″, and then 16″, as long as he says it's ok!