RA511: Positions, Laterals and Backing

Instructor: Julie Flanery

Course Details

In Rally-FrEe and musical freestyle there are four primary positions: Left heel, right heel, standing center and behind facing the handler. While maintaining position, the dog is required to move in any direction. In this course we will work through exercises and handler skills to define, and create precision and accuracy in positions and teach precise execution of pivots, lateral movement (side-passes) and backing. We'll focus on clear and consistent criteria using props and shaping, build value in that criteria and work through the process of placing these skills on verbal cue, preventing dependency on and the removal of props or aids. Don't do freestyle? The processes apply to any sport where positions, laterals and backing are valued.


There are no scheduled sessions for this class at this time. We update our schedule frequently, so please subscribe to our mailing list for notifications.

Registration begins at 12 noon PST. 

Enrollment limits: Gold: 12 students, Silver: 12 students, Bronze: unlimited. If you are interested in a bronze level subscription, you can sign up at any time during the registration period.


Week 1: Standing Platforms, Naming Positions and Cue Discrimination

             Building Value in Positions

Week 2: Adding Movement: Pivot Platforms

             Successful Removal of Platforms and Transferring the Cue

             Shaping up for Robust Positions

Week 3: Stand by Me! Maintaining Position in Laterals and Side-passes

Week 4: The Illusive Straight Standing Center

Week 5: Backing in center, heel and right

Week 6: Behind Position: Follow Me! And Alternative Position: Handler's Choice

Prerequisites and Equipment

Use of markers or clickers will be prevalent in this course. Handlers should already be using markers in their training and dogs should have understanding of the click/treat relationship.

Handlers should understand the process of "shaping" or marking and rewarding small increments of behavior toward building the end result.

Gold level students will need the ability to video their training sessions and upload thier video to YouTube, then post in the forums for intructor review.


Standing platforms: Your platforms should be large enough for your dog to stand on, but that's about it! Too long is generally fine, but you don't want your platform too short or your dog will not feel comfortable standing. The width should be 1-2 inches wider than your dog's rear feet. The height should be at least 3 inches. You'll need at least 2 standing platforms, 3 would be great, especially when we work cue discrimination. You can purchase online here, or make your own. There are a couple of good YouTube vids that show you how. Heather Lawson has posted a couple and they are available in the alumni FB page links as well as here:  https://www.facebook.com/notes/fenzi-dog-sports-academy-alumni-group/links-and-directions-for-building-your-own-platforms-or-other-class-related-equi/434893850035173

Training gates:  These can be made from wire cube organizer panels (sold online or in-store), secured in lengths of 10 with zip-ties.  Often you can find the wire panels used at thrift stores.  The best price I’ve found is at K-mart online, free ship to store or home, linked above. One box of 6 cubes will net you two lengths of 10 panels.  Very large dogs or dogs that do not respect barriers may use 18”-24’ Ex-pens. Very small dogs may do better with "critter playpens" for small pets.

Pivot platforms: Sometimes referred to as "perches" or "disks". These are small platforms, just large enough for the dog's front paws. Just as with your standing platforms, you do not what your pivot platforms to be too much larger than your dog's front paws.  Too much space and your dog will move his front feet too much, when the objective is to keep the front feet stationary and the rear feet moving. I use upside down dog food dishes as they come in a variety of sizes. I also like the round shape rather than a square shape. they often have rubber bottom as well.  If they don't, gluing a piece of yoga mat or shelf liner can help with grip.  You may also want a piece underneath the dish if working on a slick floor.

Ex-pen or other taller gating: 24' is fine for smaller dogs, 30-36" high for larger dogs.

mat, towel or crate pad

Please contact me if you have any questions regarding equipment.

Course Testimonials

A sampling of what prior students have said about this course ...

I loved this class. This is the third class I have taken from Julie, and all of them have been rewarding and fun. I am glad she split the class into two parts to give us a bit more time to concentrate on each exercise. The freestyle moves seem like magic when you are watching them, but Julie has great methods to teach them in increments with the aid of props. She has an eye for detail and precision and has great suggestions about how to get there. We are really starting to get it. My dog loves the training and runs inside the training gates when I put them up eagerly wanting to begin. Julie is very encouraging, upbeat and positive with a lovely manner. Sandy H           

The Rally FrEe positions class was new this session. I had been hoping something like this would be offered and this class certainly was exactly what I had hoped for and more. RallyFrEe has many positions needed to compete. Most instructors are not familiar with all the positions required. With Julie being the "founder" no one better to work with! Thank you FDSA for adding her to the academy Connie L         

This is an awesome course as a thorough understanding of the Rally FrEe positions is invaluable. Julie provides extensive information through lectures and videos and then follows that up with fantastic advice & guidance. Melita R

I can't say enough good things about the Rally Free/Musical Freestyle classes and Fenzi Academy. It has opened a whole new world to me and my fur babies. Pat K         

For students in most of the world, RallyFree courses are not available in person locally. However, not to worry! You can take RallyFree classes from the founder of the RallyFree venue, here at FDSA. It is a great opportunity that we are so lucky to have! Holly K.            

Wow ! I am so impressed with the Fenzi “classroom” approach. The combination of a top-notch instructor with amazing observation skills / feedback and video are unbeatable. This level of instruction, much less in my field of interest, is not available for me within a days drive. I’m also now hooked on video and will be videoing my own practice sessions. Katherine S.         

I love that Julie is so thorough with the foundation behaviors. This is only going to make us that much stronger as we progress. She always provides a road map for each individual team so we know how to continue training a behavior even after class ends. Very valuable! Stacey M.