Command Series – The Difference between Switch and Back

One of the most common questions I get is “What is the difference between Switch and Back?”

Both of those commands mean for the dog to turn away from me, but they are dependent on where I am as a handler.Switch

A Switch means for the dog to turn away from my side, so in the diagram below, I am to the side of the dog, if I want my dog to go to hoop #3 I would give her a Switch command.

A Back command means for the dog to turn away and drive forward, I use this command backblog1when my dog is coming toward me, it means for them to turn sharply away and then drive ahead. The diagram below shows where I would be standing for a Back command.

I began teaching Try a Back command when I started doing bonus lines with her, I found there were many instances that she was coming toward me, and I needed her to turn away and a Switch just didn’t quite fit. So I wanted to teach a command that meant I needed her to turn away from me, I also really wanted to emphasize that she needed to drive hard away from me after the Back because most of the time she would be going straight away from me for a few obstacles and I really wanted her to have that speed and confidence pushing away.

In the Foundation for Directionals Training series I go over how I teach both my Back and Switch command, and the Advanced Directional series covers more advanced uses of both commands.

The key to any directional command is that your dog come into the turn with speed and leave the turn with speed, this helps boost both drive and confidence, I don’t want my dogs to leave a turn without drive, I want them pushing ahead and looking for the next obstacle.

So most of my foundation training for my directional commands focus around creating speed and drive into and out of every turn they make.

The below video clips shows me doing both a Back and a Switch with Try.

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