The walk the dog is probably one of the oldest moves that’s still done in modern freestyle. While incredibly simple in concept, it requires a deft touch and careful manipulation of weight distribution, and as such, can be a tough one to really master.
That said, it’s worth persevering with – more than anything else I could ever write a tip for, this is the one standard move in freestyle which everyone needs to know. If you watch any contest run or video part, this is the thing which fills in the gaps between tricks, giving skaters a little bit of time to think and breathe while they prepare for the next part of the run.
This is what your footing will look like from above. Notice the ball of the front foot is exactly in the centre of the deck – this is the point the board will pivot around, so if it’s too far off in any direction, the board won’t end up in the same position it started in.
It’s also incredibly important to keep the heel up off the deck, enabling the board to spin freely around the ball of the foot. I’m exaggerating slightly in this image, but generally, the heel has to be higher than the edges of your deck – you barely have to lift it for a flat board, but if you’ve got steep concave, it’ll probably look more like this.
I prepare to start the rotation by keeping my shoulders facing the nose, and the front foot pointing perfectly forwards. That front foot shouldn’t move from this position throughout the whole move; if I do this correctly, the last frame should look near-identical to this one.
Here, I’m beginning the step to the nose with the back foot. My weight is kept central, above the front leg. If I lean forward, the board will shoot out backwards; you have to stay fairly relaxed, fluid, and upright throughout.
My back foot steps round to the nose, twisting so that it’s about 30º away from pointing at the heelside rail, while my front foot still points forwards. This should feel awkward; that uncomfortable twist is your lower body storing the energy for the next part of the move.
At this point, I shift my weight slightly to the back foot, bending the front knee, and lifting the back wheels off the ground enough to unwind. If you’ve already learned Endovers when you’re trying this, you’ll understand how little weight you need on your back foot here. At the same time, the heel on the front foot lifts as I get ready to push the board.
Now the rotation begins. The temptation is to try to just pull the board with the back foot, but it’s really the front foot pushing forwards in a straight line which does most of the work. I’m quite light on the front foot as I do this, allowing the board to spin beneath it.
As the front foot reappears from behind the back leg, you can see it hasn’t rotated one bit. You should also be able to see that it’s the front foot which has moved forwards across the frame, and the back foot has only moved backwards slightly, in a much smaller arc.
The rotation has almost finished, and my straight back leg is still keeping the front wheels lifted. I didn’t realise until I was preparing this sequence how close the heel of my front foot comes to the back foot as I finish the rotation; you should finish with your feet next to each other, making a T shape.
Now the rotation is complete, I straighten my front leg and transfer the weight back to that foot, ready to begin the next step. As noted above, I’ve finished at almost exactly the same position on the deck as where I began, meaning I can repeat this walk the dog sequence as many times as I like – or flow off into some other footwork, if I choose.
Take your time with this one. It’s not going to come quickly, and everyone wants to rush to begin with. Focus on minimising any movement in the front foot and getting the rotation as smooth as possible. Once you’re able to do the whole motion without any jerkiness or wasted movement, you’ll speed up naturally in time.
Sometimes you’ll see people do these in circles, stopping every rotation slightly short of 180º. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but make sure this isn’t the only way you can do them.
If your front foot is rotating with the board, check that your heel isn’t catching on the deck as you push it round. Tall concave will sometimes lock the foot in place. You could also consider not placing griptape in the centre of the board, but that might affect other tricks; personally, I sand the griptape down slightly to minimise friction without removing it completely.