Thursday was Bella's first day of Intermediate Obedience, and she did great. I was a little nervous because she's the youngest dog in the class, but after a few minutes, I knew she would be fine.
And I'm sure a lot of that is the hard work you've been putting into training her<:
1. Finish (return to heel position). I watched a You Tube video on how to guide your dog into position with treats, so I've been doing that. I have yet to use a command. What command is typically used for both finishes? Would you recommend using a command yet, or wait?
I see no reason why you wouldn't use commands right now.
There are two finishes.
Right finish = around or by me
Left finish = Swing
I use "around" for those rally exercises where I do not necessarily expect a sit at the end. You will have the schutzhund about turn where you turn around leftwise and your dog circles around your front to heel position.
By me = always a sit at the end.
There are also hand signals for both, and they have to be continuous motion in the end. Right now while you are teaching them, you would hold your hand out and guide a bit more.
I personally for everything teach with both verbal and hand signal.
2. Most of her fronts are pretty good. Every now and then (maybe 1 out of 5), she veers off a bit, and comes in at an angle, which results in a crooked front. Any advice on how to deal with that? I've seen people use a "fix it" command to get their dog to straighten out, move closer, etc. How do you go about training your dog to do that?
Do not get into the habit of "fixing" fronts. If the fronts are crooked, that means that you need to help her come in straight well before she gets in close enough (about 1-2 feet) to sit.
Training scoot fronts now and always helps train straight fronts. The dog is already straight and doesn't have too much room to shift crooked. You can mark and praise that straight front.
With Jacks generally if I see he is coming in crooked, I will put my hands down and guide him to adjust before he gets in too close. <- Or I'm supposed to.
If my timing is bad and he actually gets in and sits crooked, I will use my knees to push him back and make him readjust his butt without me moving myself to compensate for his crooked front.
3. What is the correct distance for a proper front?
When you are still training fronts, you will always keep the distance only as long as it takes your dog to come in straight and accurately each time.
3 feet is pretty common to start with. If your dog is handling that perfectly, back off to 6 feet, etc. Do not be in a rush to build too much distance too soon.
At the same time work on "comes" seperate from fronts. This would be putting your dog in a wait 20+ feet away and you will have toys or balls to throw between your legs or past you (make sure you are standing with your leg blocking front position so the picture is different). <- These are motivational and reinforce FAST comes and desire to come in fast with a dog while you are working on the front position with formal recalls. There is no sit at the end. The goal is only to get an active and fast come.