Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 37

Your Dog Can’t If You Can’t The first step in training a beautiful front cross is for the human half of the team to understand and learn how to execute front crosses. Nothing sets up bigger howls of protest than introducing a class of new students to the front cross. Each student reveals herself as somehow specially handicapped and particularly doomed to failure when it comes to front crosses. Even so, all my students do learn to do front crosses, do them well, and enjoy doing them. You can, too. Agility handlers would do well to take a page from competition obedience trainers and spend a great deal of time perfecting their footwork and making sure it is consistent. My suggestion is to set up two jumps and draw a chalk line between them where your front cross should be, and practice without your dog. If you have ever taken aerobics, a front cross is the same as a “turning grapevine.” If you have ever carried toe shoes in a vinyl box with a picture of Barbie on it, it’s similar to a “pas de bourrée turn.” If you have never taken ballet or aerobics, just keep practicing moving along the line while turning, and you will naturally begin to develop your footwork. Lending a Hand I recommend using an arm/hand cue with front crosses to signal the dog that he should move out of his working space and establish a new working space on your other side. If you are running with your dog on your right and wish to do a front cross so that your dog will be on your left (as in the previous photo sequence) lift your left hand across your body while you are running and pretend you are reaching out and down to grasp a tow rope attached to your dog’s nose. Now imagine that you’re holding on to that rope and pulling your dog in to you as you rotate your body and move toward the next obstacle in sequence. Finish by pitching your dog over the obstacle with your left hand. Using this arm cue will accomplish four tasks: • Initiating a turn by using your arm helps stabilize you in the turn and makes it easier to keep your balance while crossing. • If you are using a working space as I described in my October CR article, you will not be running the course with any arm signals. Lifting your arm to initiate the turn will clearly signal your dog that a change of direction is coming. • The virtual rope that connects you and your dog helps you draw a nice, straight line from obstacle to obstacle. It gives you anchor points and keeps you mindful of where you’re turning and where you’re sending your dog. This will result in more direct lines and minimize “wobble.” • For beginners, pretending to grab a rope attached to the dog’s nose prevents you from rotating the wrong way. Once you make that virtual connection with your dog’s nose and your “new side” hand, there is no way you can turn in the incorrect direction. Teaching Your Partner His Role Once you have a grasp of how to do a front cross yourself, you can start training your dog. To achieve lovely, smooth, front crosses you need to teach your dog to: • Recognize and respond as early as possible to your front-cross cue • Maintain enough lateral distance for you to get into position for the front cross This month we’re going to talk about methods and exercises for teaching your dog to recognize your cue for a front cross. That might seem obvious, but it is a step quite often overlooked or glossed over. Most handlers reinforce their dogs heavily for completing the front cross, but I have observed that very few spend a lot of time reinforcing the dog’s early response to the cue to do a front cross. What cue do you want your dog to respond to for a front cross? While you are going to be using a hand/arm cue, that is really not so much a cue as it is an aid to an easier and better front cross. The thing you want your dog to pick up on and respond to is the rotation of your outside shoulder in his direction. A human has to turn her upper body before moving her feet, so this will be the first thing the handler physically has to do to initiate the front cross. You will naturally start to shift your weight and to slightly turn your shoulders in well before the first obstacle in the cross. This change in shoulder position will be evident to your dog before your hand signal is, and you want to teach him to recognize it as a cue that a front cross is coming up. Agility handlers would do well to take a page from competition obedience trainers and spend a great deal of time perfecting their footwork and making sure it is consistent. December 08 | Clean Run 37

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run Magazine - December 2008

Clean Run Magazine - December 2008
Think Outside the Box (and the Ring)
Editorializing: Just One More Run
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
Trainer’s Forum
Cece’s Gym Exercise of the Month: Treadmill Walking
Handling Your Dog in Awesome Style, Part 9: Common Sequences
Agility Class Etiquette
K9 Kudos: Seeing Spots
Foundation Fundamentals: Flatwork Skills Wrap-up
So You Want to Raise an Agility Star
Canine Health Care: FAQs
Conquering Ring Nerves: Feeling Overwhelmed by Big Goals?
Retraining Agility Skills
Skill of the Month
Walking the Course…Backward?
Agility Organization Update
Using Silent Running to Improve Body Language
Letter to the Editor
Course Diagram Keys
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Clean Run Magazine - December 2008
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 2
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 3
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 4
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Editorializing: Just One More Run
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Tip of the Month
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Backyard Dogs
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 9
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 10
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 11
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Trainer’s Forum
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 13
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 14
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 15
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Cece’s Gym Exercise of the Month: Treadmill Walking
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 17
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 18
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 19
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 20
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 21
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Handling Your Dog in Awesome Style, Part 9: Common Sequences
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 23
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 24
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 25
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 26
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 27
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 28
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 29
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 30
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Agility Class Etiquette
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 32
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 33
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 34
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 35
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 36
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 37
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 38
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 39
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 40
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 41
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - K9 Kudos: Seeing Spots
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 43
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 44
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Foundation Fundamentals: Flatwork Skills Wrap-up
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 46
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 47
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 48
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 49
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 50
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 51
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - So You Want to Raise an Agility Star
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 53
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 54
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 55
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 56
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Canine Health Care: FAQs
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 58
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Conquering Ring Nerves: Feeling Overwhelmed by Big Goals?
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 60
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 61
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 62
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 63
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 64
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Retraining Agility Skills
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 66
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 67
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Skill of the Month
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 69
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 70
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 71
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Walking the Course…Backward?
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 73
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 74
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Agility Organization Update
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 76
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 77
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 78
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Using Silent Running to Improve Body Language
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 80
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 81
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - Course Diagram Keys
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 83
Clean Run Magazine - December 2008 - 84
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