Clean Run - May 2013 - 22

FRONT
CROSS

FOOTWORK
By Laura Manchester-Derrett
Photos by Samantha Dillard

Dog agility has truly become an athletic and competitive sport. To be at
your best in this sport, you need a dog
that loves to run and work for you. You
also must have a great form of communication that synchs your dog to your
every move.
There is no doubt that our dogs are athletes. But many of us are not as athletically gifted as our canine teammates, so
we need to be as efficient and clear as
possible with our body cues when we
are communicating to our dogs around
a course. Understanding the importance
of footwork and improving our physical
execution of the front cross is one way
to increase our efficiency on course.
Let’s first discuss what we are cuing to
our dogs with our bodies when we are
executing a front cross and how we expect our dogs to respond.

ABOUT Front Crosses
When training our dogs in the Greg
Derrett handling system we spend the
dog’s foundation time teaching him to
drive to the reinforcement zone (RZ),
the area directly in front of us where
rewarding occurs. Based on the dog’s
strong desire to get to our RZ, we can
cue our dogs to respond to it. For example: when RZ is running in a direction, the dog is running in that same
direction; when RZ is slowing or stopping, the dog slows/stops; when RZ is
turning, the dog turns in the same direction; and if RZ turns to face the dog,
the dog turns to drive directly to it.
Again, all this is based upon the dog’s
drive to get to his place of reward.
The primary reason to execute a front
cross is the need to switch the side we
are handling the dog from. If the dog
understands to chase RZ and drive toward it when it faces him, then we can
cue the dog to turn left or right.
Imagine that you are running ahead
of your dog and he is on your left side
accelerating after you. You begin to decelerate (preparing to do a front cross)
so your dog responds by shortening up
his stride in anticipation of catching up
with you and RZ. You begin to rotate
(the goal being to turn the direction you
just came from), toward your dog causing your RZ to face him. Your dog re22

sponds by turning right, driving toward
RZ. Then once you turn, you accelerate
to run in the new direction with the dog
now on your right side. Remember, all
this was cued by the dog chasing after
RZ in anticipation of reinforcement.
Once again, the front cross cue means
for the dog to turn either left or right
while allowing you not only stay ahead
of the dog, but also to switch sides.
However, because of the lack of understanding of efficient footwork for this
turn, handlers often find it difficult to
execute the front cross smoothly; they
struggle to continue running in the new
direction while trying not to trip over
their own feet.
Some common issues that handlers
experience are caused by basing their
execution of a front cross on their arms,
when instead it should revolve around
their feet. If the feet are correct, the
arms will be correct. Other problems
occur when handlers take too many
awkward steps, either due to running
backward or stepping in the wrong direction. In addition, handlers sometimes
feel they are “tweaking” their knees or
they just can’t seem to get themselves
out of the turn; this is usually due to
keeping all the weight on their heels.
This causes handlers to get "stuck" or
caught flat-footed.

IMPORTANT Facts

to Keep in Mind

Before we discuss and practice the actual front cross maneuver and footwork,
we want to keep the following in mind:
l Be sure your dog has good understanding and drive for RZ.
l Step in the direction you want your
dog to go with the foot closest to
the dog.
l Face the direction you want your dog
to go until he is committed (commitment to jumps means take off).
l Remember that your dog should respond by accelerating or decelerating
and turning in the direction that you
step. Know and understand which
direction you are going next.
l Keep your weight on the balls of
your feet, not your heels.
Clean Run | May 13



Clean Run - May 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - May 2013

Clean Run - May 2013
Contents
Reflections from a Novice Handler or What I Have Learned from My Dogs
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
So You’ve Got a Small Dog Now
Training to Your Strengths
The Judge’s Debriefing
Front Cross Footwork
Club Games to Light the Competitive Fires
The 10-Minute Trainer
Out Spot Out! Teaching Independent Obstacle Performance, Part 2
Knowledge Equals Speed! Teaching Verbal Directional Commands, Part 3
How to Choose Your Best Agility Instructor
4 Easy Steps to Getting More Accomplished When You Train
Carpal Hyperextension Injuries
Power Paws Drills: Timing Turns
Ultimate Instructors: Lesson Planning & Foundation, Part 2
Busting the Myths: Too Slow for Your Dog?
I Know That’s Not the Way You’re Supposed to Handle This, But…
Training with the Stars: Amanda Nelson
Clean Run - May 2013 - Clean Run - May 2013
Clean Run - May 2013 - 2
Clean Run - May 2013 - Contents
Clean Run - May 2013 - 4
Clean Run - May 2013 - Reflections from a Novice Handler or What I Have Learned from My Dogs
Clean Run - May 2013 - Tip of the Month
Clean Run - May 2013 - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Clean Run - May 2013 - Backyard Dogs
Clean Run - May 2013 - 9
Clean Run - May 2013 - 10
Clean Run - May 2013 - So You’ve Got a Small Dog Now
Clean Run - May 2013 - 12
Clean Run - May 2013 - 13
Clean Run - May 2013 - 14
Clean Run - May 2013 - 15
Clean Run - May 2013 - 16
Clean Run - May 2013 - 17
Clean Run - May 2013 - Training to Your Strengths
Clean Run - May 2013 - 19
Clean Run - May 2013 - The Judge’s Debriefing
Clean Run - May 2013 - 21
Clean Run - May 2013 - Front Cross Footwork
Clean Run - May 2013 - 23
Clean Run - May 2013 - 24
Clean Run - May 2013 - 25
Clean Run - May 2013 - Club Games to Light the Competitive Fires
Clean Run - May 2013 - 27
Clean Run - May 2013 - 28
Clean Run - May 2013 - The 10-Minute Trainer
Clean Run - May 2013 - 30
Clean Run - May 2013 - 31
Clean Run - May 2013 - 32
Clean Run - May 2013 - Out Spot Out! Teaching Independent Obstacle Performance, Part 2
Clean Run - May 2013 - 34
Clean Run - May 2013 - 35
Clean Run - May 2013 - Knowledge Equals Speed! Teaching Verbal Directional Commands, Part 3
Clean Run - May 2013 - 37
Clean Run - May 2013 - 38
Clean Run - May 2013 - 39
Clean Run - May 2013 - How to Choose Your Best Agility Instructor
Clean Run - May 2013 - 41
Clean Run - May 2013 - 4 Easy Steps to Getting More Accomplished When You Train
Clean Run - May 2013 - 43
Clean Run - May 2013 - 44
Clean Run - May 2013 - 45
Clean Run - May 2013 - Carpal Hyperextension Injuries
Clean Run - May 2013 - 47
Clean Run - May 2013 - 48
Clean Run - May 2013 - 49
Clean Run - May 2013 - 50
Clean Run - May 2013 - Power Paws Drills: Timing Turns
Clean Run - May 2013 - 52
Clean Run - May 2013 - 53
Clean Run - May 2013 - 54
Clean Run - May 2013 - 55
Clean Run - May 2013 - 56
Clean Run - May 2013 - Ultimate Instructors: Lesson Planning & Foundation, Part 2
Clean Run - May 2013 - 58
Clean Run - May 2013 - Busting the Myths: Too Slow for Your Dog?
Clean Run - May 2013 - 60
Clean Run - May 2013 - I Know That’s Not the Way You’re Supposed to Handle This, But…
Clean Run - May 2013 - 62
Clean Run - May 2013 - Training with the Stars: Amanda Nelson
Clean Run - May 2013 - 64
Clean Run - May 2013 - 65
Clean Run - May 2013 - 66
Clean Run - May 2013 - 67
Clean Run - May 2013 - 68
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