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November's Exercises: Intersections

Train your dog to move through a group of off-course obstacles, taking only the right ones. By Tania Chadwick


This month we're going work on intersections (a set of obstacles that surround you as you move toward the next obstacle in a course).  Successful negotiation of an intersection occurs when your dog ignores the distraction obstacles and travels with you to the correct obstacle.

For example an intersection could be a set of four jumps that you must travel through  (shown in Figure A - note that the black dog is on course and the red dog is veering off) or jumps surrounding a tunnel (shown in Figure B).

To get through the intersection, you should move in a swift and consistent motion to the correct obstacle and avoid over-calling your dog or adding any handling moves that slow the dog's motion or draw attention to the off-course obstacles.  Think of it like a movie where you're moving towards something quickly and everything else is blurred.  If you slow down and over-handle, everything slows down. Nearby objects come into focus and the dog sees all the options around him. 

Figure A


   * To start, set up the four jumps in a square as in Figure 1.
   * Start with the set-up jump and practice running #1-#3 with speed while telling your dog "jump" (or your jump command). Ignore the side jumps by running straight to #3 and keep your shoulders and your near arm to the dog, forward to show the forward jumps.
   * Eliminate extra calls, directionals, and heeling commands as you travel through the intersection.
   * Continue through the exercises 1.a - 1.c as you move jumps #1-#3 closer together and side jumps closer in.
   * Run through the exercises with your dog on your left side and right side.
   * Start next to your dog at #1 and then progress to leading out between #1-#2 and then standing at #2 as you release your dog.

Figure B


   * To start, set up the three jumps and tunnel as in Figure B.
   * Start by releasing your dog to the tunnel and move forward with speed to jump #2.
   * Ignore the side jumps by running straight to #2 and keep your arm closest to the dog forward to show the forward jump.
   * Eliminate extra calls, directionals, and heeling commands as you travel through the intersection.
   * Continue through the exercises 2.a - 2.c as you move jump #2 closer to the tunnel and the side jumps closer in.
   * Run through the exercises with your dog on your left side and right side and starting with both sides of the tunnel.
   * Start next to your dog at #1 and then progress to leading out just forward of the tunnel and then 10' or so in front of the tunnel.


Tania Chadwick, owner of Fortis Agility Sports Training in San Jose, California, is an agility instructor and full-time mother of two children. She currently competes with her young Border Collie Boss AD, AJ, AG, AS.  Tania can be reached at fortisagility@aol.com.

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