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Training Exercises: Is It My Turn?

Practice your crosses and turns with Deborah Davidson Harpur

This month's course is all about choosing the right turn for your dog. In my classes, I had the students do sections of the course in three or even four different ways.

I broke it down from #1-#6, then #1-#10, then #6-#16 and #10-#20. We did each section with each and every choice the students in that class could come up with. Some were not optimal. Some were quite inventive. The rule was to have safe entries for your dogs and clear instructions. 

The first choice comes at #3. From #3 to #5, do you want to rear cross (crossing behind the dog), front cross(cross in front of the dog while facing him), post turn (turning to the right or left, "pulling" the dog along with you), or do a fancy European move, like a Jaakko (a straight blind cross into a curved blind cross), a Ketschker (a blind cross into a wrapped jump), or something else to get to #4? Then from #4 to #5, are you going to rear cross to pull the dog in or perhaps slide in a front cross or blind cross (cross in front of the dog while turning away from him)? 

Moving forward to the teeter, will you stay with the dog on your right and then rear cross from #7 to #8? Will you then rear cross again at #9 to send dog to #10? Or will you front, blind, or rear cross at the teeter to get to the dog on your left and then send to the tunnel and either serpentine, front, or blind #9 and #10?  

From #10 to #14 there is another chance to choose a move. You could rear cross from #11 to #12, you could front cross, or you could blind cross. You might have other choices too. Can you keep your dog out of the tunnel when you are going to #15? 

Your next choice is from the table to the weave. Do you want to keep dog on the right or on the left? And how are you crossing at tunnel #18?

When you find a favorite way to run the course, challenge yourself to change up your handling in at least two places on the course, or eliminate all your first choices as an option. This will help you think creatively, build up your skills, and stretch your comfort zone.

Have fun and keep training, not complaining!

Subscribers should check out the subscriber news page on Wednesday for more exercises like these. 

Deborah Davidson Harpur has been competing in agility since 1999 and is known as a handler of a wide variety of breeds of all shapes and sizes. She offers agility training classes in the Port of Los Angeles area for both recreational and competitive agility students. You can find her on facebook at or read about her dogs at


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