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Training Exercises: Gambling Practice

Tania Chadwick helps you improve your sends and distance handling.

We're gambling! I subscribe to the idea that gamble handling isn't that much different than regular handling, other than you have to have a regular working distance relationship where your dog can drive on ahead or laterally from you. I use pressure to drive my dog forward and less to turn or change direction. I also think "right" and "left" directionals are important tools and I use them often.

If your dog is part velcro, then use one jump to build the distance going away from you. Start 5' or so from the jump and release your dog to take the jump while you stand still. Move back a couple feet and try again. The handler stands still while the dogs goes a little farther forward without the handler. Keep moving back to add more and more distance.

Next, use one jump to build lateral distance. Follow the progression, above except the handler is sending the dog laterally away and adding more distance with every single successful attempt.

Figure 1

* The orange, dashed line is your gamble line and the goal is to stay to the right of it for #6-#9.  
* The green handler is putting pressure on the dog's line as the dog exits the jump to drive him forward so that when he begins to fade in, he will do so already facing the next jump.
* You want to avoid turning your shoulders too early, like the red handler, which will cause the dog to come into you instead of driving out to the #6 jump.

Figure 2

* The dog is facing the line he will take. You can also start the dog farther back in order to get more momentum.
* The handler stays to the right of the orange line. Notice the green, dashed lines showing where the handler is putting pressure on the dog's line with an outstreched arm and a verbal "go on hup," or an "out hup" command. The handler is angled towards the far side of the jump as if you wanted to run your dog to the left side wing of #2-#3.
* Avoid taking away the pressure by turning the shoulders too much to the right and running parallel with the dog, otherwise the dog will collapse into to you.
* Set up the start jump on the opposite end to work the other side.

Figure 3

* Here we will turn the dog away from us out of the tunnel. This is where a directional is key. I prefer using the hand nearest to the dog and turning him away from me to the jump. Notice where the dog is; his nose is barely out of the tunnel, but you need to say "right" strongly and then "jump" and use your right arm to turn him away from you. If you wait too long to turn him, he'll notice other obstacles in front of him or he'll come to you.
* As soon as my dog has taken the #3 jump, I follow the rotation of my shoulders to the right and bring up my left arm to apply the pressure to drive my dog onto #4.

This article is part of a new Training Tuesday series that is appearing on USDAA's facebook page. We encourage you to discuss these exercises on our facebook, and to upload videos of you and your dog trying one of them out. If you have a facebook account, please join in the fun here: 

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. Tania can be reached at  

A version of this article first appeared as a subscriber-only article here on 


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