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Training Exercises: 2005 Grand Prix of Dog Agility Semifinals

Go back in time and look at this 2005 Cynosport World Games course. Which of today's new handling maneuvers would have worked well on this course? By Brenna Fender

These exercises and commentary were written in 2006 regarding a semifinal course run at the 2005 Cynosport World Games. Handling has changed quite a bit since then! Try the suggestions listed below and then think about how you might use any other moves to successfully meet this course's challenges.

This article is part of USDAA's Training Tuesday, a weekly exercise shared on our facebook page. We ask that you read this article and then share your thoughts or even record yourself running the course or segments and share it on our wall! 

Although there are many sequences worth practicing in this challenging course, let's start with #1 through #4. In competition, most handlers led out past number two and handled their dogs off the right, pushing them to jump #3 and then calling them to the A-frame. Try this technique with your dog. Depending on your handling system, you might face the dog with your body pointed somewhat toward jump #3 to give your a head's up that you will be moving in that direction. You might stand facing your dog and inviting him to come to you through the tire, turning to move toward #3 only after your dog has completely committed to number #2. Or you might stand with your back to the dog at the tire, making eye contact over your shoulder. 

Now, imagine that the sequence falls somewhere else on the course so that you can't lead out. How could you handle this sequence if you and your dog had to run from #1 together? Try it with your dog on your left over #1 and #2. Can you cross behind (a rear cross involves changing sides behind your dog as he is moving ahead of you) #3 and pull him to the A-frame? Or do you need to run past #3 and flip him back to the A-frame, doing a cross on the flat (in between obstacles)? Can you run a relatively straight path, having your dog on the right for jump #1, crossing behind at the tire so that your dog is on your left, and then crossing behind again at #3 so that you can pull your dog to the A-frame? 

What if the correct sequence was #1, #2, #3, and then tunnel instead of the A-frame? What would you do differently?

At the Semifinals, many dogs had trouble with the #5 through #8 sequence. Coming out of the tunnel and jumping #7 cleanly and in the correct direction was tough for many dogs, and those who were successful then had to deal with the potential off-course chute before #8. 

Most handlers moved quickly to get to exit side of the tunnel so that they could front cross (turning in to their dogs while changing sides) and direct their dogs to #7 off the handler's right. Then the handler was on the inside of the pinwheel for #8 through #10. 

The front cross was trickier than it sounds. Handlers needed to be perfectly placed so that their dog could see the jump clearly.  If the handler moved forward early, the dog missed the jump entirely, running in between #7 and the tunnel exit. 

Handlers that didn't run well past the tunnel entrance before doing their front cross set their dogs up to take #7 at a difficult angle. Dogs that managed to see and take the jump were likely to knock the bar. Even those that cleared it successfully were often on the wrong lead and took a long, looping turn, which presented them with the chute.

Experiment with your dog to see where you need to stand in order to make #7 as clear as possible for your dog.  How will you need to handle your dog prior to the tunnel in order to make it to your ideal front cross spot?

What if you can't get there to make the front cross? What would you do? Could you handle your dog off the left, meeting him at the tunnel exit and drive him out past #7? You would then turn, send him to the jump and cross behind #7. If you can't (or don't want to) make it to the tunnel exit in time, could you push your dog out to #7 and do a rear cross on the landing side of #7, flipping your dog back to #8?  Are there other options you can think of? Watch out for that chute! [Now that we regularly see the back sides of jumps presented on courses, is this segment easier than it was in 2005?]

The other sequence that caused a lot of trouble on this course was #16 through #20. At the Semifinals, many dogs flew over the A-frame rather than ducking into the tunnel. Most handlers did a front cross between jump #17 and the A-frame to block their dogs' view of the off-course obstacle. This move allowed the handler to be closer to the tunnel exit to make sure the dog pushed out to #19. The final obstacle also had to be closely managed because dogs who sliced #19 landed facing the ring gating and couldn't see #20. 

Try the sequence using the front cross, but also try keeping your dog on your left. Can you alter your dog's path before #17 so that #18 becomes more obvious? Can you keep your dog's attention so that a directional command and obstacle name are enough to get your dog to take the tunnel if you allow your dog to take #17 independently? How does hanging back and rear crossing after your dog enters the tunnel affect your ability to direct your dog to jumps #19 and #20? 

Then pretend that the A-frame is obstacle #18. How does this change your handling plan? Can you handle #16 and #17 with the dog on your left and rear cross at the A-frame to pull your dog to #19? Will a front cross between #17 and the A-frame still work?

Brenna Fender is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Florida with her husband, two children, three dogs, and various other creatures. Want to submit articles to Contact Brenna at


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