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Training Exercises: Proofing Contacts and Weaves

Can your dog maintain your performance criteria when challenged? By Elizabeth Dott

I personally love course maps. When I am at an agility trial, if there are enough to go around, I might grab a course map from all the classes offered on that day. Course maps are perfect for training skills and can be broken down and re-imagined for new training purposes.

I divide my agility training into two categories, my job and my dog's job. My job involves things I can influence, like that way my dog takes a jump. My dog's job involves things I need to train him to understand, like the criteria for properly completing weave poles and contacts. If my dog understands his job, then I can move forward and do mine.

Last weekend's 2014 Western Regional Championships provided exciting course challenges that can create great training exercises. The Advanced Standard course by Rob Bardenett, run on September 1, lends itself to proofing weave poles and contacts. Proofing means to test your dog's understanding of obstacle performance criteria under challenging circumstances. 

Using this course, we are going to focus on my dog's job and proof elements of what I am asking to make sure my dog understands every variable.

Section 1: Weave Poles
There are several sequences I can use to proof my dog's performance through the weave poles. See numbers #1-#3 and work the exercises below:

#1 Running straight and getting ahead.
See how fast you can run while your dog continues to stay in the poles. Can you get away and leave him weaving while you drive to jump #4?

#2 Crossing at the entrance.
Can you send your dog ahead in the weave poles and blind cross (turning your back to your dog as you cross in front of him), front cross (turning in to your dog as your cross in front) or rear cross (crossing behind your dog) at the entrance?

#3 Crossing at the exit.
See if you can get ahead of your dog and blind cross or front cross at the exit while your dog remains in the weave poles.

Section #2 A-frame and Dogwalk
To work on your A-frame and dogwalk contacts, use these exercises, and keep in mind your own criteria for contact performance:

#1 From jump #4 and jump #7, see if you can blind cross or front cross the entry to your contact.

#2 Now try keeping your dog on your left for the A-frame and on your right for the dogwalk; blind cross or front cross the end of your contacts while the dog maintains his criteria.

#3 Remain on the left for the A-frame and on the right for the dogwalk and try rear crossing jumps #5 and #9.

You can work the teeter as well by trying all of the things listed above while asking your dog to maintain his criteria.

Can you find other ways to practice and proof your contacts and weaves on this course? What about on the Starters course below?

Have fun with these courses!

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

Elizabeth Dott has been competing in agility since 1993. She owns Legendary Agility Training (named after her heart dog, Legend) in Altamonte Springs, Florida. She has competed at the national Level and has put several championships on her dogs over the years. She has also helped many of her students achieve their own championships as well. In addition, Elizabeth runs Legendary Dog Designs and makes custom collars and leashes with agility in mind. She can be reached for questions or classes at


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