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Training Exercises: Have a Nice Day! Part 4

Practice serpentines and threadles with Elizabeth Dott!

This week, we are practicing threadles and serpentines on the same "Have a Nice Day" course layout that we have been using throughout this series. A threadle is a two-or-more jump series in which the dog must "thread" between jumps to take each subsequent jump from the same side. A serpentine is a three-or-more jump series in which a dog takes the jumps in an S-shape, alternating take-off sides.


We begin with the jump in front of the tunnel which takes us into our threadle. There are several ways to successfully do a threadle. You can work it from the inside by staying on the take-off side of #2 and staying on the inside path, bringing your dog through the gap. The best way to do this is to turn into your dog using your left hand to bring them through the gap. Your position is very important. How far you bring your dog in is equally important. You may have to experiment to find what position works best for your dog.

When you first begin training threadles with this segment, you will send your dog with your right hand and bring him through the gap with your left, rewarding him with a cookie for coming in. Then turn and release your dog over jump #3 with your right hand. You can do this all the way through the treadle. 

Another way to do a threadle is to use one hand and back through your threadle, moving backwards. You still want to bring your dog in, but you use your left hand like you are drawing with a pen through the entire process. Draw your dog's path in and out from #2 through #4 while you walk backwards. 

You can also do a threadle from the landing side of #2. You would drive through #2 and pick your dog up after he lands. Then use pressure and motion to push your dog through the gap to #3 and #4.

I have even seen people work threadles by driving in to the landing side of each jump using front crosses (turning in towards their dogs) to get their dog through the gap.

Can you find another way to do these threadles? If you can share with us.


After going back through the box, you are now going to work on a serpentine. You may opt to front cross at #7 to pick your dog up on your left side over #8 to work this serpentine. But there are several options here.

You can handle this serpentine by staying on the take-off side of #9 and using your shoulders to get your dog through the serp. If your dog is having trouble reading your shoulders, put your hands behind your back and try it a few times without your dog. Then add your dog back in and try it that way, just using your shoulders. Sometimes, if we take our hands and arms out, we are much sharper showing our dogs what we mean using our shoulders only. Then, add your hands back in a try it.

You can also drive in between #9 and #10 and do the serpentine from the back side, or drive in and use front crosses.

There are many ways to play with both serpentines and threadles on this course. This is one exercise. Can you find more? What about doing threadles through the box? Be sure to share your ideas with us and have a Nice Day! 

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 your class or training group playing this game. 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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