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Training Exercises: Have a Nice Day! Part 5

The last in a series of exercises based on the same course layout. By Elizabeth Dott

Welcome to our last installment of the "Have a Nice Day" series. This final course adds in some tricky "back sides of jumps" exercises and revisits threadles and serpentines. 

Let's break down the course into small segments:

#1 and #2
From #1, there are several ways you can show your dog the back side of jump #2. You can work it with your dog on your left by leading out a bit between #1 and #2 and pushing your dog ever so gently to the back side by using a little bit of pressure with your body. Be careful of your hand position here. If you raise your arm too much you could push your dog out to #8/#11. You might want to practice this area a few times to understand just how much pressure you need to get your dog to understand that you want him to drive through and take the back side.

Another way to make this work is to lead out with dog on your right and call your dog through the gap and use a tandem turn to turn your dog away from you and over the jump. (A tandem turn is a turn on the flat where you and your dog are turning the same direction. Your dog will be turning away from you and you will be turning the same way as he is.) Again, this might take some practice to perfect. 

#3 and #4
If you have opted to keep your dog on your left, drive forward once your dog is committed to the back side of #2 and rear cross (cross behind) the tunnel at #4. If your dog is on your right then just drive forward until your dog is committed to the tunnel at #4.

#5 and #6
Again, there are two ways to get your dog to the back side of #5. If you want your dog on your left to use pressure to push your dog to the back side of #5, blind cross (cross in front of your dog while turning your back to him) or front cross (cross in front of your dog while turning in toward him) at the tunnel to put your dog on your left. Now, drive forward and push your dog to the back of #5 and then drive forward with your dog still on your left for #6. 

The second way to do this is to keep your dog on your right and call him through a little past #5 and again use a tandem turn to turn him away, however, if your dog turns too far, he might take the wrong end of the tunnel for #6. To avoid that, you want to continue driving forward toward the correct end of the tunnel or use the push instead.

#7, #8, and #9
Now you are headed back through the box, which can be tricky. A "box" in agility is a sequence in which obstacles are on four sides of you and your dog. Going straight through the box is just what it sounds like: you take jumps or obstacles straight through without veering off and taking something else. When I ask my dog to come through a box, I always give him the verbal command "Come!" to keep him focused on me and watching my motion and body. This is a great trick to get through boxes.

#10, #11, and #12
After #9, use a post turn (turn in place while your dog turns with you) to turn your dog to #10. #11 can be done just like #2, except, because you are now heading straight back to #12, push your dog to the back side rather then using a tandem turn to keep your dog on your right from #10 to #11. 

After #11, change sides to set yourself up to handle #13 effectively. There are a few ways you can do this. You can push to the back side and immediately use a blind cross on the landing side after #11. Alternately, you can use a front cross after the landing side of #11 or rear cross #12.

#13, #14, and #15
Now it is time to revisit our threadle and serpentine work from last week. You can pull your dog through the gap using your inside arm, or use the same arm and back up, using your hand like a laser pointer, or drive in between #12 and #13 and work the threadle with your dog on your right, pushing him through the gap with pressure and your body. Whichever side you choose to have your dog on, make sure you are using your shoulders to help your dog see the serpentines. (See last week's article for more info.)

Thank you for joining us over the course of this series. I hope you found many ways to do this course with your dog. Until next time, 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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