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Cross Your Dog

Check out this great Masters Challenge course, then work on your crosses on a small course segment that you can fit in your training building or yard. By Brenna Fender

On Thursday, June 18, at the 2015 Rocky Mountain Regional, judge Scott Lovelis offered a Masters/Performance Challenge Standard course that has many training opportunities. 

There are several segments of this course that could lead to great training options. You don't have to look farther than the course's opening to get some great training ideas.

Each grid square is 10'x10', so this segment could fit in a 40'x40' training space. It might even fit in your yard! Practice your crosses by handling #1 and #2 off your left, then front cross (turning in to your dog and changing him from, in this case, your left side to your right side in the process) and handle #4 with your dog on your left. It might take you a while to get your timing right. Experiment with the best placement of the cross as well. 

Can you run the same sequence with a blind cross? A blind cross has you changing sides in front of your dog by turning away from the dog. This means your back is toward the dog for a moment and you lose sight of him. Blind crosses tend to maintain speed while front crosses sometimes include collection or a brief check in. This may affect your dog's jumping style and landing position, which means he may be in a different place than you expect on the course. Handle #1 and #2 off the left again but hang back rather than driving forward. After your dog lands after #2, rotate to the right and call your dog in, then turn toward the #3 jump and redirect your dog to take it. Then rotate to the left, calling your dog in to #4. 

Which method of handling results in the fastest, smoothest run for you?

After you master this sequence, renumber it for additional exercises. There are so many great options! Run the same course but take #1 and #2 both from the same side, practicing a threadle (a sequence where the dog is pulled between two jumps to take the second jump from the same side as the first). Then, change #3 to put the number on the other side and try that. 

What else can you try? Run the course backwards. Take #1-#3-#4. Try taking #1 backwards, then #3 and #2. There are so many possibilities that you could set up these three jumps in your work space and train for weeks! Happy training!

Brenna Fender is the editor for USDAA's newsletter, the Overview, and USDAA's news page (among other things). She can be reached at


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