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Training Exercises: Practicing Pressure to Direct Your Dog

Elizabeth Dott shows how to experiment with "pressure" in these exercises. 

USDAA often posts courses from events. This serves many purposes, including offering you a jumping-off point for a variety of training exercises and different course layouts. For the next few weeks, I will be sharing exercises that are taken from the 2014 IFCS Continental Championship of the Americas Jumping Biathlon course layout.  

I broke the course down and renumbered it into segments for training. What's nice about this is that you can set up the entire course in your yard and, after you are finished training on it, you can renumber and work different skills without moving any equipment. Or, you can simply set up the segment and run several exercises on it. Today's segments fit in a 100'x50'space, which might help those who need to work indoors this time of year.

Please notice that the double jump has been reversed in the exercises below.

Exercise #1


After #2, the dog is turning right and taking the triple jump in a pinwheel. Later, in the second exercise, the dog is coming in and not taking the triple jump (see below). So let's discuss the best way to tell our dogs what we want. If I want my dog to go out and take the triple jump, I will apply what I call "pressure." Pressure is when you use your energy and body to propel your dog away from you. I like to explain it like this: if you were standing and talking to someone and they kept getting closer and closer to you in your space, you would naturally move away from them or it would get quite uncomfortable. It is the same with our dogs. If you use your arm straight out to your side and your body and you lean into their space, it will cause the dog to drive out away from you. Use this in the first exercise to show your dog you want them to go out to the triple jump.  


Once your dog has done the pinwheel, use a post turn (turn in place with your dog on the outside) and keep the dog on your left through #5. There are a few ways to do the spread jump and turn into the tunnel. You could pull your dog towards the correct end of the tunnel, staying on the right with dog on left. However, on this side, your dog still sees the wrong end of the tunnel and if you pull to soon, your dog could cut through the spread jump. The second way is to use a front or blind cross (getting in front of your dog and turning into or away from him, changing sides) after the spread to turn your dog to the correct side of the tunnel. Your motion forward should keep your dog driving forward over the spread so he does not cut through.



Because the tunnel entrance is in the middle of jump #8, again use some pressure to push your dog out to jump 8. This can be done using motion and shoulders. Once your dog is lifting for obstacle #8, bring your turning arm (your left hand) up and turn the dog to the left to wrap around #8 and out to jump #9.

Exercise #2


In exercise two, you want to remove pressure to keep your dog from taking the off-course spread jump. Drop your arm and stay behind jump #2, moving laterally between jump #2 and #3.


Once your dog has turned from #2 to #3, keep him on your left to drive out to the tunnel at obstacle #6.


Once your dog is in the #6 tunnel, blind or front cross, putting your dog on your left for jump #7 and the right turn to jump #8.

In both exercises, keep in mind that different dogs react differently to pressure from their handlers, so practice to determine how much pressure your dog needs and does not need for each exercise. 

So how many other things can you find to do with this half of the course? Stay tuned next week for some fun exercises for the other half of the 2014 IFCS Continental Championship of the Americas Jumping Biathlon course.

This article is part of USDAA's Training Tuesday series that is appearing on USDAA's facebook page. We encourage you to discuss this exercise 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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