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From the Ground Up: Agility Foundation Training for Puppies and Beginner Dogs - Part 5

The fifth of a multi-part series featuring a chapter from the book, "From the Ground Up: Agility Foundation Training for Puppies and Beginner Dogs."

In this section, we'll also discuss footwork for a wrap. A wrap is not a cross. There is no change of side as the dog starts on the left hand and finishes on the left hand. However, it's a useful basic handling maneuver when the handler wants the dog to turn very tightly around the jump standard or wing.

I teach the front cross, rear cross and wrap on the flat before we do any equipment. Handlers should first learn the footwork without their dogs. It helps the handler understand and execute the footwork properly. Once they have it on the flat alone they can add in the dog. Once the handler and dog can do it on the flat we move to using just one jump. The footwork cues help the handler communicate with the dog quickly and effectively.

Front Cross Footwork

A front cross can be done on the take-off side or the landing side of a jump. It can also be a counter rotation. A counter rotation is when the dog does a 180-degree turn around the jump standard.

1. Start with the dog on your left side in a sit, facing the same way you are, and place a toy or target behind and between you.

2. Step back with the leg closest to the dog - in this case your left leg - and turn to face the toy. This first step back will eventually become the dog's cue that you want him to turn towards you and respond to the front cross.

3. Your body will open up to your dog which is a natural invitation for him to look at you. The dog should turn towards you.

4. Step through with your other foot - in this case the right foot - and point it at the toy as you tell your dog to "get it." The dog should end up on your right side.

5. When you and the dog can do steps 1 to 4 smoothly, repeat the steps with the dog starting on your right.

Rear Cross Footwork

1. Start with the dog on your left side in a sit, facing the same way you are.

2. Place the toy beside and slightly behind the dog's left side.

3. Using the foot closest to the dog - in this case your left foot - step in front of the dog. The dog should turn away from you, towards his left to where he knows the toy is waiting for him. When you step in front, try to be close enough to block the dog from turning in towards you. You can place the toy in such a spot that the dog can literally stare at the toy with his head away from you to start. Then put the toy farther around the dog so that the turn is more dramatic. Then wait for the dog to look back at you before you release to the toy. Eventually, this step in front of the dog should cue the dog to turn away from you.

4. When the dog completes the turn, step in behind the dog with your right foot and say "get it." The dog should finish on your right side. 

5. When you and the dog can do steps 1 to 4 smoothly, repeat the steps with the dog starting on your right. 

Stay tuned for the final part, part six coming on our next Training Thursday, March 3rd!

If you missed the previous parts, you can find them here:

This chapter is reprinted with kind permission of Dogwise Publications. Dogwise has provided a discount code for USDAA! Use code USDAA for 10% of this book and others.

Kim Collins has lived with dogs all her life and has been training dogs professionally since 1992. After starting with competitive obedience, Kim quickly discovered the growing sport of agility in 1995. Kim went on to win the 2000 USDAA National Agility Championship with her Shetland Sheepdog, Piper, and three Canadian National Agility Championships, two with Piper and one with her Border Collie, Feyd. Kim has also won seven Regional Agility Championships with three different dogs. Kim and her two Border Collies, Bryn and Feyd, were members of the Agility Association of Canada's 2004 IFCS Canadian World Team and traveled to Valencia, Spain to compete.


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