Flatwork Classroom

Why do it?
Flatwork is the foundation of ALL agility handling and has many benefits for you when you are doing agility. Flatwork is the perfect start for your agility training because you can begin with any dog that can follow a treat or toy in your hand. It is ideal for puppies that are too young to jump and for dogs that need to build self-esteem or learn body placement. Your dog will learn to enjoy running with you and responding to your physical cues. In addition, Flatwork  teaches your dog to turn tightly and interpret your body language such as acceleration and deceleration.

Flatwork requires nothing more than you, your dog, and some rewards (treats and/or toys). No agility equipment or agility knowledge is required. In fact, it is important to practice your Flatwork without any agility equipment nearby. You do not want your dog to inadvertently take an obstacle when you do not cue him to do so. The best part about Flatwork is it takes only a few minutes a day to develop a great foundation for your agility dog.

My Flatwork class will teach you everything you need to know about Flatwork. 

Please watch the foundation games, Jump to Hand, Cookie Toss Game and Get It Game before proceeding with this class.

FREE to Members

Just think of all the time your dog is running between obstacles!

Flatwork is easy to teach.  It is also a great way to start your puppy or dog off on the right paw to a successful fun Agility career.

Questions? Click to Email


Flatwork is much like heeling except it is done on both the right and left sides. When trained, your dog will run at your side regardless where you lead. Your dog will not cross in front of or behind you (blind crossing) without your cueing him to do so. Also your dog will stay in position at your side when you accelerate or decelerate.


Level 1 – Teaching Flatwork

***Keep your sessions short and work your dog on both your right and left side.

Start your Flatwork with your dog standing at either your right or left side. Have a leash on your dog,  if needed, and have small bites of food ready for rewards. Food rewards are best at this stage but toys can be used.  Tie the leash around your waist if delivering the food to your dog is a problem.

LEVEL 1:  Building value (desire) for your dog to be at your right or left side.

  • Choose a reward (food treats and/or a toy) that your dog finds very motivating.
  • Start with your dog on your left (you will repeat these exercises on your right as well).
  • Place 3-5 treats in your right hand.
  • While standing still, take a treat from your right hand with your left hand and feed it to your dog.  Feed your dog the treats one at a time and one after the other with your left hand. When the treats are gone, immediately present a toy or treat to your dog and play tug or the “Get It Game” with your dog.
  • Set your dog up on your right side and repeat the sequence holding the treats in your left hand. (Treats will be held in the hand furthest from your dog).
  • Once you take a treat with the hand closest to your dog, consider the treat his.
  • DO NOT hold the treat in the hand closest to your dog at anytime unless you are ready to deliver the treat to your dog.)

Frequently break off and play with your dog. Playing short, little  tug games or the “Get It Game” are perfect stress breaks! Do not worry about an awkward or rough start. Make sure your rate of reinforcement is very high at this stage.

Level 2 – on the Move.

At this level your will be at a walk with your dog on leash. Start out in a slow pace.  Have small bites of high value food treats ready for rewards. (Remember to tie the leash around your waist if necessary).

Have 3-5 treats in your right hand with your dog at your left side. Place a toy under your arm that is on the same side as your dog.

  • Start to slowly move forward feeding your dog EVERY step.
  • Do not lure your dog to be at your side. Give him treats or a toy as a reward for staying in the correct position.
  • When you run out of treats quickly present or drop the toy or another treat and play.
  • Repeat the sequence with your dog on your right side with the treats in your left hand. Releasing and playing with your dog will help build your dog’s drive for being at your side.

When your dog can move with you and stay in position, advance to Level 3.

Level 3 – Trotting and Running.

In Level 3 you will be trotting and running large circles with your dog.  A big open lawn or field is ideal for working on Level 3. Again, do not lure your dog, but give him the treats or toy as a reward for staying in the correct position. Use lots of reinforcement during all three levels of training! (Toys are usually easier to use for reinforcement at this stage.)

Place 5-8 treats in your hand opposite to the side your dog is on.

Start moving in a large circle, generously rewarding your dog for staying at your side and playing every time you run out of treats.

  • Over time, increase the number of steps you take and decrease  the number of treats per step.
  • Keep your sessions short. Release your dog, and take a break often.
  • Gradually increase your speed and the number of steps you take between each reward.
  • Increase your pace so that you are eventually trotting then running in a large circle.
  • Accelerate quickly and reward your dog for accelerating and staying up with you.
  • Decelerate and reward your dog for checking his stride and remaining next to you instead of driving past you. If he does pass you, withhold the reward and start over.

End Goal – For your dog to stay on your left or right side while you move at any pace.

Before progressing to your next class –

Does your DOG?
Remain at your right or left side?
Speed up or slow down when you change pace?

Enjoy teaching Flatwork!

Questions? Click to Email