This page is a short introduction to the most common handling cues used in agility when handling a dog. Reading and working on these techniques will not make you an expert handler but will help you understand the terms and give you a better idea of the options you have when running a course. There are many aspects that affect your dog’s performance on an agility course. Most of them, if not all, are you the handler.
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The Front Cross (FC) is a maneuver where the handler changes sides in front of their dog. In other words, if your dog is on your right, after your front cross, your dog will be on your left. When trying to remember what to call a Front Cross remember that you are in front of your dog and can ALWAYS see your dog during the cross. There are many variations of front crosses.
The Front Cross consists of the following properties:
You, the handler, must be ahead of your dog.
You need to perform your change of side before your dog takes off (your dog’s comment) for the first jump in the cross.
Your dog is visible to you during the entire cross.
The footwork for the cross is a simple 3 step turn.The cross is done on an imaginary line that runs from the inside corner of the first obstacle to the outside corner of the next obstacle.
The Front cross always creates a turn between the first 2 obstacles.
The Rear Cross is a movement in which you, the handler, changes sides behind you dog after your dog’s commitment to the second jump in a sequence. The Rear Cross is also known as a back cross or cross-behind.
The Rear Cross has the following properties:
Your dog must move ahead of you.
Your dog is visible to you throughout the cross.
The cross is done on an imaginary line that goes from the inside corner of the first obstacle to the outside corner of the next.
The Rear Cross creates a turn after the second obstacle in the cross line.
The Pole Turn/Shoulder Pull/Pivot Turnis one of the basic agility handling maneuvers. The Pole Turn is used to turn your dog with your dog staying on the same side of you throughout the entire turn. You, the handler, remains in primarily the same location on the course during the turn but you will rotate as your dog turns. The Pole Turn is a technique that can be used in handling 180, 270 and Pin Wheels.
The Reverse Flow Pivot/False Turn/RFP,is used to move your dog towards you when your dog is faced with a choice of 2 active plains. The RFP can be used to get your dog to check in with you and/or to avoid an off course obstacle often when an obstacle discrimination is performed.
A Serpentine (Serp) describes your dog’s path when your dog performs obstacles in a sequence in opposite directions. Many times a Serp is defined as being able to do a Front Cross on both sides of the center obstacle. Most of the time the obstacles are jumps but can be a combination of any three obstacles. The sequence can vary from a straight line to any angled variations of three obstacles. The key feature of the Serp is that your dog is taking each obstacle in the opposite direction from the previous obstacle.
The Threadle describes your dog’s path going between or through two obstacles. Your dog is pulled in between two side-by-side obstacles in order to take the next obstacle in the sequence from the same direction as the previous obstacle. Usually, the obstacles are jumps. Spacing and angles can vary.
The Blind cross violates two cardinal rules of MY agility handling:
Never take your eyes off your dog.
Never let your dog cut around behind you.
A handler performs a blind cross when he changes sides by crossing in front of the dog’s path with his back turned to the dog as the side change occurs. General acceptable on independent obstacles such as contacts and weave poles. Blind crosses cue your dog for extension.
The Ketschker or Asspass The idea is simple, cue your dog for a Reverse Front Cross Jump Wrap and when your dog is committed to the obstacle, look over your other shoulder, step forward and present your other arm, the later part being the Blind Cross. This works well in situations where your dog requires collection cues to get a tight wrap and it is easy on you, the handler (no Front Cross footwork required).