For those of you that are not agility crazy, a front-cross is when you send the dog to an obstacle, like a jump, and run to get ahead of them so that you can signal a change of direction. A back-cross is similar, but you send the dog to an obstacle and as they do the obstacle, you run behind them and then come up beside them after the obstacle to signal a change of direction. (I have tried to make a little diagram below to help this make sense.) Go is simply a command to the dog that means go in a strait line, as in 'Go Tunnel', meaning go in a strait line from where you are and then go through the tunnel. These are things that I have worked on before, but my dad set up a very tight, intense little course this weekend that really pushed me (and the dogs) to perfect these.
The front-cross is a good one for Holly, because she is a little slower, so I can actually move fast enough to get out ahead of her. The back-cross is a good strategy for Mikey, because he's so fast that I could probably never get ahead of him while running a course. Plus, my dad thinks that doing front-crosses with really fast dogs (like Mikey) is hard on their shoulders, because they have to kind of slam on the brakes when you come out in front of them (which can stress their shoulders), and then pivot on their shoulders to turn with you.
Technically this all sounds fairly simple, but in practice, not so much. This really is more advanced stuff. It takes physical coordination, and careful attention to your dog so that you aren't calling out commands too early or too late. And this takes a lot of work from the dog, because they really have to be paying attention to you, and stay mentally on their toes.
The problem I had doing the front-cross with Holly was that I was getting out ahead of her and calling out the command to change directions too fast, which kept causing her to knock the jump as she went over it, because she was trying to change direction before she had fully left the ground for the jump.
The problem I had doing the back-cross with Mikey is that I wasn't fast enough. I couldn't go behind and then up beside him fast enough to give the command in time for him to know which direction I wanted him to go, resulting in him spinning in a little circle after the jump looking for me and trying to figure out what I wanted him to do.
That's what practice is for. . . I definitely am learning a lot by training two dogs at the same time, especially because they are so different to work with; the strategy for running a course with Holly is almost opposite to the strategy for running a course with Mikey. Yes, definitely learning a lot, but it can be sooo hard on my little brain!
In any case, we all had a great time, and totally enjoyed being outside on an absolutely gorgeous morning. Training with my dad is always fun, because he always has something challenging for us to work on!
Also, I entered Mikey in a supported show here in Houston in mid- March! Remeber, he only needs two more points to finish his comformation title!
Currently reading 'The Virgin's Lover' by Philippa Gregory.
Holly and Mikey say 'Hi'.