Teaching skills using a single obstacle

I was at the barn today, working with Rush, and talking to Deena about methods used to train single obstacles. We were talking about the broad jump but the method applies to any obstacle.

Once the basic training of the obstacle is done, then you work on the foundation obstacle skills:

Front cross to the obstacle (to the left and to the right)
Front cross after the obstacle
Rear cross to the obstacle (to the left and to the right)
Rear cross after the obstacle
Lateral distance on either side of the obstacle (especially for weaves, teeter, dogwalk, and a-frame)
Completing the obstacle correctly if the handler is behind (especially for the weaves, teeter, dogwalk, and a-frame)
Completing the obstacle correctly if the handler is ahead (ditto)
If appropriate: blind cross before or after the obstacle
Ketscher maneuver (described here) to the obstacle and from the obstacle
Do discriminations: obstacle to left turn, obstacle to right turn, obstacle to next obstacle straight ahead
For appropriate obstacles (jumps, weaves, tunnels), do backside entries
Move laterally away from the obstacle if it’s appropriate, as in contacts, tunnels, and weaves

For jumps: there are all sorts of things to practice with jumping. There’s straight-ahead, full speed; collected jump to prepare for a 90-degree turn (with a front cross or rear cross or just a same-side turn); wrap to either side (and that can be managed with the handler making a front cross, full turn, or a Ketscher); push to backside of the jump. There are threadles and serpentines to the next jump.

Make sure you practice tunnel/dogwalk and tunnel/aframe discriminations. The Ketscher is really useful for pulling the dog in tight for discriminations. A discrimination that is rare but also rarely trained is when the tunnel is on the near side of the contact obstacle. I’ve seen a tunnel-aframe discrimination where the tunnel runs straight next to the a-frame.

Debbie has a lot of rules, but her rule with any obstacle is “cue the obstacle and get on to the next obstacle.”

For example:
You’ve trained the dogwalk. Now, train front crosses to the dogwalk, from both sides. Train rear crosses to the dogwalk, from both sides. Run slowly so that dog has to go ahead to the end of the dogwalk with you behind (dog on left, dog on right); handle an obstacle that is closer than the end of the dogwalk. Run fast so that you’re ahead of the dog and signaling the next obstacle but the dog still has to perform to criteria (dog left, dog right). Run ahead and blind cross to the next obstacle. Run ahead and front cross to the next obstacle. Move laterally. In all of these: make sure that the dog is meeting criteria!

One thought on “Teaching skills using a single obstacle

  1. Deena

    Oh my, do I have a lot of basic handling drills in my future! And now I have a list of how to approach training in a complete, safe and solid format. Thanks Diana!

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