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Agility: starting rear crosses

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Whats the best way to start rear crosses? My dog gets really worried when I start moving behind him, especially at speed.


And is it worth it to teach verbal right and left...or better to stick to body language? How would for example, you cue a right turn after the jump from left, and behind, the dog?



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I have always taught left and right (I use back for left and this for right because i tried left and right and buggered it up!) It is in my opinion an essential for agility especially if you have a fast dog who works ahead of you. You can start training it by just throwing the ball to the left or right and giving the appropriate command, then you introduce a low jump and repeat left/right.


When you are attempting your cross-overs throw your ball in the direction you want your dog to go and then try the cross, so that your dog has something else to focus on. This is also where the Go command is invaluable I think. I teach Go, which means that the dog should go in a line from the last obstacle like a sendaway. This allows the dog to gain distance and for you to get into the correct position without the dog backing to you and missing the obstacle or the handler tripping over the dog as I have seen in many cases.


Have fun!

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If you are going to use left and right it's important to teach a rear cross first (at least in my opinion). I usually start teaching a rear cross without any equipment. I teach my dog to run with me by my side (either side) and then do front crosses and rear crosses. Since your dog gets worried at speed you can start out slow, maybe just a trot or even a walk. Then I'll move to equipment. I use a single jump and start just a stride or so before the jump and as the dog goes over the jump I do a rear cross and toss a toy in the direction I want them to go. Also a tunnel set up straight is a great way to practice rear crosses.


Left and right are great to have but not absolutely necessary and I'd say at least 75% of the time the dog is cueing off your body language rather than the directional command. Having solid rear and front crosses is much more important than directionals. (again, just my opinion)

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