"Fan Work": Guide 1

"Fan Work": Guide 1

Get Started in Dog Agility at Home. Guide 1: Fan work foundations, luring around four posts arranged in a circle.

Fan work is where four jumps are arranged in a circle. The handler stands in the centre and with the arm closest to the dog out, they guide the dog around the fan.

According to Kennel Club Agility Rules obstacles are 5-10m apart; this means that on a course the fan can be quite a large circle that can require advanced handling and skill.

Source: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/events-and-activities/agility/new-to-agility/agility-course-obstacles/ 

So, in our dog agility classes for beginners, we break this skill down into smaller steps. This sets the dogs up to succeed. Helping them rehearse success means they're more likely to succeed as we advance the difficulty of the exercises.

In dog training, there's a principle called “The 3-D’s” which means we can progress exercises by changing distance, duration, and distraction.

In our agility classes near Cambridge, it is our training approach to start with low distraction: just jump wings arranged in a small circle, no poles. As the agility course for beginners progresses, we gradually increase the size of the circle (distance). Then, finally, add in poles to make jumps part of the sequence (distraction).


How to practice dog agility at home: Fan work, Task 1


What: stand in the centre of a circle of poles upright in the ground, use your hand closest to the dog to hold a lure and guide them around a complete circle.

TIP: angle the poles inwards towards you, this will encourage the dog to go around the outside as it will be difficult for them to duck underneath to take the inside line! 

Why: This exercise teaches the dogs to follow your outstretched arm, circling loosely left or right, and that doing so earns them a reward


1. The handler stands in the middle of the circle.  

2. The handler holds the reward in one hand and uses it as a lure to guide the dog around the circle. 

The lure can be a piece of a high-value food like chicken held between your finger and thumb, or a toy balled up in your hand. 

3. Say ‘good’ and reward by giving them the lure when the dog goes past the second wing. 

4. With each success, lure them past an additional wing before saying ‘good’ and rewarding. 

5. Keep practising until the dog can go past all four wings before getting a food reward. 

6. Repeat on the other side so that you have practised moving clockwise and anticlockwise. 


- Make the exercise easier by moving the poles closer in so it is a smaller circle. 

+ Make the exercise harder by saying 'left' or 'right' while your dog is circling so they start to learn their verbal cue  


Goal to achieve: Practice until your dog can complete a full circle (set out with poles in the ground) in both directions following a food or toy lure to develop their 'Fan work' foundations.


About the author:

Hi 👋 I’m Emma, accredited as a professional dog trainer by the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT). I help owners of energetic dogs achieve the dog-owning life they envisioned by providing robust obedience & agility training for dogs in Balsham, near Cambridge.

DisclaimerThe content of this article does not include personalised advice and is for information purposes only. If you need individual advice or other enquiries please click here to get in contact or if you're not local to Anglian Dog Works, you can find a trainer in your area by going to the IMDT website: https://www.imdt.uk.com/find-a-qualified-imdt-trainer


Please share your questions and progress: 

We would love to see how you get on with your dog’s introduction to place boards. For tips from our trainer and to share success post your pictures and videos in the Anglian Dog Works Facebook group. https://www.facebook.com/angliandogworks 

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