Training "Pull Throughs"
a “Pull through” is a term used in dog agility when your dog takes two obstacles in the same direction by being called through the gap between two jumps after they land ‘Jump 1’ so that they can be directed onto ‘Jump 2’.
When doing a pull through, the handler momentarily turns and changes the ‘driving arm’ / arm closest to the dog to fake a change in direction which gathers the dog between the obstacles to create a turn.
In this exercise, handlers’ can practice this shoulders movement as their arms cross their body to throw out a treat side to side; this will coincide with the dogs moving in front of them, following the thrown treat.
This practice teaches dogs to watch body language as a cue for a direction change.
We can use this handling move to change direction on course, as well as in everyday life for example showing dogs which direction you want to take down a split in the path.
How to practice dog agility at home:
Handlers stand in a central position with the dog in front.
In class, set out two posts either side 1m away, on walks, imagine these points.
A long lead or long line can be used and put underfoot to have both hands free.
Have a handful of treats ready to toss.
1. Without the dog, practice a fake throw, underarm to 1m away
2. Throw to the posts using the arm furthest from the post so that shoulders turn to indicate a change of direction to the dogs
3. Now with the dog, throw out the food to the post allow the dog to get it
4. When the dog has eaten that piece, throw the next piece out to the other post
Step Two: Add movement.
Repeat as in ‘step one’ but when each piece of food lands, take one step forwards, so when the dog looks up, the handler is further forward.
Step Three: Add a verbal cue.
When the dog looks up, say ‘this way’ as they turn. Pairing the verbal with the action of them turning onto the next piece of thrown food teaches them the dog what ‘this way’ means.
Step Four: Test the verbal cue.
On a walk, wait until the dog mooches off in the opposite direction, say ‘this way’. Say good as they turn, and reward by throwing out a treat,
Goal to achieve: Practice until your dog turns when you say ‘this way’ so that we can use this cue when running an agility course to pull a dog through the gap between two jumps. In class, we progress pull-throughs on a course from a simple staggered pull through, right up to a straight line.