Week 3 of the Agility Course

Changing Direction

Taking part in weeks 1 & 2’s lesson plans, you will have run in one direction.

To change your dog’s direction, handlers do a manoeuvre, called a cross.

A ‘front cross’ is a handling skill where you get ahead of your dog and turn, plus change your driving arm so that the dog changes which side they are to you. 

This gives us the ability to move in a clockwise and anticlockwise direction on an agility course.


How week 3’s session works:

Crosses look and feel great when they’ve been practised to the point that they flow, but while learning the footwork, can feel a bit tricky. This is where practice makes perfect!

Step One: Practice at a walking pace

You can see Luna practicing this step of the ‘front cross’ training in the short clip below 👇

A short video showing Luna doing a front cross
  1. Have your dog on your left.
  2. Hold one reward (food or toy) in each hand.
  3. Use the hand closest to your dog (left) to lure them a few steps forward.
  4. To do a front cross:
    • Turn towards your left arm and dog.
    • Swap to luring them with your right arm
  5. Walk a few steps back in the direction you came from

    Your dog has stayed on the same line, but the arm you handle them with switches.


    Step Two: Practice on a figure of 8

    In class, I will show you how to develop this into some simple figures of 8 drills that practice the new skill using a combination of posts/jumps.

    Front Cross on half a figure of 8 pattern

    Finally, we will put it into practice on a jump sequence that may include a tunnel, where we will start with easy turns and progress to sharper ‘crosses’.

    You will lead using one arm, get ahead of your dog and turn and swap to use your other arm so the dog switches which side they are.


        How to practice dog agility at home: 

        You can practice the figure of 8 drill at home using any obstacle that your dog can circle, for example, a post in the ground, a chair, or a large flowerpot to practice a front cross and the ‘go round’ cue.*

        *A ‘go round’ is where the dog goes around to the back side of a jump and takes off the opposite side than they were previously travelling. 

        Below is the 4-stage process of training a ‘go round’ cue.

        Lure. Fade lure. Add cue (“go round”). Add distance (few steps away)

         4 stages of teaching go round

        Did you know?

        Figure of 8, front cross exercise:

        1. Have your dog on your left, obstacle ahead.
        2. Point with your left hand and say go round.
        3. As your dog finishes their clockwise circle around the obstacle, to do a front cross:
          • Turn towards your left arm and dog.
          • Swap to handle them with your right arm.
        4. With your dog on your right, point with your right hand and say go round.
        5. As your dog finishes their anticlockwise circle around the second obstacle you can reward and finish, or repeat the steps above

        a diagram of the figure of 8 exercise

        Join the Pack: 

        If you haven’t already, you might like to join our other training members in the Private Facebook Group for Anglian Dog Works. 

        Along with general updates, I will also be using this group to share any photos taken during sessions and would love for you to share your success in the form of stories, photos and videos too. Posts are only visible to other members of the group (The Training Team & I love to see them too!).


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        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 across my two venues in Balsham and Barton, near Cambridge.

        Disclaimer: The 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