a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Rear Crosses A-B-C

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Rear Crosses A-B-C

SUMMARY: Wendy Pape's ABC method of rear crosses

Both Wendy Pape and Mary Ellen Barry got a a chance to teach us more about how to handle rear crosses, and it's all about the direction of your hips. (In fact, LOTS of stuff this weekend was about the direction of your hips, and I'm sure there are plenty of punchlines for that if one cared to use them.)

I've known for a long time that your goal as a handler is to try to make your own most efficient path through a course. So, for example, in the following diagram, your line should be essentially a straight line down the center of the jumps, not veering left or right to push or pull the dog. But how best to indicate the dog's direction?

The basic steps are these:
  1. Face your hips towards the far side of the desired obstacle (point "A") until the dog decides to take the obstacle. ("Deciding" being that the dog is looking at it and starting to head that way.)
  2. Then direct your hips to the side of the obstacle closest to you (point "B")--on jumps, that would be the upright that the dog would wrap around--until the dog commits to the obstacle. ("Commit" being the point at which there is nothing you can do to prevent the dog from taking the obstacle--varies by dog and by obstacle type.)
  3. Then direct your hips at the far side of the next obstacle (point "C"). If you're doing a double rear cross as in this example, the "C" of the first cross becomes the "A" of the next cross.

During this time, you never stop moving forward, AND you probably don't use your arms; the signal for a rear cross should be that you are crossing behind the dog (and the direction of your hips.)

The other thing to note is that you should never turn your hips beyond A, because that starts to get into the range of the dog following you past the jump, not taking the jump.

This made a lot of sense and seemed to work very well, but needs some practice to keep it smooth. I apparently tend to jerk myself from one direction to the next, and although it needs to be quick, it also needs to be a smooth transition as you keep running forward. Something for *me* to practice.

Added info (April 26, 3:30 p.m. PDT): I remembered the discussion as being about pointing your hips. Now, having discussed it with a couple of other camp attendees, they have it variously as "point your shoulders" and "imagine a laser beam coming straight out of your navel--point that." So now you know.

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