Notes on the Tandem Turn

The illustrations here come from a course designed by AKC judge Linda Robertson, and run in Grove City, OH on April 15, 2006.

Note that the Tandem turn is a type of Back Cross/Rear Cross. It is a cross behind the dog on the landing side of a jump, or on the dismount of a technical obstacle, or a cross behind the dog in that expanse of real estate between the obstacles that we typically refer to as the flat.

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I work hard to teach my students a powerful instinct for the Tandem Turn. It is almost always a better handling option that the Back Cross. Since the handler supports the dog through the jump there will be far fewer dropped bars and refusals. And, the dog being surprised by the change of directions and consequently turning the wrong direction is eliminated almost entirely.

But it’s also important to understand the attributes of this particular movement. The Tandem Turn tends to drift wider than a Back Cross and so (like the Blind Cross) should be avoided in the presence of an option (a course that makes more sense to the dog than the one the judge actually numbered).

An important attribute of the Tandem is that it accelerates the dog away from the handler’s position, allowing separation. Consequently it’s a great movement for distance work. I’ve earned a number of Masters Gamblers legs in the USDAA using the Tandem turn to create initial separation.

In a standard course the handler can use distance to gain an advantage in real estate, a pre-positioning that allows the handler to solve technical challenges.

Note that the handler after the Tandem in this example keeps focus on the pipe tunnel. After the turn, as the dog accelerates away and separates from the handler’s position, the handler continues to face the entry to the pipe tunnel and continues to move in that direction (albeit with a shortened stride).

The Layered Tandem

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Let’s back up in the course just a bit where there was another opportunity for a Tandem Turn. But this one is a more advanced Tandem for a dog with a good work ethic that completely understands the handler’s signal for the Tandem.

In this particular passage handlers were so concerned with the dog’s possible focus on the wrong-course pipe tunnel that most stepped in to micro-manage the dog’s turn from jump #6 to jump #7. A common error with the fast and long striding dog was caused by the handler circling around jump #6 tended to forge their dogs wide, causing a refusal at jump #7. These jumps are set very close together. Other handlers chose slow dog handling, which means that they pushed for a Front Cross on the landing side of jump #5 in order to micro-manage the dog through the sequence.

The illustration shows an advanced movement that we call a layered Tandem. The handler actually shows the signal for the Tandem but doesn’t actually circle around the jump and stays on the opposite side of the jump at which the signal was given.

There were a half dozen layered Tandems on judge Linda Robertson’s JWW course. All of these were by students who train at Dogwood. My students rock!

Note that the Tandem is not a arm signal only. This is my training mantra. It is arm signal, verbalization, rotation, step, and acceleration. The handler must remember that the whole body communicates to the dog.

Open Jumpers Debacle

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Well, what can you say? There weren’t very many qualifiers on this course because of the old weave pole/tunnel discrimination. The really tough part about it is the two spread hurdles (double and triple in AKC parlance) that accelerate the dog toward the challenge making the handler try to solve the moment with his dog working at full speed.

I actually got my girl Desi into the weave poles without mishap (over half the class took the wrong course)… however she took to sniffing, lost connection with me and so I didn’t bother to make the correction. I ran on to finish the course.

Naturally, in these days of well nested courses, the equipment was set the same for the Excellent class. Oh, except for them the pipe tunnel was the next correct obstacle after the triple. That makes perfect sense, right?

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Questions, comments, and impassioned speeches to: BudHouston@hughes.net.

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