A Secret Weapon for Distance Work

Wouldn’t it be sweet to have a movement in your repertoire that creates acceleration and increases the real estate (distance) between the dog and handler? Such a movement exists. I call it the Tandem Turn. I’ve put Masters Gamblers titles on several dogs using the Tandem Turn to introduce the gamble. It has always been my most important tool for the gamblers class.

The Devil’s in the Details


This is a bit of an introduction to the Tandem. In this scenario we’re looking for a modest separation between the dog and handler to get the dog out the A‑frame while the handler works a short distance away.

Truly, the devil’s in the details. I’ll make a short list here.

  • Note that the handler arrives at the turning jump at the precise instant as the dog and will make the cue to turn away as the dog is in the air over the jump.
  • The handler steps behind the dog, not in front.
  • While I’ve drawn the handler figure using a counter-arm signal an inside-arm signal is more natural to most dogs. However, the inside arm signal doesn’t bring in your outside shoulder as the counter-arm signal does… so you’ll have to bring around your own outside shoulder when using the inside arm.
  • Note the red line showing the handler’s path. It stays focused forward on the approach to the A-frame until the dog has his feet on the obstacle. Only then can the handler turn and address the path parallel to the dog.

Something a little more advanced


If we move the containment line back to the handler’s side of the first two jumps the exercise is considerably more advanced. Note that the rules of movement are essentially the same as when the handler could step fully around the jump. Consider these additional notes on execution:

  • The handler approaches the turning point at a lateral distance from the dog. This gives the handler room to move and convince the dog into the turn.
  • I had not intended to skip by focus on the jump in the easier version of this exercise. But the handler’s movement in that exercise pretty much suggested the performance of the jump. In this case, however, the handler must (in the red transition line) keep focus first on the jump and then on to the A-frame.

The Week Ahead

This week will pretty much be a series of private lessons. I have about 14 hours scheduled through Friday. This will give me time to do a few chores around the property and to catch up on some other work (like reviewing TDAA courses) that’s been stacking up on me.

I hope also to get in a few hours (each day) training Kory. While we were at the Hampton up in Exton PA I taught him a “Come By” command. What this means is that he should circle clockwise to my left side… nothing more than that. It’s unlike a “Heel” however, because I have no intention of causing him to stop when he comes up on my hip.

In the next few days I will also teach him “Way to Me” which means he should circle me counter-clockwise to come up on my right side. I’ll allow you to use your imagination as to the application of these two commands in agility. I can think of some right smart applications.

A Tribute to Shifty Powers




Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: BudHouston@hughes.net. And Check out my latest publication the Just For Fun Agility Notebook #30 available at www.dogagility.org/store.


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