Can You Front Cross?

The first rule of Boot Camp is… no fast dog handling. That means I’ll insist that the handler find a way to place all of his movements forward of the dog and pulling. The dilemma will be how to get this done with a truly fast dog?

In my teaching I spend considerable time with how to make a speed transition. That means slipping from slow dog handling into fast dog handling; or visa reversa as the case might be. The conditions that dictate a speed transition will either be that either the dog has surpassed the handler’s position while doing slow dog handling or the handler has gotten in front of his dog while doing fast dog handling.

But there you go. The first rule of Boot Camp says that we won’t be making any speed transitions at all. The handler will find a way to stay forward of the dog.

Don’t get me wrong here. There’s nothing wrong with fast dog handling at all. Indeed, it is a necessary tool for… the fast dog. My students must solve the intellectual puzzle and learn to attack the course. We will not fall into the lines of the fast dog handler just to be lazy or slothful.

Oh this seems such a departure from the distance curriculum that we’ve had to endure for the past six months or so. Now in a sudden paradigm shift we have to learn lickety split how to be a savvy and keen technical handler.

So here’s the first puzzle of the day. For the handler of a truly fast dog coming out of a Front Cross between jumps #2 and #3 forward of the dog enough to put in yet another Front Cross between jumps #4 and #5. Now, try to imagine one more Front Cross between jumps #10 and #11.


The question is ever, how does a human beat a dog in a foot race? The truth of it is… we cheat. Absolutely even with a good cheat in this sequence the handler will be racing the dog. But we’ll have to use the available real estate in prudent manner calculated to get there handler where he needs to be when he needs to be there.

The opening cheat is a parallel path lead-out. The handler shifts to the side to take a line perfectly parallel to the dogs. This is a know-thy-dog kind of opening. The handler needs a pretty good grasp of how far forward on his line he has to be before giving a release to the dog. This is not a lead-out that will allow the handler to stop at any time because the forward movement is what communicates the opening line to the dog. If the handler stops the line goes away.

Note that the handler arrives somewhat past the wing of jump #5 because he’ll need room to move and give pressure to jump #3 (red figures) without getting very far away from jump #5 at all. Next the handler will curl around the jump – moving parallel to the dog at a distance and draw into a Front Cross as the dog commits over jump #4 (blue figures).

Now the handler draws the dog around on Post for jumps #7 through #10. The Post Turn is speed neutral, meaning that it is neither fast dog nor slow dog handling.

The tricky appears to be the pinwheel. In fact it is a measurable phenomenon that the farther ahead the dog gets in a pinwheel the farther ahead the handler will be as it closes. So in this drawing (red figures) the handler supports the dog’s long path with his considerably shorter path, drawing up to the landing side of jump #11 for a layered Front Cross.


It should not escape your notice that solid distance skills are prerequisite to this bold slow dog handling plan. The lateral path lead-out is intuitive to the majority of dogs in our sport, though sometimes a dog’s keenness to work at a lateral distance is spoilt by early clingy training and insistence that the dog work literally in the handler’s shadow.

The own the pinwheel training program for the dog is fairly critical so that the handler isn’t forced to step into the pinwheel to tap out each jump and give each bit focus in order for the dog to succeed. But these are basic distance skills.

It would be nice for the handler to own an quick and elegant Front Cross as well. The Front Cross is too often in our sport a wild flapping of arms attended by misdirected movement and slow presentation of direction. One bad Front Cross in a sequence like this can spoil the whole thing if the dog’s speed is of any consequence at all.

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

This is a four-part question. Jim Nabors starred in a popular television series on CBS in the 1960s that was a spin-off from another popular show. What was the name of the show? What was the name of the show from which it spun off? What was the name of the movie from the late 1950’s that inspired the series? Finally… who starred in that movie?

First correct answer, posted as a reply to this blog post, wins a free copy of the June Jokers Notebook.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: Check out my latest publication the Jokers Notebook ~ Dog Agility Distance Training Plan – June 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store: . Readers of my web log get a discount: Enter “special05” in the box for the discount code. And that will take $5.00 off the price of the order.

6 Responses to “Can You Front Cross?”

  1. Linda Says:

    1. Gomer Pyle, USMC
    2. The Andy Griffith Show
    3. No Time For Sergeants
    4. Andy Griffith

  2. Kim Says:

    Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C, was a spin off of The Andy Griffith Show, which was inspired by the movie No Time for Sergeants and starred Andy Griffith.

  3. Linda Says:

    Thanks, Bud!

  4. Karissa Says:

    I set up this exercise to play with in my yard on Saturday. I was pleasantly surprised that I was actually able to do your “slow dog handling” with all three of my dogs. I went through two years of trialing doing no more front crosses than you can count on one hand (honestly, I’m serious!) — it took me a long time to get comfortable with doing front crosses. Really, only when our distance work was solid, was I really able to get into a good position for the fronts. Boy did that tighten up our times.

    I also ran this sequence using all rear crosses. My big dog was much happier, which tells me what I need to work on. 🙂 With the front cross, I found he really wanted to blow me off from 2 to 3 and would zip straight across and grab the back side of 5/7.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: