A Rear Crossing Training Suite

The Rear Cross is about the most technical simplex movement in agility. The bottom line on the movement is that it’s fraught[1] with peril. It is a movement that appears to appeal to the logic of the very novice player in dog agility. The novice handler will persistently cling to the movement as a routine tool in spite of the fact that it will result NQ and disaster so often.

So it is my custom to beat the Rear Cross out of my novice students and then teach it to my advanced students.

The Preamble

All of the exercises in this suite will begin with this four jump sequence which will serve as a preamble to the continuing sequence. At jumps #1, 2 and 3 the handler is required to Rear Cross the dog.

Note that this can be tedious and slightly oppressive as the real estate for handler movement is constrained while the dog is required to move in a more robust path; and so if the dog requires input from the handler’s movement for basic motive and direction his response might be less than enthusiastic. That is the nature of the Rear Cross. It is behind and pushing, by definition fast dog handling.

Forward Chain

Back Crossing the dog at a long jump seems risky, to be sure; though it’s useful to remember that all skills are earned (or deserved) through training and practice. Certainly this is less of a “counterintuitive” exercise than the long jump in obedience in which the handler is required to stand still like a stump in the swamp and face the wrong direction.

I’m very interested in a pre-cue turning directive here. So I’ll want to give the “Jump Right!” directive while he’s on the approach to the long jump. If all else fails I can do a bit of dog training here and give him lavish reward (a game of tug, as it were, with a big long sherpa snake with a tennis ball head) for clearing the span of the long jump while rolling diligently into the turn.

We’ll continue forward-chaining the sequence to include a Back Cross at the weave poles. The handler has a compelling interest in getting on the dog’s left side for the sharp turn to the double-bar hurdle after the weave poles. We could accomplish this with a Front Cross after the tire… but then, we wouldn’t be practicing our Back Crosses.

Note that this Back Cross should be as unobtrusive as possible. The handler should usher the dog past his position and then slide up on the dog’s left shoulder before the dog is aware that the handler has crossed at all.


Last weekend in Milwaukee… watching a field of 25 fast and well-trained Border Collies and their handlers, it strikes me that among them I’ll be just another face in the crowd (and not a particularly pretty one). Those things that distinguish the team, in such a field, include: athletic prowess; training foundation; technical execution; and boldness.

The boldness bullet is uppermost in my thinking. I got a good look at Diane Sanders on the weekend; a woman who is apparently a top player in the Milwaukee area. What really differentiated her from most of the field is that she doesn’t engage in “survival” handling. She’s all attack and damn the torpedoes.

I’d like to say that I teach a bold attack style of agility. In truth you can’t teach boldness. It is a state of mind. When teaching I will almost always show how to attack a sequence. It is ever the second and unconsidered option.

The key to aggressive play is trusting the dog and releasing him to work; inserting the handler only in those small rare moments of controlled direction; and then getting the hell out of the dog’s way. I’ll tell my students stop handling; stop talking; don’t sit on the dog. How is such advice translated into practical strategy and movement? How does it become a style of play?

This weekend (as I write this) I’m in Boise, ID judging USDAA. I fell out of bed early in the morning to compose this note. I’m sure to share with you some of the fun we have on the weekend. It promises to be a grueling thing (for the judge) as there are something like 12 classes a day which means I have to work my arse off so that it’s not a long and tedious day of course building and lollygagging. I’m hoping I have a cracker jack course building crew.

Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest

When I travel I often see the abbreviation “LPF” in the airport. What does it mean? And what other abbreviation usually accompanies it?

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston BudHouston@hughes.net. The Country Dream web store is up and running. www.dogagility.org/newstore.

[1] Fraught ~ full of: full of or accompanied by problems, dangers, or difficulties


4 Responses to “A Rear Crossing Training Suite”

  1. Rose Says:

    I haven’t seen Diane run for a year or more, but she and her dogs give 120% to every run. It is both exhilarating and exhausting to watch them run.

  2. deborahauer Says:

    LPF = Lowest Practical Fare
    BFOD = Best Fare of the Day

    But darned if I can figure out where you are seeing either of those abbreviations. This one was truly Google Proof. I have a friend who works in the aviation industry and who travels a lot – and neither of us are sure that this answer is right.

    • budhouston Says:

      I guess this means I win this one.

      LPF means Liters Per Flush, usually accompanied by the acronym GPF. Next guess, where do you suppose I see this?


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