Skill Set

Courtesy of Nancy Gyes and Alphabet Drills (available at I’ve come up with the following exercises based on the letter “J”. That being said, this jumping configuration is intended to introduce the Rear Cross to a dog. It’s actually quite an ingenious and effective exercise. Nancy credits the work of Susan Salo in her description of the exercise.

In case it isn’t immediately obvious to you, the sequence of jumps is intended to set the team up for the Rear Cross. Starting from either side the handler would start with dog on right and then Rear Cross the dog coming out of the long stem of the “J”. To get equal work on the ambidextrous skill the sequence of jumps would be set in mirror image.

In case you think I’ve erred in the spacing between jumps either at the top of the “J” or in the pinwheel… this is exactly as Nancy has designed the sequence; demanding a bounce between jumps that are only about 5′ apart.

It is my tradition to beat the Rear Cross out of my Novice students, and then teach it to my Advanced students. This exercise is ideal for the introduction. It is useful for the handler/student to have experienced eyes on his movement to help with subtle mechanics which might spoil the introduction.

Mixing Thing Up a Bit

Moving one of the jumps in the upper handle of the “J” opens some interesting handling options. In this sequence the handler still uses the Rear Cross at jump #6. Drawing the dog in a tight right turn at jump #7 opens jumps #8 and #9 into a flat two-jump serpentine.

It’s easy enough to incorporate other obstacles into this jumping sequence and still get a good workout on building the Rear Crossing skill. You’ll note that it’s a different exercise for a dog jumping 12″ than it is for a dog jumping 26″. In addition to fortifying the handling skill (Rear Crossing) the dog gets a workout in collected jumping in the two ends of the “J”; while learning to open up his stride on the flat in the stem of the “J”.


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. I have five volumes (over 100 pp each) of The Joker’s Notebook available on my web-store at an inexpensive price. These are lesson plans suitable for individual or group classes for teaching dog to work at a distance.


One Response to “Skill Set”

  1. Erica Says:

    Love it! A great tune up tool, too. Can’t wait to set it up.

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