The Back Pass

It has been a few days since I’ve left any homework for the upcoming distance seminar at Canine Manners in Broken Arrow, OK. I expect that everyone who has decided to do any homework has been working with a pretty full dance card.

The Back Pass

Let’s add something simple to the dance card. I would like to teach my dog a “Back Pass”. While this might not immediately seem to be a “distance” skill; I promise to make the case with a rational argument later in our curriculum.

The Back Pass is a simple concept. The handler teaches the dog to circle around his body. This may at first blush seem like a Blind Cross, but it’s not a handler movement at all. It is a skill taught to the dog and might later be interchangeable with the Blind Cross.

Obedience handlers sometimes teach a Back Pass as a finishing movement to bring the dog to heel position. Of course obedience handlers are sided where agility handlers are ambidextrous. So the agility handler must teach both a clockwise and a counter-clockwise Back Pass as distinctly different performances.

This skill is ridiculously easy to train. I’ll share with you the introductory steps:

You’ll note that the command that I’m using is “Come By” which has surely spoiled my herding career. The command means for the dog to circle around my body in a clock-wise direction or, to be precise Come By way of the clock.

This second training session was only a day or two after the first. So you can see that it doesn’t take very long.

For circling counter-clockwise I use the verb “Switch”. It doesn’t really matter what words you use for the Back Pass, so long as you keep them straight for yourself. Please be aware that you may begin with an arm signal to supplement the verbal… but the arm signal must be faded as soon as possible.

I’ll leave you with a video from NDAL league play. This is Brenda Gilday with her dog Leela running in the January 2017 50×70 Fast and Fun League. Brenda and Leela, by my count, do the Back Pass no fewer than four times.

Notes Aside

This is an ongoing series intended as homework for Canine Manners distance seminar students; March 20 and 21 2017 in Broken Arrow, OK, (and others interested in training great distance skills who might visit these pages).

I promise new homework tomorrow!


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston The web store is up and running. You’ll find in the web store The Joker’s Notebook, an invaluable reference for teaching an agility dog (and his handler) to work a distance apart.


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