From Cheryl May, (

Just a few quick hints if you're new to brace.

First, you need to decide whether to use a coupler to hook the dogs together. If you use a coupler for heeling, you must use a coupler for all remaining exercises. This means that on the recall, if the dogs don't get up at the same moment, they will both receive a correction -- the quick responding dog gets jerked backwards and the slow responding dog gets jerked forward. For this reason, you may want to show your dogs uncoupled.

You *can* train for the recall with coupled dogs, just do lots of very short recalls and motivation for the slower dog. The dogs do get corrected, but most learn quickly how to avoid the correction.

Secondly, if you've decided to use a coupler, decide where to hook your lead. If you have one dog that needs more control than the other, hook the lead and the coupler to that dog's collar -- then the more controlled dog gets fewer corrections and the guy who needs the most effort has the lead attached to *his* collar.

Third, decide who goes on the outside. This is a tough one -- because the dog on the outside does a lot more work -- he has to run faster on the outside leg of the figure 8, on about turns, etc. So, theoretically, your faster dog should be on the outside. Unfortunately, the dogs often want input on who goes where, so you may end up putting the dogs where they are most comfortable. This might very well be exactly the opposite of the ideal for the team!

Unfortunately, the outside dog also learns to heel wide to make room for the inside dog. This can translate into the real ring -- and you end up with deductions for your dog heeling wide.

This may seem self-evident, but be sure the dogs both know how to do the same finish. Most dogs have a preferred finish -- and even when re-trained on a new one, can revert back to it in the ring.

Brace is a terrific activity for retired dogs, or for currently competitive dogs with a *very* motivated handler.

From Kathy Buetow, (

One of the best things you can do is begin by just MAKING the dogs think about working together. Any activites you do with the dogs, put them together (always keeping their safety in mind). When you go out on walks, couple them; when you play ball, etc. Be sure to try to split up the time spent doing things each of the dogs prefers. You can even occasionally couple them around the house on a rainy afternoon so that they have to start thinking about obstacles (chairs). This MAKES them have to think about their body positions in relation to each other and work TOGETHER to get things done.

When you work with them initially, work with two leads (yes, you need five hands for this) if they both have different styles (i.e. one is a forger and one is not, etc.)...that way you don't correct both of them (unless you need to).

Also, don't get too obsessed about whois on the "outside" and who is on the "inside". Many dogs will work out for themselves who should be where for what exercise.

Most importantly, HAVE FUN !! You may find that it helps individual performances for the better.

For more info on training in brace, visit the obedience training articles .


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