Handling Techniques

Crossing in Front of the Dog

A front cross occurs when the handler goes in front of the dog and crosses the path the dog will be taking. Although the front cross is done with the dog and handler moving it is probably easier to explain starting off with the dog sitting in the heel position.

With the dog in the heel position, the handler takes a small step forward, and, at the same time, turns a quarter turn to the left with the handler looking at the dog. The handler goes forward in front of the dog and again turns a quarter turn to the left. This means the handler is now facing backwards right in front of the dog looking straight at the dog. Another step forward and another quarter turn to the left which brings the handler to the far side of the dog and facing across the dog's path. Eyes are still glued to the dog. The last move is for the handler to make another quarter turn which puts the handler in a position on the far side of the dog and facing forward, but still with one eye on the dog. All this is done in one easy smooth flowing movement. And, of course, the front cross can be done from either side.

Once you have practiced this with the dog stationary, then do it while running. This can be a very effective and slick way of changing sides.

The important part of this front cross is that the handler never loses sight of the dog which is Agility Rule # 1 (Keep at least one eye on the dog at all times). If at any time you turned your back on the dog, then you have done the exercise incorrectly.

It is only possible to do this cross when the handler is ahead of the dog because of the handler's greater speed or because the course allows the handler to take a shortcut. Even with a fast dog it is often possible for the handler to do a front cross when the dog is in a tunnel, the weave poles or climbing the Aframe.

In the normal rear cross, there is a tendency for a dog to slow down, wondering what the handler is doing behind its back. With the front cross the reverse is true since the handler is ahead of the dog and that tends to make most dogs go faster to catch up with the handler. If the dog is going through the tunnel the front cross can have the added advantage that the dog saw the handler's legs at the tunnel exit and therefore knows where the handler is, without having to come out blindly.
(Ian Pate)

Crossing in front utilizes handler hang time where many stop and wait for the dog to catch up. It works well for keeping fast dogs on course, tightening up turns, as well as encouraging slower dogs to get a move on. Instead of hanging back waiting on the inside of the sequence get moving! It usually presents a much clearer picture of your intentions to the dog. (Katie Greer)

Crossing in front of a slow dog will help keep the dog from slowing down. It can also help dogs that spin after a jump. It can help with a lot of problems. And, yes, it is possible to cross in front of a fast dog. When people argue that you can't cross in front of a dog often they don't really understand what this means. Crossing in front of a dog doesn't mean you race him from point A to point B and then cut in front of him...it means that you are crossing the course path that the dog has not yet taken as opposed to crossing the path he's already covered (which is what you do when you cross behind the dog).

There is not a direct correlation that every place on a course where you can cross behind a dog can be a place that you cross in front of the dog instead -- you have to look at a course differently to figure out where it would be more beneficial to cross in front of the dog. (Monica Percival)

The important point is that you don't try to outrun the dog to cross in front, but it is an excellent technique when there is a turn particularly a sharp turn on the course. It is a particularly good technique on jumpers courses where there are normally a number of loops. A cross in front can take a potential trap right out of the picture. Crosses can be executed on obstacles where the dog naturally slows down, such as the teeter and A-frame. Another technique worth working on are crosses behind and in front of the weave poles. (Kent Mahan)

Crossing in front is often much better than crossing behind. In fact, whereas crossing behind often slows a dog up, crossing in front will often speed them up. Crossing in front seems to take more work to learn than crossing behind, especially crossing in front of the dog in a jumping sequence or in front of the weave poles, but it is worth the effort. Timing is everything. (Billie Rosen)


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