DiscDog Puppy Foundational Team Movement | Front & Rear Crosses with Cookies

Team Movement is a great skill to teach to a puppy. It can be done in systematic fashion with cookies rather quickly. We have already worked to teach 5 Set Up Moves in 5 Minutes and created a communication system of sorts, now we’ll apply the same methods towards laying the foundation of Front and Rear Crosses.

Playing on the Hand to Hand Transfer

In an earlier session Zappa learned to follow cookies from hand to hand to learn 5 Set Up Moves in 5 Minutes, which leads to an understanding that actual value will be transferred from hand to hand when the hands meet.

We are going to further that understanding while teaching him the essence of both the Front and Rear Cross. After this session we can add 4 more Set Up Moves to those 5 we taught earlier, and we will be well on our way to creating a comprehensive communication system for Team Movement.

Front Cross is Sneaky

The Front Cross is super sneaky. My brain broke back in the mid ’00s when a 16 year old agility trainer tried to teach it to me. It really doesn’t look like much, and yet it is, perhaps, the most important skill in disc dog freestyle. All you need to jam is to be able to do a solid Front Cross… You don’t even need to know what you’re doing, and most of us don’t.

A year or two ago I realized that the Front Cross is really all you need to do super cool disc dog freestyle and interior sequences. Of course having more skills and understanding how they work is more flexible and can do more things, but if you’re competent with the Front Cross you can be a superb disc dog jammer.

The definition of a cross is to switch working sides with the handler in front of the dog, but it’s not quite as simple as side vs side. When you adjust your dog into front position when they are set up a little bit cock-eyed, you’re employing the Front Cross. When you stop your dog from moving right to left and pull them into Front position, you’re leveraging the principles of the Front Cross. Lining up a vault? Front Cross Principles.

In the first rep with Zappa at 0:30 it’s easy to see the side to side switch, but in the 2nd one at 0:50 it’s not nearly so easy. It often requires a good look and some thought to compute the dog’s current flank and often takes just as much attention to detail to see the shift from side to side. But once you start to see it, it’s nearly impossible to miss.

Rear Cross – Be Sure to Send

The key to the Rear Cross is the send. The definition of Rear Cross is to switch working sides with the handler behind the dog. It can also be “dog turns away from me”.

You must get the dog out in front of the handler, however slightly, to make it a Rear Cross. And out front is not in relation to your position, but to the team’s movement or line. This is what separates a spin or a twist from a Rear Cross.

When sending the dog, scoop the hand closest to the dog forward while stepping forward with the foot further from the dog. This sounds complex, but take a moment to look down at your hips while stepping forward.

If you step with that outside foot, your hips are turned towards the dog and away from you. This is the direction the dog needs to go, away from you, meeting that second definition of the Rear Cross. Sending the dog with your body and feet in this orientation pushes the dog out and away from you.

If you look at your hips when you step forward with the foot that is next to the dog, you can see that your hips are turned towards you, pulling the dog in towards the handler. If you send the dog from this body position, you will pull the dog towards you.

The dog is reading not only your body language, but is reading and predicting your bodies movement. Doing this move with a flick of the wrist or hand turns it from a conceptual and natural cross into a conditioned flip, spin, or twist – cool trick, but not quite the same thing, foundationally speaking.

Match and Turn

Both the Front and Rear Cross have the match and turn. The hands should match and the handler should turn in the direction of the dog.

On the Front Cross, the handler will turn into the dog’s face, as the dog is standing in front of the handler, or approaching from the front.

On the Rear Cross, the handler will turn towards the dog, but to the backside of the dog or to a spot behind the dog, as the dog is out in front.

The Front Cross can be accomplished without the matching of the hands, but doing so breaks down the systemic communication and removes the focus from the hands – practically speaking this is no problem at all. Foundationally speaking it can be a problem for disc dogs. Match the hands to keep the continuity and you can create a cuing system.

The match on the rear cross is far more necessary both foundationally and functionally. Foundationally speaking it’s required to get the dog to look away from you, as disc dogs tend to keep strong focus on the handler and have real trouble turning away from us. Functionally speaking, the lack of a match can lead to cheating or a lack of commitment to the send part of the skill for the same reason.

Be Methodical Keep it Slow

Team Movement has the dog following the handler. If the dog executes a move at a different pace, place, and time from the handler, it might be cool, but it’s not really Team Movement. There is a time and a place for that, but it’s not foundation.

The dog should follow the handler. Adjust your speed to ensure that the dog is actually following you rather than simply doing a skill. If the dog follows you anything can be done together without training. If the dog simply does the skill you will have to train up any variation or not be able to vary the expression of the movement.

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