(Please excuse the make-shift jumps; hopefully one day I’ll get some proper ones!)
This is a relatively new concept for Rusty – I began to teach her this just a few days ago but she tends to pick up on what I’m asking pretty quickly so is already performing it almost perfectly.
Before I could begin with this technique there were a few other things I had to make sure were mastered; for example Rusty has been trained to work away from me whilst still listening to me and following my commands – if I had to lead her to every single obstacle with her at my heel, we would really struggle with turns like this.
Because she has been jumping for a couple of years now, she also really locks onto her next obstacle and once she is committed to it I can then move on to get ahead of her and keep our round fast-paced.
The diagram below shows two jumps laid out with an angle of 180 degrees between them. There is also a considerable gap between the ‘wings’ of the jumps. What I want Rusty to do is to jump the first jump, then sweep round to the next one – this is difficult because it is easier for her to turn in towards me between the two jumps instead of going the long way round to the second one. To convey to Rusty that she needs to jump both jumps, I began with the second jump at an angle of 90 degrees, and slowly rotated this around until it was at 180 degrees.
The next step from here will be to increase the angle to 270 degrees – although I am conscious of not rushing the process, so we will continue to practice 180 degree turns both individually and as part of longer sequences over the next few weeks.
If you take a look at the images below, you can see Rusty jumping the first obstacle in our 180 degree turn. In the first image, she has already locked onto the jump and knows she will be jumping it. The second image shows her taking off over the jump and instead of carrying on with her past the jump I begin to make my turn towards the next jump.
The third image shows Rusty landing and looking round to me and where she is being expected to run next.
The next image shows a similar situation.
The video below also shows a slow motion clip of one of our 180 degree turns. You may notice that I reward her by throwing a ball – I do also reward her with treats but I choose her reward based on what we are practising and how well she knows it.
All of Rusty’s agility training is interspersed with rests and games of ‘chase’ or ‘tug’ to keep it interesting and fun for her – the last thing I would want is for her to become bored!