Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Pull Through Handling Maneuver

The Pull Through is one of my favorite handling maneuvers. It is easy to perform, easy to train, very useful, fun, and I've found it to be very reliable.  Dogs and handlers both seem to understand it.  Here's the diagram:

It's basically 2 fish hooks facing each other. Immediately at or after the jump, H turns into D while changing arms, D turns into H, and they run off together going in the opposite direction. H is basically pulling D through a narrow space between H and the wing.

Of course, the pull through can be used at any obstacle to elicit a 180. It is sometimes referred to as a "tight wrap".

This maneuver is often referred to as a "front cross", but to my mind it is NOT a front cross at all because the dog's and handler's paths never cross. It is a "side switch" and a "change of direction", yes, because the dog who used to be on your left is now on your right, and you do switch arms, but it is not a cross.

This maneuver can achieve some really tight turns, provided you signal collection and a turn just as D takes off, or before.  You signal this by your own decelleration to just past the plane of the jump, and I generally bend over forward just a bit as I turn inward, almost "scooping" my dog's nose into the hand closest to D.

TRAINING THE PULL THROUGH:  Easy.  Start with flatwork, indoors or out.  5 treats in each hand.  Walk along with D in heel position, turn 180 in towards your dog "on a dime", that is without stepping "into" their path, and deliver a treat into their upturned mouth as they complete their turn in to you.  Walk along some more.  Turn in again and when D turns the full 180 into you, deliver a treat from the closest hand. Keep walking the whole time, making 10 turns in all.  Repeat several times a day.  You can do this with a young dog on leash, switching the leash from hand to hand as you make your 180 turns, which trains the handler how to switch arms.
Introduce a wingless jump.  Sit D behind a low jump, about 10 feet back.  Walk along as above, give your JUMP command, and when D lands, turn in and make your 180.  Treat.  They will turn into you just as above.   Slowly begin making your turn while they are still in the air, and eventually just as they take off, and finally, before they take off so they'll know what's coming.  Randomize treat delivery, eventually eliminating the treats altogether.  End in a rousing game of chase or tug.

NOTE:  At no time in this exercise (or ever) should you let your dog cross behind you*. If they do, continue your turn inward (don't chase them), DON'T TREAT, reset them and start over. After they turn, the idea is to keep D in between you and the obstacle.

*Some folks consider a blind cross as encouraging your dog to cross behind you, and refuse to do that maneuver.  Others have figured out how to execute that cross in such a way that the dog isn't crossing behind, but the handler is crossing in front.  A significant but subtle difference. More on the Blind Cross later.
Introduce 2 wingless jumps, and eventually add wings.  Same as above, but take the 1st jump, pull through and make a 180 back to the second jump, then pull through and head back to Jump 1,  then back to Jump 2, etc, 10 cycles of this will give you 10 reps on each side.  Have a big party.

This gets both my dogs revved up until we're executing at a fast pace.  They love doing this, and the more we do it, the better they become at collection and tight turns.

Try it.  Enjoy it.

Upwards and onward,

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