May 19, 2012

Puppy: Introduction to Serpentines

The serpentine, a valuable handling skill, can be taught early in your training. After introducing your dog to angled approaches, you can teach her to serpentine. In the video below, you will see my 10 month old border collie learning the skill for the first time. Below this video, a second video demonstrates the same teaching, but using food instead of a toy, with a golden retriever and a rottweiler.

Helpful Tips

  1. Use a helper to hold your dog.
  2. Position and timing are very important in teaching the exercise. Stand very close to the wing and make sure you are there and standing still before your dog moves into the takeoff zone. Later, when your dog has more experience, you can be on the run or  late with the cue and your dog will still turn tightly.
  3. A strong toy drive will be critical for success. If your dog will not drive toward you for a toy, use food, as demonstrated in the second video.
  4. Avoid any corrections or verbal non-reward markers, as nearly 100% of the errors that arise during this exercise will come from you, the handler. Your goal is to develop a happy, eager dog that is always willing to charge toward you on course.

These exercises are adapted from two of our favorite resources, Agility Right from the Start by Eva Bertilsson and Emelie Johnson Vegh, and Greg and Laura Derrett’s Ultimate Handling e-course.



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