One of the more challenging skills in rally and obedience, for both dogs and their handlers, is the front after a jump. This skill requires the dog to clear a jump and then promptly sit in front of their handler. This is a complex task that can take time to master.
The Challenge of the Front After the Jump
The front after the jump is a difficult skill for many dogs. It requires them to clear a jump with enthusiasm, then quickly collect themselves and sit straight directly in front of their handler. This may seem straightforward, but it demands a high level of coordination, timing, and communication between the dog and their handler. When you add the speed and excitement of jumping, nailing that front can be tricky!
Here’s a video of Excel working on this skill. In the video, you can see that Excel needed only two repetitions to start grasping the concept. However, he faced a common issue during his initial attempts. After clearing the jump, Excel had a tendency to sit with his rear end slightly out of alignment, rather than sitting directly in front.
Using Reward Placement to Guide Behavior
One of the key takeaways from Excel’s video is the importance of using reward placement strategically. When I asked Excel to set up in heel after the jump, he struggled a bit because of his higher arousal level. Rather than battling with Excel to correct his sit position, I cued a twirl and placed the reward on my right side. This technique helped correct Excel’s setup without frustration.
Would you like some other ways to work on fronts? Check out this blog, Fabulous Fronts with Games!
It’s essential to recognize that achieving 100% accuracy in this skill is a challenging task. Excel wasn’t always spot on with his fronts. At times, he would be slightly crooked or positioned too far from me. In such instances, I employed various techniques to improve Excel’s positioning, including throwing rewards between her legs. This approach not only helps improve the dog’s behavior but also keeps the training positive and enjoyable.
Training Tips for Success
If you’re working on teaching your dog the front after the jump, here are some tips to help you along the way:
- Consider using a platform or PVC box: These tools can assist your dog in sitting straight in front of you after clearing the jump.
- Back chain the front: Start with the dog on the landing side of the jump and gradually reduce the speed at which your dog approaches the jump. This can help them focus on the front position rather than speed.
- Lower the jump height: Reducing the height of the jump will naturally slow down your dog’s approach, making it easier for them to sit correctly.
- Shorten distances: Shortening the distance between the dog and the jump, as well as between the jump and you, can also help control the speed and improve your dog’s accuracy.
Teaching a front after a jump is one of the skills we cover in my upcoming online class at FDSA, Movin’ On Up: Skills and Signs for Master Rally. If you want to improve on your dog’s fronts, join us for class!