Gates: A Useful Tool for Fronts and Finishes

April 22, 2023

Wire training gates can be a very useful tool for teaching and maintaining many obedience, rally, and agility behaviors.  In this blog, we’ll discuss how I use gates to train fronts and finishes.


What are Training Gates?

First, what are training gates and where can you get them?  There are a couple options for this.  If you want a good quality ready-to-use option, check out the Rally Free website.


If you’re on a budget and don’t mind securing the gates together, you can buy a wire shoe shelf on Amazon.


Introduce the Gates


You’ve got your training gates – now what?  First, make sure your dog is comfortable moving in between the gates.  If your dog has never seen these gates before he or she might be a little unsure.  Gates can make some dogs uncomfortable because it’s a lot of pressure.  Other dogs aren’t bothered by them at all.  Just because I’d rather be safe than sorry, I always start with the gates way wider apart then I would normally have them, just to make sure they aren’t too overwhelming for the dog.  Here’s a video of me working with Strive, who has never seen gates like this.  You can see that she’s not too bothered, but just in case I start them nice and wide.



Once the dog is comfortable in the gates, I’ll make the path way a little narrower.  Do you see how Strive chooses to go through the gates rather than come to me?  That shows me that she has value and is not nervous about the gates.



When I see that she’s comfortable running through them, I do a few fronts.  You can see that not all her fronts are straight, so I know the gates need to be narrower if I want them to affect her fronts.  We’ll talk more about that in a moment.


Using Gates to Train Fronts


I really love using the gates for fronts because of how easy they are to fade.  You simply just keep backing right out of the gates.  The more ways we can show the dogs what front looks like the more understanding the dog gains, so I use these along with several other props.


Here’s a video of me using the gates for front with Excel.



Make sure your gates are narrow enough that the dog can’t sit crooked.  Do you see how I back up right out of the gates?  Excel is so focused on his job that he doesn’t even realize it!  That’s a great way to start fading the gates.


Using Gates to Train Finishes


Gates can be great for finishes too!  Here is an example of Excel doing finishes.  This was his very first session using gates to work on finishes.



You can see how gates can be useful for fronts and finishes, but you can use them for other behaviors too, like backing up, circling around, and calling to heel.  With all their uses, gates are definitely a tool worth adding to your tool box!


If you want to teach your dog all the props that are useful for obedience and rally behaviors, check out my week-long online workshop starting on May 7th at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy.  7 Days for 7 Props Every Performance Dogs Should Know will teach you how to train and maintain accurate behaviors using props and opens for registration on April 22nd.  Register here!

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