Serpentine in Dog Agility

Understanding the Serpentine
in Dog Agility

The Serpentine is a configuration of obstacles such that the dog will run a path that forms the letter "S" when navigating through them.   In it's simplest form, you will see 3 jumps lined up in a row, like that shown here.
Recognizing a Serpentine

Fill in the blanks to check your understanding.
"FC" in the diagram here is short for Front Cross.

1. With a Serpentine you can always do a FC before and after the middle obstacle.______ (True or False?)

2. A Serpentine has _____ (how many?) obstacles

3. You can think of sending the dog ____ out/in (pick one) over the first obstacle, then ____ out/in (pick one) over the second obstacle and finally back out over the third obstacle. 

4, The path of the dog makes a path shaped like the letter ______,
Recognizing a Serpentine (Answers)

1. With a Serpentine you can always do a FC before and after the middle obstacle -- That's correct.

2. A Serpentine has three obstacles

3. You can think of sending the dog out over the first obstacle, then in over the second obstacle and finally back out over the third obstacle. 

4, The path of the dog makes a path shaped like the letter S.
A Better Way

Although you can do a FC on each side of the middle obstacle, it is often better to run continuously on the take off side of the first obstacle.  As the dog approaches obstacle #2, turn your chest towards your dog. It is best to also use your opposite arm to lead the dog over the jump. 

Take a look at the cartoon showing a handler staying on the take-off side.  

Is the handler using the opposite arm to lead the dog over #2 as recommended?   _____ Yes/No (Pick One)
Answer

No, the handler in the cartoon earlier is using her dog side arm to lead the dog over obstacle number 2.

We recommend you use your non-dog side arm to lead the dog over #2 as shown.  Why?  Because in so doing you turn your chest more toward your dog.  

Your chest has a virtual laser beam pointer. When you point that at your dog he or she will naturally coming running toward you!
Bad Dog Agility Tutorial

Here's a video tutorial on Serpentines courtesy of Bad Dog Agility. Watch the video. Then check your understanding by answering the key take away questions below. 

1) Why is it recommended to lead the Serpentine from the take-off side of obstacle #1?

2) The 3 obstacles do/do not (pick one) need to be jumps.

3) The obstacles do/do not (pick one) need to be in a straight line. 

Answers

1) You  can save time because you can run faster. The Front Cross requires more complex footwork and takes longer to carry out.

2) The obstacles can be anything, although usually the middle obstacle is a jump. 

3) The obstacles do not need to be in a straight line. You can move the first or third obstacle.  Notice that n the illustration, the third obstacle is a tunnel and how it is not in a straight line with the other obstacles.

Dog Agility Fun

Thanks for visiting.  Please be sure to check out our other Dog Agility Tips.
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