A rear cross is a side change that happens by crossing your dog’s line as they pass you before they take off for an obstacle.
Your motion should parallel your dog’s intended path before and after the side change.
Your position should be one step away from the dog’s line before the cross, and can be further away after the side change.
Your eyes should observe commitment from the dog, and then follow the line over the bar to the landing point of the jump/exit of the obstacle.
Your chest should be pointing to the intended line the entire time.
Your feet will move you forward, parallel to the dog’s path the entire time.
Your dog-side arm will follow the dog forward, as if you are holding their tail, and will change after the dog has landed the jump.
Your voice can be used to encourage the dog to go forward past you or turn.
The rear cross recipe can be adjusted slightly to create different lines. For example, if the handler includes deceleration before crossing the dog’s line, the dog will turn tighter. The closer the handler is to the jump before crossing the dog’s line, the tighter the turn will be.
Individual dogs may react differently to the rear cross naturally. The more obstacle focus they have, the easier it is to cue slight turns with a rear cross. Dogs will typically naturally turn fairly tight towards their handlers because of the handler’s position behind the dog and the movement across the dog’s line.
Many people view the rear cross as a technique where the dog is turning *away* from the handler. I view the rear cross as a technique where the dog is trained to turn their head away when we cross behind them, but they are in fact, turning *towards* us when a rear cross is cued on time. This is because of our position relative to them when cueing a rear cross.
Teaching the rear cross. Because dogs naturall want to turn towards us, we have to teach them that when we cross behind them, that they should turn their heads away to find us on their other side, then jump the jump and turn towards us. To do that, I use a pre-placed reward ahead of the dog. I start 1-2 steps ahead of the dog and send the dog forward with 1-2 steps of my own. As I see my dog look forward and start to pass me, I move behind them, crossing their path to the reward. I should observe that they are eating facing the side that I am on.
Then, I add a wing. My dog should go forward to the wing, and then turn in the direction that I finish on. As my dog is successful with this, I move the reward away from the wing, to servce as a distraction. I expect the dog to follow my handling straight forward to the wing before turning.
Next, we will train the rear cross on a jump. Start with your dog on an angle to the jump, so their path to the reward is straight as you cross behind them. With each success, move your dog’s starting point until the dog is starting perpedicular with the jump.
Testing Your Rear Crosses
You have technicaly already been training your forward sends! A forward send is anytime I am sending my dog ahead of me to complete an obstacle. I then expect the dog to turn towards me. I can follow a forward send by turning with the dog (like in lecture 2.4) or I can follow a forward send with a front cross (like the front cross wraps when you are behind the dog).
I specifically practice the forward send with rear crosses, because I do not want my dog to anticipate a rear cross anytime I am behind them or anytime I am decelerating. I also want to keep my own rear cross mechanics clean, so as to not confuse these two handling techniques.
Once you have taught your dog the rear cross, you can ask alternate what you cue. For example, in the video to the right, I alternate between a rear cross and a forward send + front cross.
If there are no issues with your dog understanding the differences in your position and motion of the rear cross and forward send, the sequences in the next below will put your cueing to the test!