And finally: our famous cik&cap



If you hear people saying cik&cap or zip&zap or trick&track or any other strange thing in a ring, you can guess s/he probably knows meJ. Or that it is meJ.


Lots of people mailed me to explain cik&cap turns, so here comes the explanation for all that weren’t at any of my seminars – the rest already know everything about itJ… I have two different commands for jumping: hop means jump with extension, with hind legs stretched back and land as far from the jump as you can. Cik&cap however mean jump collected, hind legs under your body, land as close to a wing as possible and already turned in the right direction (cik to the left, cap to the right).


Why different commands for jumping? Those are two totally different behaviours, so I need two totally different names for them. It’s different style of jumping and ideally, all dogs could jump both ways: in reality, they don’t, some always jump with collected legs and have therefore naturally good turns, but loose time in lines, while others always jump stretched and gain time in lines, but lose on tight courses with lots of turns…


How to get both? With teaching a puppy to use his body while teaching him as many tricks as you can think of! If you read “our training” page, you know how much importance I put on tricks: I think it’s most important part of agility. I didn’t know that when starting to teach tricks to La, I only did it because I love playing with dogs and tricks were what I could do anytime, anywhere, whenever I had 10 minutes of time. I did the same with Bu, just because we all love it. And then, she turned out to have great jumping skills too… And all the dogs from my friends that I obsessed with teaching tricks are great jumpers too… So I started to think that there must be a connection… The only two dogs (one BC and one Beauceron) that were in my agility classes and had jumping problems came to me as adults and were not worked at all before, they only knew some basic obedience… So it all makes sense to me now: of course they had jumping problems, they had no idea they have hind feet!


More tricks, better body awareness, better jumping skills. If you don’t have those, cik&cap won’t help, so make sure first that your dog has good rear end awareness, can jump and is physically fit. If you have all that, cik&cap is easy, but it does take some repetition, so don’t be too much in a hurry when training it. And: train it from the start, you can’t start training it on full height jumps!


Cik&cap were originally my commands to circle my legs in one or another direction, either doing figure eight or circling both legs in left or right circles. I also used the command to send a dog to circle around that or another object: a chair, a tree or, why not, a wing of a jump. No pole, just a wing – what is especially important if a dog is already trained for agility. As you know, dogs don’t generalize well, so you need to make a wing just like any other object to circle before you add a pole – first on the ground, then higher and higher by 2 to 5 cm (2 for small dogs, 5 for large dogs) – even, or, let me say – especially - if a dog is already jumping its full height. Be careful to watch your dog and go lower immediately if a dog starts jumping with extension, the only point in cik&cap is to tell a dog how you want him to jump.


And remember: if you want to tell the dog how to jump you must do it BEFORE he takes off. After take-off, it’s too late, the landing point is set by take-off point and if you want to change it, you have to have an exceptionally good jumper (I would say 1 dog in 300 is capable of doing that) or you risk a bar.


It’s amazing how many people forget about that… Being too late with command is most common mistake I see in people, starting to use cik&cap. Second most popular mistake is going too fast with training and all a dog learns is to jump normally and then come back when in fact, he should jump with collection and already in the right direction. Just starting to use the commands without initial training, described above, won’t do the trick, trust me.


The smaller the dog and the shorter their jump, less important cik&cap get. But properly trained cik&cap with average BC will cut off at least 1 to 2 seconds off your course time (depends on a course) – if you will say it in time of course. It also lets a dog know where he is going next when your body positioning is not ideal because of  that or another reason, it makes a course more fluid and turns more fun – turns get even more motivating for the dogs as straight lines. La for example finds lines absolutely boring: more turns, more time she is winning. Bu’s strongest point are turns too. They might look slower to you as they actually are because they’re not all over the place, but when you look at their times, you see it’s better not to be all over the place.:)


But remember: train it from the start and progress slowly, you won’t get anywhere if you’re in a hurry. And when you start using it in a course: use it when it still helps! - If a dog is already in the air or almost in the air, it’s too late. More luck next time.



And, to show the two different styles, here are some pictures of Bu, showing:


- extension jumping


- five stages of cik that means to a dog that
1. no matter from which direction you come
2. you should only take off very close to the wing
3.  wrap around the wing as close as possible
4. with hind feet under you
5. and land as close to the wing as possible, already facing the right direction -
as you can see, this change of direction was 180 degrees, so not an easy one.

Big thanks to Andraz Cerar for the photos!