Dog Agility Training – Teaching the Proper Jump

Acd_agilityMany people are interested in dog agility training.  However, they don’t know where to start.  Let’s start with how to teach a dog to properly jump.  For the sake of this article, we’ll be using a 24” height dog as an example.

If you are going to be doing this from home then you’ll need 3 – 5 jumps.  The jumps can be made with PVC.  They are cheap.  Just doing a web search for dog agility equipment.  They are easy to find.

A dog’s stride is 3 times her jump height.  So, a 24 inch dog has a stride of 72 inches.  A 20 inch height dog has a stride of sixty inches.  You’ll want 2 strides between jumps.  So, a 24 inch height dog will need the jumps 144”  or 12 feet apart.  A 20 inch cutie needs jumps 120” or 10 feet apart.

The front paws leave the ground, the back feet push off the legs tuck up and under as the back arcs and head drops.  This allows the dog to land with the front paws at almost  the same time, at least 24 inches past the jump and the back legs untuck and land last.

The takes a lot of pressure off of the front legs and helps prevent knocked bars and protesting on the dog’s part.

When you start training, the jumps should be no higher than elbow height.  Also make sure that the bar is on the landing side.  This way, it will fall of easily if the doggy hits it.

Have your dog in a “stay” position while she is 12 feet away from jump #1.  Then, walk to the end of the jumps.  Now, give your dog a “come” command and before they reach each jump, say “JUMP” or “HUP” or whatever command you’ve chosen.  When the dog reaches you, give an extreme amount of praise.  Your dog worked very hard.  This is a physical and mental workout for a dog.

Sometimes dogs need to start with 1 jump.  Some can handle 2 or 3 jumps in the beginning.  Every dog is different.  Not every dog was born to be a champion agility winner.

Many owners say the “come” command when they are at the end of the agility area.  In other words, the dog is running towards the owner.

Advanced handlers can send the dog out.  This means that they stand at the beginning and send the dog out to jump over the bars.

If you are a newbie, I wouldn’t raise the bar more than one inch per week.  You want to set the dog up for success.  You don’t want to risk injury and disappointment.  The process should take weeks and months.  It shouldn’t be rushed in days.  Some dogs thrown themselves over when not trained properly.  This can injure the dogs.  The best thing is to find an agility trainer in your area.

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Ivan Petersel

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