Sunday, June 24, 2012

Calling All Circus Dog Wannabe's!

Maybe you want a new trick for your dog. Maybe you're exploring dog sports like Agility or Rally or maybe you just need to wear your dog out. Whichever way you're exploring, teaching your dog to jump over things or through things is relatively easy and fun too!

Max was jumping on things and over things as soon as he came home so it was a natural extension of that "skill" to shape a jump for him. We started with a hula hoop, good treats and Max. For him the skill took about an hour on a rainy afternoon when we couldn't walk outside. In next week's post we'll talk about constructing a custom jump for your dog at different jump heights.

Here's what we did (and you can too!)

First things first:
Get a hula hoop that's large for your dog to jump through/over. You could use a broom stick or other pole but a hula hoop is easy to raise and lower without help or down-time.

Grab good treats that your dog will work for. Now is the time to bring out the big guns; hot dogs, cheese or other high-value treats are where you start. When you've mastered the trick you can scale down the treats.

Get your dog's attention. Work in an area without a lot of distractions and plenty of space so your dog doesn't worry about hitting something when they jump.

Now check out the video.

Start with the hoop held vertically but touching the floor or ground and lure your dog through with a treat. At this point you just want them to get comfortable walking through the hoop. Make sure to give plenty of treats and praise. Do this until your dog has that "lightbulb" moment and willingly goes through the hoop.

You can add a cue word such as "jump"  to use later. Max's word is "through" since his jumps have sides.

Once your dog has gotten the hang of going through the hoop resting on the floor, raise the hoop so your dog has to physically step up and over the hoop. Mid-shin level for your dog is a good place to start.

When your dog gives you the "I so got this" 'tude, raise the hoop to so it's a short up-and-over hop, typically about lower-chest height. Again with the cues, treats and praise.

Keep raising the height of the hoop until your dog is jumping at a comfortable height.

Have fun!

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