Jumping is a natural, self-rewarding behavior for most dogs. The easiest way to teach dogs when they cannot jump is to teach them when jumping is acceptable.
Setting Up The Jump
When setting up the jump, always take into account the dog’s size and jumping ability. To establish how high to set the jump in the beginning stage, measure the height between the dog’s front paw and his shoulder. Divide the number in half, and the total will determine how high you should set the jump. If you need help with this exercise contact your local dog trainer.
The jump itself should be made with a pole or straight stick. Brooms are good makeshift poles. Balance the stick on two objects (called standards) of equal height, according to the determined height for the particular dog. Make sure the jump is secure enough to not be knocked over too easily. Place the jump in a cleared area with enough room for the dog to take at least five strides before reaching the jump.
Start With A Step Over
Place your dog on a six-foot training leash. Start at a walking pace and move towards the jump, food luring and verbally encouraging the dog as you approach the fence. Step over the jump, and if the dog follows, treat and praise. Continue doing this until the dog is comfortable stepping over the jump.
Still Not Working Right?
If the dog does not follow, consider using a tastier treat or lowering the jump. Perhaps the dog is hesitant to the stick. You may need to introduce an object by placing it on the floor where they are sure to pass over it. As they walk over it, capture the behavior by praising them. Once the dog can pass over the object with no hesitation at least nine out of ten times, begin placing the object on the jump.
Adding a Cue Word
Once the dog is comfortable walking over the jump, you can begin adding the cue word, “jump” or “over.” Continue to praise and treat with each successful jump. You can start to add more speed to your approach. As the dog continues to be successful, you can add height to the jump.
Advanced Jumping Skills
Start asking for the cue over different objects, and eventually set up obstacle courses. Jumping is a great form of exercise and is one of the most common components of agility. If you teach a dog to jump and he enjoys doing it, he would be a good candidate for agility. Jumping can also be useful when teaching a dog to retrieve or to be a search & rescue dog as he will be able to jump over any obstacles between him and the party being rescued. Additionally, it teaches the dog to focus on his owner and to obey cues.
Important Things to Remember
Always praise the proper behavior.
Set the dog up succeed. Don’t set the jump too high for the dog to successfully make it over the jump. If he is having problems making it over, lower the jump so he can succeed.
Don’t push the dog’s or your own limits. If he is not enjoying jumping, then do not force him to do so. If either you or the dog becomes frustrated, take a break and try again in a few minutes.
If the dog is not complying, try using a tastier or more potent-smelling treat.
If the dog has a family or personal history of hip dysplasia, take him to the vet prior to attempting this trick. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be forced to jump as the impact of them hitting the ground can injure their hips further.
Controlling Jumping Through Games
Dogs that love to jump on people, other dogs, counters, and furniture will find jumping over fences very fun and rewarding, and with time and training, it will teach them when it is appropriate to jump and when it is not. A dog’s excitement for jumping can be harnessed into a structured game, which in turn can give him more exercise as well as bonding time with his owner. Any opportunity to spend time with your best friend is valuable. You can learn more fun games like this at a dog training school near you.