Teach Your Dog to Jump over a Bar | Dog Tricks
How to Get Your Dog to Jump Poles
Agility training is a fun way to exercise your dog’s body and brain and to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. It also helps breeds that are prone to hip problems increase their strength and endurance.Jumping over a pole is a basic agility training move that you can teach your dog at home. By using positive reinforcement, consistent training, and with incremental changes to the height of the jump, you can easily train your dog to leap in no time.
Wait until your dog is fully grown.Jumping can place a lot of strain on your dog’s muscles and the joints, so it is important to begin training your dog when it is fully grown. Puppies and young dogs can more easily damage their developing bones and muscles while jumping.Wait until your dog is fully grown and ask your veterinarian about whether they think it’s appropriate to begin training.
- Veterinarians vary on when the right time to allow dogs to jump up, down, and over things so it is important to have an open conversation with them.
- If you have a senior dog, check with your veterinarian to make sure it is safe for your dog to jump poles.
Choose a command cue.Before you begin training your dog to jump, decide what command or cue to use while training your dog. Select a word such as “over” or “jump.” Use your chosen command or cue consistently throughout the training. Switching between commands may confuse your dog, so decide which one to use early on.
Use other objects as jumping poles.Training with lightweight, easy-to-assemble jumping poles are great for training your dog to jump, but you can use a variety of objects around your home, too. Teach your dog to jump over your legs, or use a broom handle, a PVC pipe, a hula-hoop, a tree branch, a box, or a taut rope.
Teaching Your Dog to Jump Over Objects
Introduce your dog to the jumping poles.Place your dog on a leash and bring it toward the jumping poles (or whatever other object you're using for your dog to jump over). If it seems hesitant about approaching this new fixture, allow it to sniff around the poles.This will help the dog become familiar with them and realize that they are not a threat.
- If your dog seems to be afraid of the poles, you can smear a small amount of peanut butter or cheese on the pole to make the dog less afraid and entice the dog to go near them, lick them, and become familiar with the poles.
Walk over a lowered pole.Place the pole on the lowest rung or directly on the ground. With your dog on a leash, bring your dog toward the jumping pole and have it walk over it.Say your command word as it steps—not jumps or hops—over the pole. Bring your dog across several times and continue to repeat the command word. This will help the dog acclimate to the pole and the command word. Reward your dog with praise or a treat.
- If your dog does not want to walk over the jumping pole, do not force it over by pulling on the leash.Instead, try placing a treat on the other side of the lowered pole, or throw a treat over to encourage your dog to jump after it.
- You could also play with your dog to get it to follow you over the pole. Make your side of the pole more exciting and inviting than the dog’s side to get it to cross over.
Raise the pole a short distance.Once your dog has successfully walked over the pole several times, make it a little more challenging by raising the pole to the next rung.Show the dog a treat and lead it to the pole. As it approaches, say your command word. After the dog jumps over, reward it with praise and give it the treat.
Build up to higher jumps.As your dog becomes more comfortable jumping at a lower level, remove the leash and raise the bar little by little. Be sure that the jumping pole does not to exceed the height of your dog.Performing these incremental jumps will help your dog feel more comfortable in its abilities.
- Discuss with your veterinarian what the maximum height of the pole should be based on your dog’s breed and size.
Set up a second jump.Once your dog is comfortable jumping over one object, introduce another obstacle for your dog to jump over in succession. Be sure that the second obstacle is lower than the first jump and is set at its lowest possible height.Continue to add more obstacles as your dog’s abilities improve.
- Let your dog explore and sniff around both jumping obstacles.
- Place your dog on a leash and lead it over the first obstacle. Be sure to use the command word for each jump so you dog learns that the command word is for each obstacle they are to jump over.
- When your dog completes the second jump, reward it with praise and a treat.
Concentrate on accuracy, not speed.During the initial stages of training, do not encourage your dog to jump over the poles quickly. It is important to proceed slowly and with caution. If your dog begins its training at high speeds before it builds its foundation, it may injure or strain itself.
- Work slowly and watch to see that the jump is not too high for your dog. Look at your dog’s legs to ensure that they are not catching or hitting the pole as they jump over. If this is happening, lower the jump.
- As you approach the jumping obstacles, do not run with your dog on a leash. Walk toward the obstacles to ensure that your dog is aware of the upcoming jump.
- If you dog is approaching the jump at a speed that you feel is too fast, lead the dog away from the obstacle and do not stay the command word.
Using Positive Reinforcement
Use treats and praise during training.Rewarding your dog with praise and treats will make your dog more likely to repeat desired or correct behaviors. Rewards can include offering your dog treats, petting or praising your dog, or providing it with its favorite toy. Treats are the most effective for training since dogs are motivated by food.
- The treat should be something your dog enjoys. Buy a few different treats and see what it most appealing to your dog.
- Choose small, soft pieces of food that your dog can quickly and safely swallow.
- If your dog has a favorite toy such as a tennis ball or a squeaker toy, this can be used in place of a food item. Just make sure that the “treat” is highly valued by your dog.
Reward your dog immediately after it completes a jump.Timing is crucial when you are using positive reinforcement. After your dog completes a jump correctly, you should reward your dog immediately. If there is a delay, your dog may not realize that it is being rewarded for completing a jump.
Use a clicker when a dog performs a jump.Your dog will associate the sound of the clicking with the correct behavior and with a treat or praise.Be sure you are using the clicker during the jump and not afterward.Clickers can cost anywhere between and and can be purchased online or at your local pet store.
Switch to verbal reinforcement when your dog has learned to jump.Once your dog has learned to jump consistently, you may wish to cut back on the number of treats it receives. Continue to verbally praise your dog after it completes a jump. Reward your dog with a treat 4 out of every 5 times it completes a jump, and slowly reduce the rewards until you are only providing a treat on occasion.
- Vary how often you give your dog a treat, and don’t establish a pattern. Establishing a fluctuating reward system will ensure that your dog will keep performing the jumps each time.
- Eventually, you should advance to the point where you call out commands as your dog runs ahead and jumps over the obstacles in order. You can provide a treat and praise at the end of this routine.
Becoming Involved in Dog Agility Sports
Join an agility organization.In the U.S., there are several major agility organizations, including American Kennel Club, the United States Dog Agility Association, and The North American Dog Agility Council. Each organization sets forth a set of rules and guidelines for the sport, hosts sponsored competitions throughout the year, and has varying heights for the jumping portions of the competition.If you have a small dog or a senior dog, you will want to be sure that your dog can safely reach the required heights.
- The American Kennel Club only offers membership to purebred dogs, while the United States Dog Agility Association happily includes mixed breed dogs. Research the requirements and expectations of each organization to see if it is a good fit for you and your dog.
Take a training course.Find a local dog trainer in your area to see if they offer training sessions geared toward jumping and other agility moves. These classes offer great introductions to agility training and they can help improve your dog’s abilities in a short period of time.Classes typically have 6 to 10 owners and their pets, which allows the trainer to focus on each dog’s abilities, skills, and areas for improvement.
- Classes meet once or twice a week for 4 to 8 weeks. The entire course can cost around 0, depending on your location.
- These classes often require that your dog masters basic obedience skills (like how to sit, stay, and come) before enrollment.
Enter a local agility event.There are two types of agility events, matches and sanctioned trails. Matches are more relaxed and typically allow mixed breed dogs to participate. The fee to enter the competition is typically much lower than sanctioned trails, which are often hosted by national agility organizations. These obstacles typically include a variety of jumps, including bar jumps, double-bar jumps, tire jumps, and panel jumps.
- Subscribe to an organization’s newsletter or ask your agility trainer to learn about upcoming events in your area.
QuestionHow long will it take?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt could take around a month or two. You will have to practice frequently in order to get really good at it.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I stop my dog from going around or under the jump?Eqeustrian addictCommunity AnswerYou can make solid jumps, like crates or wooden planks, before moving onto poles. If your dog tries to go around, make cardboard barriers on either side so the dog can't shy away from the jump.Thanks!
- Be sure that your dog gets plenty of rest and water during training. If your dog seems tired, take a break or begin again the next day.
- Keep the training sessions short and positive. If you dog is continually failing or not making progress, try to stop on a good note. Keep it fun for both you and your dog.
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