The Agility Bar Jump: How to Train
Most dogs once they learn to jump, absolutely love it. And who doesn’t love seeing the elegant execution of the takeoff, soaring through the air over the bar, showing an artistic landing, like a deer over a country fence?
With some dogs this whole jumping thing is just second nature and they start out like experienced pros. Other dogs just don’t seem to have the natural coordination to clear that bar quite as effortlessly, but baring any physical limitations, they all can learn.
Set the bar on your standards as low to the ground as possible. Don’t set the bar on the ground, they should take a short step over it. Now with Prince on lead, both of you walk over the bar.
One of the reasons I don’t like to start with the bar on the ground is I want Prince to notice that he is going over something. But if Prince is nervous about the bar, he has noticed it. So maybe, for right now you might have to lay it on the ground. (Always train for the essence of the moment.) Whatever happens DO NOT just drag him over it. We as trainers have evolved to the point, that to muscle a dog to acquire a behavior is barbaric and not acceptable training. You might even need to wait, until after he checks (sniffs) it out. Even then while he is checking it out, some clicks and treats for investigating the bar would be in order. (If you don’t know about using the clicker, please see my featured article, on the Home Page of this site.)
Regardless of how he got over the bar, once he is over it, click, treat and praise. Now repeat the whole process a time or two, then end on a high note. Throw a party and call it a day.
The next day, start at the same height. (If he balks, coax him over. Use your voice, or lure him over, but get him over the bar.) And then of course click-treat and praise.
Once he is fluent at going over the bar. Raise the bar (to coin a phrase) just an inch or two. You don’t want him freaking out or stalling because he thinks it is too high for him to jump over, or knocking the bar off the standards.
Now it should be apparent that you are going to continue to raise the bar in those small increments, until Prince gets to his regulation height of the jump. Each time he makes a successful jump, never be stingy with the clicks, treats, or praise.
Depending on you your level of fitness, this is where you might just want to run beside him as he clears the bar. Just don’t forget to teach him from all angles.
I would be irresponsible not to remind you that jumping takes strength, timing, and coordination. By taking it slow, you are helping Prince by giving him the time to develop all three of those requirements for an appealing graceful jump.