Performing agility exercises with your dog is a great way for you both to keep fit. Most dogs enjoy the mental and physical challenge of agility training, even if this means simply negotiating some rudimentary obstacles. Teaching your dog to jump an obstacle incorporates elements of agility, obedience and good old fashioned play.
For this you will need some adjustable jumps, these can be anything from competition standard hurdles to two piles of books with a scarf draped across the top. The most important aspect of teaching your dog the jump is that it is done safely and that both of you have fun.
Shall we start?
With your dog present in front of you, erect both jumps, configuring them at low height and setting them ten feet apart. Do it again. Then walk your dog to a point between the obstacles. Aim the dog toward the High Jump, and issue the command, "Stay." Walk to an equidistant spot, relative to the obstacles and the dog. Emphatically point and step toward the High Jump and command, "Up."
As your dog sails over the correct jump, praise, "Good Pup," and take him back to the starting point. The dog may be apprehensive at first, so it is important to allow him do this in his own time. Jogging with him on lead towards the obstacle until he feels that he wants to jump it may work best.
After the dog has jumped the obstacle, command the dog to "Stay," return to a location opposite the animal, and repeat the exercise. Do the routine twice more, then end the session. By positioning yourself on the other side of the obstacle, you are incentivising your dog to get from point a to point b – via the jump. Your dog may attempt to find a way round the obstacle, so safely limiting these options is a good idea.
Most of all have fun as you learn. Send your photographs of your dog learning the high jump into us with your own top tips - we'd love to hear from you!