Tripping up on the Triple Jump
A blog member sent me an interesting question this week. She asked,”My dog is having trouble clearing the triple jump at AKC trials. He takes off too soon and hits the top bar with his front feet as he starts to descend prior to clearing all the bars. Any suggestions?”
Here are just a couple thoughts on the subject, and as for the rest, I am asking the ‘community’ to share their opinion to make this a collective response!
- If you don’t own a Triple Jump at home, it sounds like it would be a good idea. They are very ubiquitous in trials. For an affordable practice version click here. I am not trying to push a sale on these, but your dog needs more work understanding the jumping principle of a triple, and it will be hard to teach him if all you have is class time, and of course impossible once you hit a trial. 🙂
- Though it might look a little awkward, you can also improvise by placing 3 regular bar jumps close together.
- Assuming you have a triple jump, the next thought is… are the height adjustments adjusted properly for your dog? Triple jumps have a certain set-up for the 3 bars that is hard to explain in mere words, but basically your dog has to jump equally as long as he does tall. This is accomplished by an ascending (‘uphill’) spread pattern. If your dog is in the 24″ jump division, for example, he is not only going to be jumping 24″ in height, but the length of his jump (from the first bar in front, to the last bar in the back) will also be 24″. The middle bar falls at the halfway point.
- Your dog’s perception. Squint and stare at a triple and try to see what your dog sees. When looking straight on a Triple Jump, the bars can look like they are a regular bar jump, with one bar stacked over the other. If your dog sees it this way, he will jump high over the first bar (which is near the ground) thinking he is jumping over the tallest bar in the back at the same time, thus hitting the back bar because he is not leaping long enough. I believe some dogs have different depth perceptions than others, and also, if you have a dog with long hair in the face, it is important, at least for safety reasons, to keep it trimmed for agility.
- One idea is that you could start with (and I’d do this with beginner dogs who have never done a triple before) is to lower the height of the bars. This may seem like going back to ‘baby steps’, but by doing this your dog can visually see upon approach (and while jumping over it) that the bars are spread. When they are placed too high (that is, adjusted for his jump height division) your dog doesn’t see this until it’s too late. So again, if your dog is a 24″ jumper, then start by placing the back bar at just 12″ high, the front bar 12″ apart from it and just 2″ from the ground, and the middle bar inbetween these measurements. If this proves to be successful, you can then start inching the bars up in future training sessions.
Ok, everyone, I know this is NOT all the ideas that can be offered on this subject, sooo…. come on friends and trainers…what else can Kathy do? 🙂