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? 🙂
Thanks for all the great ideas!
If you are having the problem of your dog taking off too soon and knocking the top bar try teaching him to get closer to the jump before taking off. You can do this several ways. One is to lay a bar on the ground where he normally takes off. You may have to use 2 bars. This should break his long stride and make him collect for the jump. Also work the dog on a jump chute. This is a long straight line of jumps with different spacing. You may have to put up fencing on both sides of the jumps to keep the dog in line with the jumps. The first time I run a new dog down the jump chute they normally blast off full bore and will certainly knock bars. The second time through is very enlightening. The dog normally is more collected and pays more attention to where it is taking off. There will still be knocked bars until the dog really gets the idea of control. Also, if you measure the distance of the take off point to a single jump and the landing distance from the jump I would imagine you will find that he is early on most jumps. He is probably athletic enough to clear all but the triple.
Good suggestions all. I use ‘Big’ instead of ‘jump’ as a command for both doubles and triples, and make sure to say it early enough, and it really helped. Also, change up the look of the triple. Use 1 bar and put it on the front most standard, then put it on the middle, then the end — mixing it up. Then use 2 bars and mix them up — first and second standard, 2nd & 3rd, 1st & 3rd. Then use all 3. (When starting this, make it easier by keeping the bars lower and then moving up to the dog’s regulation height). Remember some venues also use cross bars under the last standard so try that also (bars with one side on the standard, other side on the ground to form an ‘X’ under the jump bar).
My dog has a tendency to launch at at her jumps. We normally compete at 16″, but we exhausted all our options in AKC (preferred) so now she has to jump at her regular height of 20″. She has lots of air in her jumps so it’s not the height, it’s where she takes off. The cavalettis at home help to space her stride, but she forgets herself in the heat of competition so “BIG” is the added cue she gets. I understand the depth perception issue myself. I have the same problem so correcting the stride is probably the best bet.
for dogs with a depth perception problem, you can use a verbal cue as well. i know some people use ‘big jump!’ when going over the broad jump, to differentiate it from a regular, single jump. by using a specific verbal cue, you can let them know as they’re getting to it – so even if they can’t tell until get they get closer, they’ll know they need to jump bigger and wider.
I would suggest going back to cavalettis helping the dog to know its take off point. I know they are not spread but taking off too soon can be fixed this way.
Add something to the top bar to make it more visible in practice.
Try pinning a towel over the bar or putting one of those swimming pool noodles over it.
If you don’t own a triple for practice at home, three single jumps, properly spaced, work fine.
A year ago I had the same problem with my springer, what I did to fix that was I calculated the exact spot where she was suppose to take off to clear the jump, then I put a tunnel maybe just a foot or 2 from the take off point. It worked, she ran into the tunnel and had to jump the triple right after it, I’ve done this for a while and also cue her to jump not too early before the triple and it worked, she has never knocked the last bar again.