Broad Jump Confessional
I have a confession. When I got to my first competition I saw that they had a Broad Jump in the ring. I panicked. I know you are not supposed to bring any equipment or practice on trial grounds (except for the single bar jump they provide for warm-ups), but I realized my dog was unprepared for this unusual jump! So I did something I shouldn’t have. I snuck around in the back hedgerows of the trial and found a square flat piece of wood and binge-trained my poor dog right there!”
– An Agility Student
Oh my, don’t do this again! You could have been disqualified. I understand why you felt unprepared though, as the Broad Jump is often neglected in agility class training. Instead, you need to get a set for home and practice all you want. You’ll compete with confidence, and your dog will feel less pressured too.
What is the Broad Jump?The Broad Jump is composed of either four or five panels of different heights that are arranged so that the shortest is in the front of the jump and longest towards the back. How many panels you use depends on your dog’s size. Click here for a handy chart.
Why is the Broad Jump challenging?Your dog must jump all panel sections without visibly moving or stepping on any of the panels. Sounds easy? Well, the real challenge is that a dog often sees the Broad Jump as a contact, not a jump. It looks like a take-off ramp!
Method 1: The simplest method to teach your dog to jump over it (not on top of it) is to change the way the obstacle looks. Tip each panel forward so that they are lying on their sides. Start with one panel and increase the amount if your dog is larger. Then you can later tip them back the way they are intended to be. If your dog is failing to jump the obstacle and is trying to run over it, go back in your training, or take one of the panels away.
Method 2: Another method is to set a bar jump at the height of the highest panel, behind the highest panel. Seeing the familiar bar jump behind the obstacle gives your dog the visual cue of ‘jump’. The panels in front of the familiar jump become part of that ‘jump’ command, and he will learn to clear the panels and the jump. Phase the bar jump out once you’re certain he has the concept of clearing the panels.
Call Word: Use the ‘jump’ command as with other jumps. Some people prefer to say ‘big jump!’ or another obstacle specific command. Choose what works best for you and your dog, but be consistent.
Practice Makes Perfect!
Whatever method you choose, be patient. Rome was not built in a day, and rare indeed is the dog that learns to complete a broad jump in a day (or one training class!). You can use either a competition, or a practice broad jump to train your dog this difficult process. Keep your sessions short and fun, and always end on a positive note!