Dog Agility Jump Height Confusion

agility, dog, jumping, active, activity, animal, canine, competition, obstacle, course, domestic, jump, breed, pet, speed, sport, fast, fun, training, hurdle, sportive, competitive, outdoor, happy, victory, agile, effortOne of the more confusing aspects when starting into Dog Agility is that of jump height and divisions.  Each club and Association has it’s own standards for each height division so it is best to check with your club or Association rules before heading to a competition so you know what will be expected from your dog.

For example the UKC breaks down heights into four categories while Canine Performance Events and the AKC have five divisions as well as Standard, Junior and Veterans divisions.  And while the UKC and Canine Performance sets a height range such as over 10 inches to 14 inches, the AKC and NADAC set the divisions as that wither height and under like 11 inches and under or 14 inches and under.

So how do you train for these differences?  Chloe had an incident where her dog measured different between two different shows.

Chloe asked, “I am currently competing with my small collie cross, Morgan, over different jump heights. It all depends on who is running the show that I’ve entered. At one show he is classified as a medium dog and jumps over 20 inches (51 cm) and at another he is considered a mini dog and jumps over 15 inches (38 cm). Morgan doesn’t seem to have any trouble adjusting from one to the other and back again, but he does knock a few poles now and again. Should I stick to just one jump height?

Dogs that are caught right at the dividing mark will run into this problem a lot. This is why it is important to know your dog’s height and if applicable, securing a jump card for your dog to help avoid these issues. However, if you cross enter into other clubs or dog agility association venues you may have to follow these guidelines…

Mary Ann Nester, T.F.H. of Dog Agility Training answered Chloe, “Five inches can make a big difference to some dogs. If you have a dog that can make the transition from 15 to 20 inches and back again without a problem, you are very lucky. Five inches can make a lot of difference to some dogs. Morgan must check the height of the pole, adjust his take off to sail over the top and nail his landing. The taller the jumps, the more rounded and less flat he will be going over the poles. Morgan is either a natural jumper or you have trained him very well. And the extra five inches can make a lot of different to some handlers!

Morgan may be faster over lower jumps and it may be more difficult to keep up with him. You have to be quicker to get in position and you need to give your commands a little sooner. Over the higher jumps you need to reset your timing once again. There is a little more time to get where you want to be on the course. So often it is the handler who has the most trouble adjusting between jump heights and will favor one over the other. You do not seem to have a preference and can compete happily at either height”

Mary goes on to help Chloe and Morgan adjust to these changes once at a competition by saying, “Take a few practice jumps with you to the show. Set them to the height at which you will be competing and do a few jumping exercises with Morgan. This will not only allow Morgan to set his sights on the height he will be working over, but it will give you the change to brush up on your timing. Sticking to one jump height would certainly make things easier for both you and Morgan, but if you enjoy going to different shows and have no problem competing over different jump heights, why stop?”

As for Morgan’s issue with dropping poles, Mary doesn’t feel it is due to the change in height but rather something in Morgan’s jump strategy.  Mary has great closing comments for Chloe and Morgan, “When he becomes an old dog, Morgan may find the extra five inches more difficult. Then it will be time to reassess his jumping style and think about sticking to one type of class, but while he is fit and healthy I see no reason why you can’t have fun doing both heights.”

Used with permission. From Questions and Answers on Dog Agility Training, by Mary Ann Nester, T.F.H. Publications Visit Mary Ann at