Jumps in Dog Agility
We all know that different organizations have some of their own obstacles and that some have even been dropped due to safety issues. But I am confident all organizations with continue to have the mainstay obstacle of dog agility, the jump. There is a wide variety of jump designs from the UKC Window jump to the basic Bar Jumps. At first it may seem like the dog should jump them all once you start jumping. However, each jump has a skill set it is challenging. If you would like to purchase any of these jumps, simply click on the picture and look at all we have to offer.
For example the simple single bar jump seems easy enough until you understand they are set up in lines with varying strides per line challenging the dog to see if it can and will adjust it’s stride in order to take off at the correct point to allow a clean jump. They can also be set in serpentine patterns to challenge the dog’s ability to handle wraps and turns after the jump.
Add another bar to the back of the simple single bar jump and you now have the double jump that not only tests your dogs ability to negotiate the height and angle of the jump but also the width. It can be deceptive to the dog upon approach if the dog has never worked with the double jump in that it appears to be another single jump until the dog is right on it. Many a dog will knock the back bar off when they fail to compensate for the depth of this jump.
Why are wing jumps used so much in trials? You’ll see a lot of wing jumps at agility competitions. This is because it takes the relatively simple act of jumping to another level… getting your dog to jump farther away from you. For many dogs who are more ‘clingy’ to their owner’s sides (and for some owners who like them closer), this presents a challenge. It also adds a challenge to the team if they need to wrap a jump as the dog cannot land as close to the wing jump as the regular standards.
The Wings come in as many different designs as a jump designer can think of such as the Barricade, French, Starburst, Lattice and Banner Wings Pair. In areas were wind is an issue all our wings except the Banner style allow air to flow through without toppling the jump.
There is also the triple or spread jump which is not seen often on the home dog agility course, but it is well worth the time to practice it in the chance you should encounter it at a competition. Like the double it really challenges the dog’s ability to jump long as well as wide. Like the double could confuse your dog’s perception causing them to jump too high and too shallow if they have never encountered this type of jump and do not know how to adjust their jumping to accommodate the breadth.
A very common jump you will come across in dog agility is the tire jump. There have been changes and modifications to courses as well as the tire obstacle itself in the past years as dogs become better and faster and thus injured on this obstacle. One of these changes was to lower the height of the jump the other was the use of the displace-able or breakaway tire. If the dog hits the tire with force, instead of the dog tumbling head of tail and sustaining injuries, the breakaway tire will open and let the dog travel through virtually unharmed. Strong magnets hold the tire together and then grab the tire back into place after the “crash.” More and more clubs and organizations are requiring this tire in the competition setting. Some judges will not allow anything else on the field if they are judging.
Panel jumps are also used in obedience training and should be approached as a new obstacle rather than treating them as just another jump. This jump challenges your dogs trust in you and themselves as they are literally jumping in the blind. They cannot see behind the jump to where they are landing and must learn you will never ask them to jump into something that could harm them. Just like other jump training, you want to start out low and only build height to the jump as your dog show confidence at the current level. At competition many times you are allowed to walk the course with your dog. If you have a dog that has issue with the panel jump you will want to take this time to let your dog move around that jump.
Another jump of that same kind of difficulty is the Window Jump. The UKC and K-9 units use window jumps in competition and training. This jump requires precision and implicit trust in the handler. Your dog can not see what is on the other side of the jump (a drop, a walkway? It could be anything!) and has to jump clear through the opening.
Training a window jump is like a combination of the tire and panel jump training. The dog must learn to navigate the opening as well as jump in the blind. Take your time and just like the tire and panel jumps, start low and build only when your dog is confident at the current height. And be sure to take these jumps to other areas to practice to build your dog’s confidence in you and themselves.
Another obedience cross over jump is the broad jump. This jump can be a challenge in the training ring as it is hard for some dogs to understand they are to jump over it and not on it. However, once they learn that concept they are good to go. Take off point is extremely important with this jump as well as the distance the dog has to jump for their division is long enough without adding unnecessary inches to the front end. It is also important they get a straight shot and the handler does not unintentional pull them to one side while landing as both could cause the dog to clip the last board.
So the next time you talk about dog agility to someone let them know the complexity of the jumping aspect of the sport. You are not just “throwing” your dog at some bars and hoping for the best. You take time to teach your dog proper form and technique for each of the challenges you might face at competition. Also, know this isn’t an exhaustive list of jump obstacles. If you are going to be competing in a club or organization ring, be sure to check out their rules and obstacle list before heading to competition. Remember, if dog agility was easy, everyone would be doing it.