Avoid Tire Jump Obstacle Crashes
There isn’t much out there on the teaching of the tire obstacle and you are left to assume that is because it is treated as a jump. However, from the dog’s eye view the tire is a wholly different obstacle with its own dangers and challenges.
The center diameter where the dog jumps through can be from 19” – 24” which makes them more universal than long ago, but still is a big difference. This means that if you show in different venues your dog will have to know and be comfortable with negotiating different sizes. They are the same in that they measure the height at the bottom of the opening of the tire. However, the larger the dog the higher he will have to jump as that bottom measurement is to narrow to clear. Unlike a bar jump, the larger the dog and the smaller the interior diameter, he must gauge his take off to be directly at the center horizontally meaning he has maybe 12-16” of leeway.
Also, unlike the bar jump if the dog takes off too early they cannot just “knock a bar,” they will meet with a solid and unyielding obstacle with little to no give. This means that if the dog hits the tire for any number of reasons, it will send them flipping through the air. There are cases where a dog has hit with enough force and the frame was not strong enough to withstand it. This causes the dog to take the entire tire and framework down onto themselves.
Another element that adds to the difficulty of the tire is that not all courses use the tire obstacle. In fact, it is usually saved for the Standard runs along with the table obstacle. So, your dog has limited exposure to the tire in competition. This means you need to work more on it at home so they can make their mistakes at home and not on a competition run.
Then how do you keep your dog safe? One way is to be sure the completion venue employs a displace-able tire. This simple upgrade insures that if your dog were to come into hard contact with the tire it will come free allowing the dog to pass through without being flipped or the dog taking down the entire obstacle.
If your local venues do not employ a displace-able tire obstacle then you have a choice to make. You can opt not to run those courses or you can spend time at home practicing the tire so your dog will learn proper striding to the jump, collection and proper take off points. You also need to learn how to set your dog up and help him collect for the tire obstacle as well as working with the proper interior diameter for the venues you will be competing in.
Even if the venue you compete at uses the displace-able tire you need to do your homework. Some dogs get startled if they hit the displace-able tire as it comes apart then snaps back together. Other dogs learn that the tire will move so they become careless in executing the obstacle much like a bar jump. Your dog needs to learn how to handle the displaceable tire without fear or carelessness.
If it seems like this obstacle causes a lot of trouble, think how much time is put into executing the weaves or the contact obstacles especially the teeter. One good scare on those will send you back to foundation work as well. There is so much work that goes into handling on jumps as well with wraps, crosses and collection to keep a dog running clean. And the chute holds it’s own challenges as well especially if your dog gets tangled inside one. There needs to be equal time spent on the tire obstacle as it is its own obstacle and should not be glazed over as another kind of jump. In this way, coupled with the displace-able tire, you can run your course with confidence and your dog will be prepared and safe with the tire obstacle.
At a minimum look for a displaceable tire, the new break away ones are even better.