Bar Jump Safety in Dog Agility

competition_jump_freestandingThere is a rising concern in the safety of the bar jump standards and their jump cups.  Unlike the jumps used in horse jumping, the dog agility jumps have permanent jump cups at every measurement for ease and speed of height changes in competition.  This has lead to injuries sustained by dogs when they hit the standard incorrectly and catch a higher jump cup with their face or limbs.  The biggest issue has been with the older standards that are made from welded angle iron on metal standards coupled with a bottom brace bar used to create a “fixed base” design.  Again, made for durability and solid structure for competitions these heavy and rightly so, sturdy designs have little to no give when a dog collides with them.

Here is some good news on the subject, in a study done by I. Martin Levy, M.D., Charles B. Hall, Ph.D., Natasha Trentacosta, and Monica Percival in conjunction with Clean Run magazine.  Only about 1% of all injuries in and out of the competition ring reported by the 1,600 responders were to the head of the dogs and less than 1% of all injuries to dogs occur to the eye.  Out of all the injuries reported associated with the bar jump only about 2% were to the head and about 1% to the eye itself.  However, if your dog becomes one of those in the 1% you will agree that the standards and jump cups need to be as safe as possible.

economy_jumpFor home practice and even small clubs it is fairly easy to make the change with our economy jump set.  This jump utilizes a smaller pipe size and a SINGLE pair of snap-on “cups” to hold up the top bar.  Like our competition jumps, the top bar displaces (falls off) if the dog hits it, and the bottom bar is “fixed”, allowing you to pick up the jump and move it without the bars falling off.  The top bar is adjustable by sliding the jump cups up and down.  The cups are designed according to AKC standards. Click HERE to read more about this super set up that is economic and versatile.

For a sturdy design that is still more forgiving is the freestanding base of our competition grade bar jumps.  New improvements have made our Competition Jump simply perfect.  It starts by meeting all the standards for AKC, USDAA and TDAA trials. There are 12 height adjustments from 4″ to 26″ (every 2″) and the heights are clearly marked (engraved) on the side bars for quick and easy changes.  The jump cups are permanently fixed and will not slide off their measurement.  Click HERE to read more about this affordable and safe competition grade PVC bar jump with freestanding base.

So what can be done to increase the safety of our dogs in competition?  The use of PVC standards and the total elimination of the older metal style bar jumps should be the first step.  Where possible the freestanding bases provide further protection to dogs jumping as they will have even more give upon impact.  Many organizations have already begun the change over to PVC standards.  This alone makes a huge difference as any PVC jumps, fixed or freestanding, are far more likely to give on impact and the edges of the PVC cups can be made smoother.  On a competition course it may not be efficient to use the independent standards, but having PVC instead of metal is a huge step in the right direction.