Those Pesky Spread Jumps in Dog Agility

sheltie jumpingJumps are jumps are jumps, right?  WRONG!  Each type of jump takes a different take off point, different form in the air and even different handling to help prepare your dog for the jump.  Two of the more difficult jumps are the Long or Broad Jump coming from the obedience ring and the Triple Jump with it roots in stadium jumping.

The broad jump challenge is for your dog to jump over the boards, not to run on top of them (which is automatic disqualification).  Easy mistake to make if this obstacle is not practiced enough!  They can be easily overlooked as a necessary obstacle to practice, however, the broad jump is fairly common at all levels of dog agility competition.

With the broad jump you have to adjust the height as well as the width of the jump in accordance with your dog’s height.  The boards come in 6 and 8 inch height sections.  Following AKC specs, if your dog jumps 12″ then your dog would jump the 24″ spread using three 6″ planks and three 8″ planks.

Triple jumps challenge dogs to jump high and wide whereas the broad jump was low and wide.  This complexity often leads to dogs tripping over these hurdles, or knocking bars.  It’s crucial to practice regularly with these jumps, so your dog learns to judge depth and height.  Competition standards call for the length of the jump to be double your dog’s jump height.  But we have three bars we are dealing with.  So, if your dog jumps at 12″, the back bar is 12″ high, and 12″ from the first bar, with the first bar set at 6, the middle at 9.

Starting on these jumps needs to be slow and in increments never moving to the next setting until your dog is solid on the current setting.  Start these jumps low – at half height – and narrow – one to two planks.  Gradually raise the bars and spread to the full height and width, and your dog will soar over them with no trouble!

Then be sure to mix things up with your triple and broad jumping.  Proofing them is what makes your dog solid on these jumps both in technique as well as your handling.  Work your dog off both sides, and put the jump in different sequences on the course.  Practice sending out to it, coming into it,  and taking it before and after another jump, tunnel, contact… make the obstacle easy for your dog to complete by proofing thoroughly!