How to Master Dog Agility’s Panel Jump

panelWe have heard it several times, “My dog had her first exposure to a panel jump at a trial this weekend and she refused it, what’s going on with her?” There are a few things that could cause your dog to refuse a panel jump, the same as any other obstacle they have never seen before a trial.

The first thing we tell folks is to be certain there are no physical reasons for the refusal. If the dog took all other obstacles and jumps without issue it most likely isn’t health related. However, we still think it is the best place to start. Once you rule out any physical issues such as joint pain, sore feet, long or broken toenails or sore muscles it’s time to look at other issue.

It could also be that the angle on the approach made your dog uncomfortable. If you have not been, now is the time to take time to work on jump wraps and angled approaches to jumps at home. Like any other jumping your dog has to learn distances, collection, and extension while jumping. They have to become comfortable with angled entries to jumps just as they do for weaves and practice is the best medicine. Start with small angles keeping the jumps low and gradually increase the angle. Then start raising the bar. Soon your dog will be confident with any angle entry.

The other issue is most likely the culprit. Your dog refused the new obstacle because, well, it’s new. At a trial is not the place to start learning new obstacles period. Know your venue and their choice of obstacles. Be sure your dog is exposed to them before you trial so there are no surprises. Especially with obstacles that block your dog’s sight of the other side, you need to show them there is indeed solid ground awaiting their landing. At home you will want to work with panels just like other new jumps, start low and only raise the bar when the dog is confident at the current height. Be sure to keep sessions short and upbeat if you dog is showing signs of stress. If at any point your dog balks, walk them around the jump so they can see the landing side and be sure to have plenty of tasty treats for those more timid dogs.

If you hit a wall, reach out for experienced help. Another set of eyes can do wonders for your training. It normally doesn’t take long for a dog to master the panel jump if you take it slow and use plenty of praise and tasty treats.