Training the Tire Obstacle

dog agility tire obstacleIt is important to understand that the Tire Jump is it’s own obstacle that needs to be taught to your dog and not just another kind of jump. There are several different styles of jumps that require individual training including the spread and broad jump. Just because your dog jumps it doesn’t mean it falls under the same training.

The tire jump, much like the window jump, requires your dog to not jump over something, but rather jump through something. Dog’s don’t generalize well and this is a prime example. It may not seem like a big deal to you because you see it as a jump, the dog however does not as is proven by the number of dogs that attempt to go under the tire or between the tire and the standard. They just don’t see it the same as a bar jump.

So how do you teach the tire obstacle? Shaping the tire obstacle leads to very consistent performance and is worth the extra time needed to teach it this way. To start off you will lay the tire portion of the obstacle flat on the ground and reward your dog for interacting with it. Looking at it, touching it with nose and or feet – think box games.

When they are comfortable with static interaction with the tire you will only reward when your dog puts a front foot or two inside the tire. When your dog is consistently placing both front feet inside the tire you will lift the edge of the tire opposite your dog so the tire is at an angle. Continue rewarding your dog for putting their front feet through the tire.Slowly raise the edge of the tire until it is perpendicular to the ground. Then reward your dog for walking through the tire.

At this point you are ready to place the tire back into it’s frame and set it at it’s lowest height. Reward your dog for going through the tire making sure you do not entice the dog to “back jump” the tire. Use a target, or throw a toy to keep your dog traveling through and away from the tire. You can start adding a verbal cue when your dog is consistently going through the tire.

It is important at this junction that you do not go too far too fast when raising the tire to your dog’s jump height. Doing so can scare or confuse your dog causing them to go under or around the tire. It is also important that you do not raise it too slowly as that can also cause them to crash as they developed muscle memory for the lower height.

If at any time your dog becomes confused, scared, or incorrectly completes the obstacle, go back in your training to the point the dog was last successful and start again. And as with all your training, keep it short, upbeat, fun and full of rewards so your dog will learn to love the obstacle and not build resentment for it.