2-minute dog trainer, focusing on Jumpers

One of the last skills learned by agility dogs is jumping.

We introduce jumps fairly early, keeping the bars low, but often we neglect to reinforce the act of jumping or the skills needed to negotiate a line of jumps.

Frankly this is true of novices, experienced trainers, even folks with jumping systems.

The novice dog will attack a course with focus on their handler, on the contact equipment, on the weavepoles, or whatever their handler has been focusing on in recent training sessions.

Jumps are often taken for granted. They are, for sure, the weakest link in my training with Tempest.

My timeline for jump conditioning for Tempest is as follows:

July 2011:  With high temps I’ll be doing no drilling. I’m experimenting with the notion that Tempest keeps bars up when he’s working at a distance from me. At trials and in class he only drops bars when racing at my side, or if I’m turning away from him while he’s jumping.

August 2011:  We have 3 weekends with no trialing, and I want to set up some technical jumping sequences.  I want to experiment with different types of handling and figure out if slow dog handling or fast dog handling works best with Tempest.  I also want to set up some lines of jumps and figure out if the bars drop when we race because:  A) we’re racing,  or  B) he’s flattening out in straight lines.

September 2011:  With Tempest’s first USDAA trial looming large near the end of this month I want to establish whether Tempest should jump 24″ in AKC or stay in his 20″ jump class.  He has to jump 22″ in USDAA and he’ll drop most of those bars if he gets too accustomed to jumping 20″.  I’d rather teach him to jump nicely at 24″, with USDAA at 22″, than have to babysit him through a course at 20″ to make sure the bars stay up. Does that make sense?

October 2011:   October is going to be all about TDAA, I’m afraid.  We’re having a working seminar / judges’ recert weekend the first weekend of October, leaving on Tuesday for the Petit Prix warm-up workshops and national event, then we have three TDAA trialing weekends in a row (Ostrander OH, Springfield IL, Latrobe PA).  Tempest gets to do class and gets the rest of the month off.

November 2011:  Bud and I have yet to determine whether we’re going to enter trials during cold weather months.  Bud’s accident has created a negative opinion of winter travel, I’m afraid.  No …. seriously …. I’m afraid. <g>  We’ll see what happens.

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