The Clear Jump
The clear jump is the easiest of the 3 jumps.
Bearing in mind the control work we have done in the previous article, I like to start with the dog sitting about 3 ft from the jump, which is set at about 18 inches - low enough to present the dog with no difficulty, but high enough for the dog to recognize it has to be jumped. The first few times I simply ease the dog into forward movement and induce it to hop over the jump while still on the lead. As soon as the dog is clear of the jump I produce a small rubber ring from my pocket and throw it a few feet in front of the dog; when the dog has picked up the ring, I call it back in a relaxed manner, and when it arrives I instigate a game of tug, sometimes letting the dog win and “Strut its Stuff”. After a few seconds I repeat the jump. I like to start the exercise from the sit because you are starting the dog in a stable mental state created by the stable position; the ideal mental state is for the dog to be calm and confident, this will allow the dog to learn. After a few repetitions I start putting the down in before the toy is thrown. A large proportion of handlers try and put a “Good boy” in before they give the down command. This causes everything to become rushed and it’s usual for the dog to end up wandering about. I find if the down is properly taught the dog will quickly associate praise or the delivery of the toy with the exercise as a whole, making the control and the dog’s understanding clearer.
During the first couple of sessions I will become random in the delivery of the ring; sometimes it will be thrown for the dog to catch while it is still in the down, (this might have to be practiced away from the jump), sometimes I will throw the ring so it lands beyond the dog upright so it will roll. Doing this intermittently will keep the dog’s focus forward and avoid it starting to jump sideways looking back for the toy. By randomly mixing control and motivation will allow the dog to become relaxed, focused and determined to complete the jump.
Once the dog has learned the format that is the clear jump, it will be possible to increase the height to the required 3 ft. As the height increases, the dog’s style of jumping will have to be taken into account. Some dogs require to be a few feet from the jump, some closer.
A word of warning - you very often see people use a very long run-up, almost agility style. This can cause problems with the trajectory of the dog’s jump flattening with the speed and becoming casual with possible accidents as a result.
Another word of warning - many repetitions of any of the jumps can cause any dog to become fatigued; even very fit ones will quickly loose motivation if it is over done..