Sunday, 11 August 2013
Jumping skills - often forgotten?
So we all know that dogs can jump. But that doesn't mean that they know how to jump well! Every dog can throw itself over a log in the woods, or manage an ungainly leap up onto the sofa, but that doesn't mean that they have the skills in place to jump efficiently and effectively at Agility training, and so it falls to us to put effort into teaching them these skills if we wish to give them the best chance of jumping successfully and safely (because good jumping skills are important in ensuring the safety of our dogs). Sadly these jumping basics are often forgotten or overlooked in Agility classes, and perhaps this is something we should spend more time concentrating on, given that an Agility course is primarily composed of jumps?
So what are we talking about when we talk about jumping skills?
What are we trying to teach our dogs? We're trying to teach them to read and understand the path they must take through the jumps, to judge the distance between the jumps, to pick an appropriate take off spot, to transfer their weight to their hindquarters, to judge the angle of elevation needed to clear the jump, and lastly to judge the height of the jump (but this is the least important bit as it's the easiest to produce if the dog understands all the other bits!!).
And how do we go about teaching all this?
Well, here we must look to the equestrian world for inspiration, as the show jumpers spend many hours teaching their horses how to jump well (and perhaps we'd spend longer on it if we had to be strapped to the back of our dogs!!). The leading light at transferring this information from show jumping to Agility is trainer Susan Salo who has produced a great range of DVDs that show us how, we just need to invest a bit of time into following the exercises through.
Want to give it a go with your dog?
Come and join us! Monkey Mutts is running a Beginners and Advanced Jumping Skills and Grids session on Saturday 14th September in our field in Camerton, near Bath. More details on our website!
The Beginners session is open to complete newbies who have never done agility before but think they might like to give it a go, or to dogs who have done some agility but haven't done much specific grid work before.
The Advanced session is open to those Agility dogs who have done some previous Grids work and would like to push on and challenge their dog's jumping skills.