How to Get Your Dog to Jump Hurdles

by Debra Levy
    Novice hurdle jumping requires low hurdles.

    Novice hurdle jumping requires low hurdles.

    Apple Tree House/Lifesize/Getty Images

    Jumping hurdles while navigating an obstacle course is a skill dogs must possess to compete in the sport of agility. Fortunately, hurdle-jumping is one of the easier, more natural skills for your dog to learn, whether he's an agility dog or you're just looking to have some fun.

    Step 1

    Set up hurdles by spacing two cans of the same size 3 to 4 feet apart. Start off with cans that are very low to the ground -- a couple of inches at most -- so your dog can step over them easily.

    Step 2

    Set the dowel rod, or bar, across the cans. Always make sure it can be knocked off easily; never secure the bar to the top of the cans.

    Step 3

    Lead your dog to the hurdle using a small treat, or kibble, keeping your hand down level with his dog's nose. Be sure to keep the treat or kibble close to his nose so he follows the scent.

    Step 4

    Continue moving your hand over the hurdle, using a special command of "jump" or "up" as you encourage your dog to jump or walk over the bar.

    Step 5

    Give lots of praise once he has cleared the hurdle, whether or not he jumps or walks over, and immediately give him the treat. Try the jump again. As he masters the jump, increase the height of the hurdle in gradual increments using larger sized cans, until he can jump a height appropriate for him.

    Items You Will Need

    • 2 cans of same size, with several sets of graduated sizes
    • Dowel rod or other horizontal bar
    • Small treats or kibble

    Tip

    • Dogs are natural jumpers, so your dog simply may jump the hurdle on the first try. Even so, always be sure to give lots of praise and a treat. Even if your dog balks at an attempt, or skirts around the bar, simply guide him back to the start and try again. Never punish or yell at a dog who will not jump.

    Warning

    • Never punish or yell at a dog who will not jump. Do not overdo jumping practice; a few practices each day is enough to train your dog to be a hurdle jumper. Finally, puppies never should be trained to jump. Their joints and muscles still are growing, and even simple jumps can cause injury.

    Photo Credits

    • Apple Tree House/Lifesize/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Debra Levy has been writing for more than 30 years. She has had fiction and nonfiction published in various literary journals. Levy holds an M.A. in English from Indiana University and an M.F.A. in creative writing/fiction from the Bennington Writing Seminars.

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