Progressive Sending ~ Exploding Line of Jumps

An important early training objective with an agility dog in training is to create powerful obstacle focus for a winged hurdle, commonly called a “Jump”.

To tell the truth the Jump is often overlooked in training. You’ll see novice dogs in competition running around jumps but eagerly veering off-path to get into a pipe tunnel, or park themselves on a contact obstacle. A dog will go where they have a high reward association.

But we are not going to over-look the jump.

In the illustrations I’ve drawn here the young dog is introduced to the “Go On” command using Hoops (an obstacle notably used by NADAC in competition). My expectation is to begin the training with a very young dog… young enough to learn, but not old enough to be jumping. Later we’ll make the transition to jumps with displaceable bars.

BLOG1417_01

The moment you add a second Hoop… you are officially doing “sequencing” with your dog. This is actually an important introduction for the dog to the idea that performances will be a chain of events.

We graduate to two Hoops. The handler begins near to the seconds hoop before starting the dog. Each repetition the handler will start slightly farther back, until the dog is sending forward through both hoops while the handler stays behind.

BLOG1417_02

We start with the hoops placed very close together. In this drawing the hoops are only 3′ apart. Initially the handler will leave the dog on a stay and lead out nearly to the #3 hoop before starting.

BLOG1417_03

 

Only gradually the handler moves back toward the front of the line of hoops to send the dog forward.

You’ll notice in the video that our dog is very young and not every send has a successful conclusion. The basic training tool is to praise and reward when the dog gets it… a being very neutral, deny praise and reward when the dog does not.

From time to time you might use a “framing” obstacle at the end of the line of hoops or jumps. This is a dandy opportunity to accustom your dog to a progressive send into a pipe tunnel, for example.

BLOG1417_04

Only gradually the hoops should moved apart. And each time they are moved apart the handler will begin forward of the dog near the final hoop. And in each successive repetition the handler will move back down the line until he can make the send from behind the first hoop.

The only reason we’ve been using Hoops is that we were working with a very young dog. If you begin this with training a dog that is already grown and steady, you might begin with jumps. In any case, ta some point, the trainer will have to make a transition from Hoops to Jumps.

BLOG1417_05

Don’t lose sight of methodology. When the basic exercise changes the handler will begin forward of the dog, and only gradually move back toward the front of the line of jumps to send the dog forward.

In a few short months the exercise needs more and more room. That was the intention from the beginning. We want to teach the dog powerful obstacle focus for jumps and give the dog permission to go forward of the handler in the performance.

While we have not in this forum shared every grizzly moment of training, we’ve shown just enough to demonstrate that it is a continuity and a discipline.

In this video the dog trainer was clearly happy with his dog pleased with himself for his work. keep in mind that this is a basic skill that needs to be refreshed over the dog’s active career in agility.

Dedication

This blog post is dedicated to my small but enthusiastic Beginners class (Tuesday nights!). I’ve described this training exercise to them. A far better training tool is to provide them with pictures.

Dog Trainer

While engaged in this training the handler should exercise very basic dog training discipline.

  1. Focus on that thing you’re teaching:  Go On! This means that the dog should continue working forward.
  2. Have a good marker for performance. Use a clicker! Or, give a good verbal marker… “What a good boy!”
  3. Always reward a successful performance. This could be a food reward and it might be a game with a toy.
  4. If the dog fails you should back down on the escalation of the exercise. This might mean the hoops should be closer together; or the handler’s starting position should be farther forward.

Training Notes

  • The handler does the most significant “pointing” with his toes. When sending the dog straight away the handler should keep his toes pointed in the direction of the end obstacle. The most common error in these exercises will be the handler who not only turns in the wrong direction as the dog moves away, but actually moves at an angle away from the dog’s path.
  • The objective of the exercise described here is to teach the dog “Go On”, which means to continue working in the same direction. USE THE COMMAND to condition the dog to its meaning. the handler can’t teach the command to the dog if he doesn’t actually use it.
  • Discourage the use of an obedience command after successful completion of the sequence. This introduces a basic confusion in the dog’s mind. What is the reward for, doing the sequence, or responding to a recall?
  • the handler should begin with the dog on side (either side) facing in the direction of the send. The handler might take one or two steps only to straighten the line. As soon as possible the dog must be allowed to move forward. It’s a big error to run forward of the dog, and then slam on the brakes expecting the dog to continue working.

 

BLOG1417 HOME

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Jokers Notebook, a series of comprehensive training workbooks intended to teach a dog powerful skills of independent performance.


%d bloggers like this: