4 to 8 Dog Agility Jumps Makes Ideal Training

We are often asked, “How many jumps should I start with?” You can never have too many single jumps to practice agility. A good starting place is four jumps. This is the absolute minimum number of jumps that we recommend.

You can teach a variety of skills, drills, and exercises with four jumps. Four jumps will allow you to work on a short jump chute or jump grid. You can setup a “box” with your jumps and practice handling, collection, and 270 degree jumps. You can teach your dog jumping left and right. You can be outside the box and send your dog or you can handle from the inside of the box. Your jumps can be setup in a horizontal line, so that you can practice serpentines and treadles.

Go the next step and get eight jumps. Now you can setup two boxes with one introductory jump. You’ve now multiplied your drills that you can practice with your dog. Your jump grids can be of recommended size and quantity of jumps. You can also setup your jumps in a circle with the jump bars perpendicular to the circle or on the circumference of the circle. This pattern also enables you to train a variety of skills.

Your next consideration is a double jump and a triple jump. You could set two or three single jumps together to make your expanded jump, but having double and triple jump in your course work is really valuable to practice. We’ve seen many dogs run a clean course and the last obstacle is a triple and the dog is not prepared for it, and bang, down comes the bar.

You can really be ahead of the pack and have two sets of eight jumps. This is the ultimate in training because you can keep a jump grip up at all times that is separate from your course work, and have eight single jumps to have for course work. And when you include your double and triple, you can really practice all the jumping skills and drills necessary to get you those “Qs”.

Dog Agility Training for Your Puppy

You may be thinking, “When can I start agility training with my new puppy?” You can start immediately, with certain recommendations. Puppies are always learning, so every time you are with your pup you can be playing and socializing with agility in mind. Always remember, if you can control your puppies environment, you can teach and train the behaviors you want, left on their own, even in a fenced yard, puppies will learn and develop behaviors that later we may want or need to extinguish.

Expose your puppy to different surfaces. One of the first behaviors we teach our pups is “Box” or “Table”. This behavior transfers to the agility pause table. Lure pup up on a low pause table, treat them on the table. You can call the pause table anything you want. (If I was starting over I would name the pause table “Box” instead of “Table” for my dogs because on the agility course there is the potential to have too many “T” words, i.e. tunnel, tire, table, and teeter. The problem is I am also a creature of habit, and under pressure revert back to my default words, “table” would be one of them.)

Teach your pup to “Box”, meaning to get up on a variety of obstacles. In our training field we use “Box” for upside down kennel tops, the bottom of barrels turned upside down, bird crates, and more. Be creative with your pup, get them to get up on all kinds of surfaces, exposing them to different shapes, sizes, and textures. Once your pup is comfortable getting up on a “Box”, then you can begin to ask them to sit on the box also.

You can also begin to use Buja boards for motion training. Buja boards are generally made from plywood, 36″ x 36″ with a painted surface or covered surface. On the underside, there is a 2×4 box where a partially deflated ball is placed. This enables the Buja board to rock gently. At first you can reward your pup for getting one paw on the board, then reward for two feet and eventually all four. Depending on your pups temperament will determine how fast they get comfortable on the Buja Board.

Perch training can also be started with young pups. The Perch is generally a 1’x1′ wood surface that is raised by 2″x4″‘s underneath. So the Perch is about four inches in height. The Perch helps teach pups rear end awareness. Again, you can reward your pup for getting one front paw on the perch and then the other. Perch training is mostly used with just the front paws on the Perch.

These are just a few behaviors you can teach your young pup. Exposure to a variety of surfaces and heights will help your pup build confidence in his future agility training.