Collar Training for the Schutzhund Dog
Part V - Jumping
By Jim &
Phyllis Dobbs and Alice Woodyard
In the last
four articles, we covered selection of equipment,
fitting the collar to the dog, and basic principles
that apply whenever training with electronic
collars. We explained how to start the "three action
introduction" to the electronic collar, and how to
develop a reliable retrieve. Lastly, we covered the
send out exercise.
The wall jump -- an
important part of the SchH III exercise.
problems with the jumping exercise can be avoided by
teaching the dog a good jumping form. In the first
part of this article, we will explain how we teach
correct jumping form to a dog.
jumping style does not directly involve the use of
the electronic collar. But you will use your
e-collar to eliminate the dog's options to avoid the
exercise. These options (familiar to all dog
trainers) include 1) not leaving the handler, 2)
going around the jump, 3) not retrieving and 4) not
e-collar for these problems is more effective than
using the cumbersome long line. Corrections are much
better timed with the e-collar, so it takes fewer of
them for the dog to understand. Furthermore, the
e-collar is safer to use with the jumping exercises
because it cannot tangle around the dog's legs or
that habitually touch the top of the jump, another
device is available that incorporates mild
electrical stimulation. It is known as a jump bar
and is available through the Dobbs Training Center.
The brush jump. Note
that ground bars are in place to help the
dog guage the proper take-off point and keep
him from coming too close to the jump.
Extended uprights are a guide in training
and should be eliminated before trialing.
brush jump before you teach the wall jump. Introduce
jumping with the brush jump set very low-not
exceeding 12 inches. You should only raise the jump
gradually in increments as the dog develops proper
motor skills. A common mistake is to raise the jump
to full height too soon. This will encourage the dog
to seek ways to avoid jumping because he is simply
afraid that he physically can't make the
dog on leash beside you, trot him over the jump a
few times. At first, you may want to go over the
jump with him. As he becomes confident, you can run
along beside the jump.
the dog takes off over the jump, say your jump
command. Praise him with enthusiasm every time he
important! Never jerk or pull the leash as the dog
takes off, or as he is going over the jump! This
will do nothing for the dog but make him associate
discomfort with jumping. It will also interfere with
his concentration on the jump. It will teach him a
bad jumping form: holding his head up, dropping his
head back and dangling his legs as he goes over the
jump. If your dog develops a form like this, he will
have trouble clearing jumps at higher heights. A dog
with an efficient jumping style lowers his head as
he takes off, tucks up his feet, and rounds his back
as he clears the top of the jump. So always leave
the leash slack when you run the dog over the jump.
the dog off the leash and leave him on a sit about
10 feet away from the jump. Walk to the other side
of the jump, stand right in front of it and face the
dog. Lean down, tap the top of the jump, and command
the dog to jump. As he approaches, back up so he has
room to land. Don't forget lots of praise for every
the jump to the height of the dog's withers.
Continue calling the dog over it with your jump
command. Gradually, back your position up until you
can call the dog to jump from about 30 feet away.
stage, you should introduce ground bars, which
should be in place every time you have the dog jump
until the dog's form has been set. Ground bars are
white bars placed parallel with the jump on each
side of it. They can be pieces of 2 x 4, plastic
rain gutter, etc. If you have an obedience broad
jump, two boards from the broad jump are ideal.
of ground bars is to prevent the dog from getting in
the habit of taking off too close to the jump. Each
ground bar should be as far from the jump as the
jump is high. Therefore, as you raise the height of
the jump, move your ground bars out.
the Dog Not to Go Around the Jump
point, the dog has to use a little effort to jump,
and may start going around the jump. You are going
to use your e-collar to teach the dog not to do this
by using brief, low level electrical stimulation
just as the dog comes along side the jump. We'll
tell you exactly how in a moment. But first, you
must understand that this use of the e-collar is
different than any use you've made of it previously.
You are going to use it to give "environmental
corrections." An environmental correction is a
correction that the dog associates with the
environment (i.e., the area along side the jump is
an uncomfortable place to be). The dog does not
associate an environmental correction with his
failure to perform a command. Therefore, do
not give any command when you press the button
for an environmental correction. You want the
dog just thinking "Hey, that wasn't the easy route
incorporate an environmental correction into the
jumping exercise, have your transmitter in your hand
and your finger on the button; your timing must be
precise. Watch the dog as you call him and just as
he rounds the side of the jump, press the low
button. Release it almost immediately. Using low
"Nick" or momentary is ideal. Say absolutely nothing
during this process.
shown the dog what is unpleasant, give him a
comparison: going over the jump is more pleasant. To
prevent the dog from going around the jump and being
corrected twice in a row (in which case, he would
not receive the comparison he needs) simplify the
task to that he will be successful. Take him back to
the same side of the jump that he started from when
he ran around. Go to the opposite side of the jump
and stand right in front of it. Tap the top of the
jump as you call the dog over it. After he has
succeeded, increase the difficulty by going back to
your starting point, and repeat. Give him praise
whenever he jumps.
e-collar in this way whenever the dog runs around,
followed by a positive comparison - simplifying the
task so you know he'll get it right.
After a few
repetitions of this sequence, you will often see a
dog start to go around the jump and then change his
mind and swerve to clear the jump instead. When the
dog shows understanding of the correction, you can
proof him by moving his starting point and yours
both farther away from the jump until you are each
about 50 feet away from it. The jump should be in
line with the two of you.
for environmental corrections to be effective in
teaching the dog not to skirt around the jump, three
things are necessary:
dog must have a chance to make a comparison- going
around the jump is uncomfortable, going over it is
comfortable by comparison. Therefore, every time you
have given the dog a correction for going around,
you must arrange it so next time the dog will go
over the jump without question. You can do this
by leaving the dog closer to the jump before you
call, and/or you standing closer to the jump when
electrical stimulation must not be so strong that
the dog perceives the entire exercise as unpleasant
and doesn't want to jump anymore. You should use a
lower intensity plug and/or a lower transmitter
button than you would use if the dog failed to obey
a command. If your e-collar has momentary
stimulation, this is an ideal time to use it at a
stimulation must occur only as the dog comes along
side the jump. Do not start it the moment you
first see that the dog will run around the jump. Do
not continue to hold the button down after the dog
has passed by the jump and is coming to you. In
order to make the comparison; the dog has to
perceive only the areas at the sides of the jump
as unpleasant, not anywhere else. See the diagram #1
for where to apply the electrical stimulation.
your dog knows not to run around the jumps, you
should set up a series of jumps in a row and call
the dog over them repeatedly to develop the dog's
condition, confidence and proper stride.
practice this with a minimum of three jumps.
Initially, set the height at the height of the dog's
withers. Set the jumps up on a lawn and not a hard
surface like pavement where repeated jumping could
far apart you space the jumps is extremely
important. You want the dog to be able to take
exactly one smooth, unconstricted galloping stride
after landing and before taking off for the next
jump. He should take off about as far away from each
jump as the jump is high. See diagram #2.
To get your
jump spacing correct, you or a friend must watch the
dog do the jump series from the side. Adjust the
spacing of the jumps until it is proper. Then pace
the distance off between the jumps and use the same
distance every time you set up.
raise the jump height, you will usually need to
lengthen the distance between the jumps. Be sure to
check the dog's style from the side again every time
you raise the jumps.
Tapping on the top of
the jump will focus the dog on it as you
competition-sized dumbell in a recall over
the jump will develop the dog's confidence
introduce the dog to doing a series of jumps, start
by calling him over the last one, then call him over
the last two, then the last three, etc.
If the dog
runs around a jump (and he almost certainly will at
some time), "nick" him with the e-collar just as he
comes along side the jump. Then repeat the jump
alone before returning to the sequence.
After a few
sessions of training on the jump series, start
having the dog carry his competition-sized dumbbell
over all the jumps every time you jump him. Many
trainers overlook this important step. Overlooking
it can lead to trouble later in maintaining the
dog's speed and style when the retrieve is added,
because the dog feels awkward jumping with the
dumbbell in his mouth. (You should have already
taught the dog to hold and carry properly. See Part
III of this series)
several sessions of jumping the dog at the height of
his withers, gradually add height to the jumps.
Slowly work up as the sessions progress, until the
jumps are at full trial height. As you approach this
height, reduce the number of jumps in your series to
just three, as this is a strenuous exercise for a
dog. Do not repeat the series more than a few times
in a session, because an exhausted dog will begin to
make many mistakes and develop a bad attitude.
your dog is comfortable jumping, it is time to add
the retrieve. Use just one jump, and have the ground
bars in place.
jump to the height of the dog's withers. Even though
your dog is comfortable jumping, you need to be able
to see him easily on the other side of the jump so
you can correct any retrieve problems. It is very
important that the dog's retrieving style not be
allowed to deteriorate just because there is a jump
between you and him.
you sit the dog in front of the jump for the
dumbbell toss, be sure he is at the correct distance
from the jump for his stride (see diagram #3). Have
someone check his performance from the side view and
adjust accordingly. (As with the jump series, you
will normally need to increase the distance as you
raise the jump). Once you know the distance that is
comfortable for your dog, keep it the same every
As the dog
gains proficiency and you can see that he does not
have any retrieve problems, gradually raise the
jump, adjusting the ground bars each time, until the
dog is jumping the full height.
Use the Electronic Collar
Here is how
to use the e-collar for problems with the retrieve
over the jump.
runs around the jump going or coming. Use
the "environmental correction" method-a quick
"nick" at the side of the jump followed by a
If the dog refuses
to jump in the first command, leave him
on sit, step in front of him and press
the button as you command "Heel."
Release the button when he has come to
heel and repeat your jump command.
fails to go on first command. Leave the dog
on a sit, walk six feet in front of him still
facing the jump with your back to the dog, press
the transmitter button (on continuous mode) and
command him to heel. When he comes along side
you, release the button and repeat the command
to retrieve. Usually, one or two repetitions of
this procedure will convince the dog to go out
If you experience
problems with the retrieve after the dog
has jumped, go out to the dog and
reinforce "Bring" with the collar. Do
not let that nice retrieve you perfected
in Part III deteriorate now!
is slow picking up, or has other retrieve
problems with dumbbell. Walk out to the dog
and reinforce BRING using the e-collar just as
you would if he had the same problem with the
retrieve on the flat.
fails to return quickly once he has picked up.
Use the e-collar to reinforce HERE immediately
after pick up.
dog is comfortable with the basic retrieve over the
brush jump, you need to teach him to take the jump
on the way out and back even if the dumbbell lands
off to the side.
this concept by throwing an "X" pattern: you and dog
start off center to one side of the jump and the
dumbbell lands off center to the other side (see
diagram #4). The jump will still be between you and
the dumbbell, but the dog's path of travel will take
the jump at a slant. Start with slight angles and
progress to more severe ones. Work from both sides.
Correct going around the jump with the environmental
in front of the jump and throw the dumbbell off to
the right side of the jump, so that the dog can see
it lying on the ground (a certain temptation to run
around!). If the dog tries to bypass the jump, use
the environmental correction, "nicking" him with the
e-collar as he comes along side the jump.
restart the dog, take a step or two toward the jump
as you give your jump command. Praise him
enthusiastically when he picks up the dumbbell.
dog is reliable at dumbbell throws that are off
center to the right, repeat the procedure for off
center throws to the left. (Left is more difficult
than right because when the throw is to the left,
your body does not help block the dog from taking
the wrong route).
To teach the dog to
descend safely by using the rungs, tap each
rung to focus the dog on it as he starts
down. Note that the wall is lowered when the
dog is introduced to the exercise.
This dog will make a
safe descent by stepping on the rungs
instead of "bailing off" the top of the
wall. A safe descent using the rungs is the
correct style for the wall jump.
A dog that
has developed physical skills by jumping the brush
jump at gradually increasing heights easily masters
the wall jump.
the apex of the wall at about three feet, so that
the dog can easily see you over the top of it. Run
the dog over it on a loose leash. Encourage the dog
to charge up the wall, but not down it! Teach him to
use each rung as he comes down the wall by tapping
each rung with your hand and slowly enough that the
dog focuses on them. This will discourage him from
developing the style of "bailing off" the top of the
wall after the wall is raised, and it is important
to help prevent injury.
dog is comfortable, begin raising the wall gradually
until the top of it is about five feet high. Call
the dog over it toward you; have him carry his
dumbbell, just as you did with the jump series.
repetition at this stage, introduce the complete
retrieve exercise over the wall. Gradually add
height to the wall as the "bugs are worked out" and
your dog is giving you a confident, stylish
encounter problems, use the e-collar in the same way
as we recommended above for those problems with the
In our next
article in this series we will cover the blind