Teaching your dog a jump is an essential skill for canine sports such as agility. In fact, a standard agility course includes 15 or more jumps! Teaching a jump also helps build your relationship with your dog as well as your dog’s physical strength. It is a skill that any size dog can learn. However, be sure to check with your veterinarian to ensure that jumping is a safe activity for your dog.
Pivoting, a behavior that requires a dog to change direction by moving her rear end while keeping her feet in place, is an essential skill for many canine sports including obedience, rally, freestyle, agility, and more. It is also a terrific way to work on hind-end awareness.
Teaching your dog to hold an object builds a solid foundation for teaching advanced behaviors for dog sports, such as retrieve. To teach the hold behavior, choose an object that your dog likes and hold it in front of your dog’s muzzle. Click and treat when your dog shows any interest in the object. Once the dog understands that interacting with the object is rewarding, slowly increase the criteria until the dog is nosing the object and, eventually, putting his mouth on it. Remember: never put the object into the dog’s mouth. The dog should grab the object willingly.
Teaching your dog to heel is not only easy and fun, but it helps encourage your dog to love walking beside you. The heel position is an essential skill for obedience competitions, heelwork to music (canine freestyle), and rally. In this video, KPA CTP Michelle Wieser and her dog Tipper demonstrate how to teach the heel position using hand targeting.
As important as it is to teach your dog basic behaviors such as “sit” and “stay,” it’s equally as important to teach a release cue to let the dog know when he can release from his current position. Not only a useful training tool, a solid release cue can save your dog’s life. Use a release cue before going over a threshold, like through a doorway, out of a crate, or out of a vehicle. A release cue is also extremely useful for dog sports, as it builds a solid start line as well as clarity and confidence for duration behaviors.
Spring is almost here and that means dog-sports season is right around the corner! Practicing key foundation behaviors now, indoors with low distraction, will boost your success when you are ready to take it outdoors.