The agility dog today is asked to do more and more complex jumping involving extension, collection, tight turns, running forward with confidence and then collecting to a wrap around a jump, or running behind a jump. Slow motion video shows the impact that such jumping puts on the dogs when they are asked to run fast and then collect to a tight turn. Many dogs do this, but how many can jump correctly using good mechanical skills, maintaining jumping confidence and perhaps most importantly not getting injured. Far too many agility dogs today are injured jumping due to poor preparation of the tasks we ask them to do.
Having come from the sport of three-day eventing with horses, I value the work of Susan Salo. Susan has created a jumping program for puppies and dogs based on methods used for many years by top horseman and woman more specifically Gene Lewis who had horses on Olympic teams from five different countries. Lewis taught horses the mechanics of jumping without being encumbered by a rider.
Susan teaches the dog to jump without handler interference building the dog’s confidence and understanding of how to jump correctly. Her puppy jump foundation teaches these young puppies to read and drive a place to a target and to begin to understand how to reach to distances that are constantly changing.
A very important part of all puppy work and advocated by Susan is that the work be short and FUN. Most puppy work is done with jump bumps or very low bars for a set point exercise until the dog is at least one year of age.
As part of Myst’s body awareness I introduced trotting through a ladder. The ladder is excellent for helping the puppy use their body effectively and become conscious of where they are placing each paw. Puppies should trot through the ladder with head down. Having a target with a treat is an excellent way to help them focus forward with their head down.
We moved from the ladder to low cavelettis. Then onto Susan Salo’s puppy jump foundation work as shown in this video beginning with ladder work at 5 months old and themprogressing through Susan’s program for puppies.
Myst is now 11 months old and we do puppy jump grids once or twice a week with jumps at 8 inches max. Occasionally we do a set point exercise from 8 – 12 inches.
We are also doing jump foundation work using a jump with no bars for wrapping (Silvia’s Trkman’s CIP&CAP), Susan Garrett’s one jump work and looking for the next jump.