Teaching your dog a trick like jumping is a great way to mentally stimulate them while giving them exercise. But how do you teach and train a dog to jump?
To teach your dog to jump, you need to motivate them with a food or toy, teach them a command for jumping, and reward them when they do it right. Teaching your dog how to jump and training them to do it on command will take time and patience, and the process may look different for individual dogs.
In this article, we will go over how you can teach and train your dog to jump on command. The process will start with simply teaching your dog to jump. We will then learn how to associate that action with a command. Finally, you will practice this over and over until your dog jumps on your command.
As a long-time dog owner and lover, I am going to walk you through the process of teaching and training your dog to jump on command. Learning how to do this with your dog will not only bring the two of you closer together, but it will cognitively stimulate your dog and give them great exercise. Let’s get started!
How Do You Teach a Dog to Jump?
Before getting started, you must check with your vet before starting to train your dog to jump, especially if your dog is not currently very active. Jumping can be hard on the bones and joints of older dogs and puppies.
Let your vet know that you are planning to do this, and see if they suggest a specific method or another trick to start with based on your dog’s age and current activity level.
Once you have determined that this training is safe for your dog, the first step in training them to jump on command is to teach them how to jump in the first place. Unless your dog figured out how to jump on their own, they might not even realize that they can jump.
Start With a Simple Jump
There are several types of jumps that dogs can do. In agility competitions, your dog may need to jump over an obstacle in the middle of a course. If you are just teaching your dog to jump for fun, they might just jump in place. You will need to decide why you are teaching your dog to jump, as well as what type of jump you want to teach them.
In this article, we will first go over how to teach your dog to jump in place, then we will talk about jumping over barriers. If you want to train your dog for competition purposes, you can teach them more advanced techniques once they have mastered jumping in place.
Motivate Your Dog
One of the most important parts of teaching your dog any kind of trick is knowing what motivates them. Most dogs are highly motivated by food and treats. You can simply use some of their kibble or one of their favorite treats during training.
There are dogs, though, that are not motivated by food. This is where training can get tricky. Since food is one of the easiest motivators to work with, you want to completely rule it out before moving on to other methods.
Try using their all-time favorite treat, or you can even try a new, high-value treat. Your dog may not be interested in generic cookie-type treats, but they may love peanut butter or meat. Try a few different treats to see if anything motivates your dog.
If food doesn’t work, you can always try a stuffed animal or another toy that they love. This type of motivator will work fine for teaching your dog to jump but is not ideal for all possible tricks that you might want to teach your dog.
Use the Preferred Motivator to Make Them Jump
This step in the process is when we entice the dog to jump using food or another preferred motivator. Since we are simply trying to get a dog to jump in place, this is the easiest step in the process. If you decide that you want to teach your dog to jump over obstacles in an agility course or you want them to jump through your arms, you will need to come back to this step.
In this step, you will use the motivator to get the dog to jump. You can do this by simply showing them that you have some food or their favorite toy, and lifting it slightly out of their reach above them. As long as you have a great motivator, the dog should jump up to try and get the food or toy.
Teach Them a Command
Once your dog has jumped in the air, you need to start pairing the action with a reward and a command. This will show your dog that the action they are doing is good and wanted by you. Eventually, they will get to the point that they no longer need a motivator to jump, and they will simply follow your command.
A good command to use for jumping straight in the air is “up”. You can consider telling them to “jump”, though this might be a good command to use if you want to continue with agility jumping. As your dog is jumping in the air to get their treat or toy, say your command word. Over time and with lots of practice, they will start to associate this action with the command and will eventually not need the motivator.
Reward Your Dog and Practice
Once your dog jumps, you should reward them for doing what you asked. You can reward your dog by either giving them the treat you were motivating them with, letting them play with the toy you were holding, and giving lots of praise and attention.
The entire process will look like this:
- You hold the dog’s motivator over its head
- When the dog jumps, say your chosen command word
- Give your dog a treat or toy as well as lots of praise
Practice these steps often and in different environments. Once you think your dog is starting to understand the trick, you can stop using a motivator as often and see if they do the trick with just the command. This will take a lot of practice. The amount of time needed in training is different for each dog. Eventually, though, you will get to the point where you just need the command word.
How To Teach Your Dog to Do an Agility Jump
Once your dog has mastered jumping in place, you might want to consider teaching them an agility jump. An agility jump is simply when the dog jumps over something. These types of jumps are common in agility courses and competitions, but your dog doesn’t need to compete to benefit from learning this trick.
If you have access to an agility course, then that would be a great place to start teaching your dog this trick. If not, you can use items around your house. For example, you can use a broom handle balanced on top of books as the item your dog has to jump over.
Start With a Low Jumping Height
When you begin to teach your dog an agility jump, you want to start them at a low jumping height so that they don’t get injured. Set your agility hurdle at the lowest setting. If you are at home, place your obstacle as low to the ground as possible. You want your dog to get used to the motions of jumping over obstacles before you increase the height and difficulty.
Encourage Your Dog to Jump Over the Obstacle
Next, you want to use your dog’s preferred motivator, whether that is food or a toy, to make them jump over the obstacle. Since the obstacle is so low to start, your dog may simply walk over it. That is perfectly fine for now, as we just want them to follow the motions.
You can complete this step by waiting with the motivator on the other side of the obstacle from your dog. If your dog doesn’t follow the “wait” or “stay” command very well, you might want another person to help you hold your dog back until you are on the other side of the obstacle.
When your dog jumps over the obstacle to get the treat or toy from you, be sure to pair the action with a command like “jump” or “over” and give your dog praise. Make sure that you practice this action plenty of times and with you standing in different locations on the other side of the obstacle. You want your dog to get used to jumping to you safely before you raise the height.
Practice and Slowly Make Adjustments
Once your dog is confident with jumping over the lowest height of the barrier, you can slowly start to raise it. You don’t want to raise it too much at once, and you want to spend a lot of time at each height before raising it again to prevent injury. If you are at an agility course, you can simply raise the bar on the barrier. If you are at home, you can add some height using books or other materials.
Practice at each height just as you did at the lowest height. Have your dog wait on one side of the obstacle while you wait on the other side with a treat or toy. When they jump over the obstacle, give them lots of praise as well as the toy or treat you were tempting them with. Be sure to stand in different locations and poses on the other side of the barrier to get them used to different jumping situations.
Over time, your dog will gain the strength to jump over higher and higher obstacles. Just like with jumping in place, they will eventually not need the motivator and will perform the trick on command.
Remember that when you teach your dog to jump over objects, you need to also practice obedience and recall. Dogs with good recall will come back to their owner when called. This will be essential if your dog jumps over a fence in your backyard or the park.
Benefits of Teaching Your Dog Tricks
There are so many benefits to teaching your dog tricks and commands. First and foremost, teaching your dog requires a lot of time and communication between you and your dog. This time alone is enough to form a strong bond between human and dog. The more training you do, the more your dog will trust you and the happier the both of you will be.
Teaching tricks and commands is also an excellent way to mentally stimulate your dog. Certain dog breeds require mental stimulation as much as they need physical exercise. Boredom from lack of mental stimulation can contribute to bad behaviors like chewing and destroying things in your home.
Lastly, teaching your dog tricks is a great exercise for both the dog and human. Even if the trick doesn’t involve a lot of running, tricks usually require balance, flexibility, and strength. By spending a little bit of time every day or every week working on tricks with your dog, you can tire them out and give them a great exercise routine.
How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Jumping?
While teaching your dog to jump on command can be a fun way to bond with your pet, it can sometimes be a nuisance if your dog learns that they can jump when not asked to do so. Many people realize that once their dog knows how to jump, they can use that skill to get into trouble.
Some dogs get so excited when you come home that they jump up to greet you. Other dogs may jump to reach food on a table or the kitchen counter. These behaviors are generally not appreciated by pet owners and can make the dog seem disobedient.
Your dog should know that they should only jump on your command, and not any other time. We have put together a few tips for how to teach your dog not to jump unless they are asked to.
Teach Basic Obedience
The first thing that you can do is teach your dog some basic commands like “sit” or “stay”. These will indicate to your dog that they should be calm and not jump up. We will have some more information on these commands in the next section. If your dog doesn’t obey these commands all the time, you will need to do some additional training to break this behavior.
Ignore Bad Behaviors
If your dog jumps on you when you come home, they are just excited to see you. Start by changing your behavior. Our first instinct when we come home is that we get excited to see our dogs, which only adds to the excitement and energy happening. Instead, try to ignore your dog when you come home. This will be hard, but if your dog stops expecting attention from you right when you get home, then they will be calmer during these times.
If your dog jumps on the counter to smell or steal food, move the food so that it is no longer within reach and walk away from the temptation. Don’t try to distract your dog, as they may see any attention or praise as encouragement that they did the right thing.
Like with any command, you will need to repeat these actions many times until your dog learns the correct behavior. It may take more time to break habits since you don’t want to use any motivators like food or toys. The best way to stop behaviors is to show disinterest, and it may take your dog a while to realize what is expected of them.
What Else Should I Teach My Dog?
Now that you and your dog have mastered jumping, you might want to teach your dog other tricks. Like we said, dog training is a great way to mentally stimulate your dog, give your dog some exercise, and strengthen your bond together.
There are a few commands that your dog should know that will help both of you in further training. Some of these would even be helpful when training them to jump or not to jump. These commands all teach your dog obedience and when followed, allow your dog to calm down and listen to you.
These important commands include:
These commands teach basic obedience and are the basis of all other training that you might do with your dog. If your dog is connected with you well enough to understand and follow these commands, then it will be much easier to teach other behaviors like polite leash walking. It will also be easier to teach them more complex tricks like rolling over.
No matter what you teach your dog, training and time spent together are great for you and your dog’s mental and physical health. Happy training!
About THE AUTHOR
I have had dogs my whole life and have always trained my own dogs with patience and positive reinforcement. My dogs are my life. My family always had dogs growing up. I've trained dogs for clients while working at a local dog daycare. I hope that my research and experiences are helpful to you as I share them here.Read More About Russell Wright