How Good Is Your “Jump” Verbal? – Bad Dog Agility Academy

How Good Is Your “Jump” Verbal?

Apr 2020

For this single jump skill we are going to test how good you verbal is that cues commitment to the front side of the jump. I use the word “jump” but you would test this with whatever your verbal is (“over”, “hup”, or specific verbals for wrapping left tanned right).

Toy Distractions

Food Distractions

For my dogs, “jump” means to take the front side of the jump with whatever jumping effort matches my handling. It could be extension, relative collection, or true collection however I would likely use my wrapping verbals in a situation where I wanted collection.

Once you feel your dog has a pretty good understanding of “jump”, it is time to test that with distractions. Hopefully you have built enough understanding in your verbal that your dog can find the jump at various angles. Now we will test their understanding by presenting either a toy or treat and making sure they will respond to the correct verbal.

Place your dog in a stay and lead out between them and the jump. I would start with your reinforcement held up high as to not be too enticing. Holding perfectly still, cue the jump. The dog should release forward to the jump and then you can mark and release to the toy or treat. You are going to alternate releasing to the jump with releasing directly to the toy or treat. Make sure not establish a pattern that your dog will pick up on.

As your dog builds understanding of the verbals despite the reinforcement distraction, begin to lower the treat or toy to become more appealing. Ultimately, the goal is to be able to toss the toy or treat on the ground between you and the dog and ask for the desired cue.

Taking it the the next level: In addition to your dog learning to respond to the verbal despite your reinforcement distraction, make sure that you can present body/location disractions. Run in place, do jumping jacks, sit on the ground; make sure your dog will take the jumping on a single cue. You can even present a reinforcement distance AND challenge them with a distracting body presentation. Continue to alternate asking for the jump vs reinforcement release vs another behavior (like “sit” or “down”). Also, make sure you are working with various jump angles and not already presenting the same perpendicular approach.

If your dog can learn to respond to your “jump” verbal with these challenges, I am certain you will see an improvement in their verbal “jump” understanding on course!

Toy Distractions

Food Distractions

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  • Whitney says:

    Jenn, where do you get the super long tugs?

    • Jennifer Crank says:

      Most of my toys are from Floramicato. They are a European company but you can find them on Facebook. I know that Florida Dog Sports sells them here in the US (and has a website) but I believe they are currently out of stock of the long handled ones. Also, you can just take a fleece leash and tie it around a toy with a handle to make it longer.

  • Collene says:

    One more question: suppose you have a dog too young to do jump bars yet? Can you still practice something like this without them jumping? Or does that make it confusing later when they really DO need to jump?

    • Jennifer Crank says:

      I think you would be fine to start this before jumping but verbal testing is something that you would want to do in all aspects of your young dog training. I do this same concept in front of a tunnel. You could do it in front of a crate or when just working your toy markers. I don’t think this is necessarily about learning “jump”, but rather learning to listen to what is cued and not just assume.

      If you work with a jump you could lay a pool noodle, or something similar, on the ground in place of the jump. Or if you don’t want an object at all, then just use the wing/leaf barrel. In that case, I wouldn’t use “jump” but you could do this with whatever wrapping verbals you may have.

  • Collene says:

    These type of posts are so awesome – they definitely make me find holes in my training.

    So questions:
    1) I don’t think you had an example of what to do for a failure. For example, what if P!nk (that’s right isn’t it?) had gone after the toy when you cued the jump?

    2) You do your separate cues for the front side of the jump (wrap, loop, and jump) – would it be too much to also do BACK cues? Maybe a separate session would be better for that?

    3) what do you think was the deal with Swift in the one where he just stays for a split second (about 1 min in)? If your dog just continues to sit in that situation, what’s the best thing to do?

    4) I was really intrigued by your cues. I have a clicker/”yes” that always must be rewarded (usually with food since dog is non-toy oriented). I have a more generalize “yay” that means you are correct, but might not get a reward. But you gave the jump cue and then before reward, one of your other cues (take, find, get it). It was almost like these second cues were functioning as a clicker/”yes”? Or is it more like a mini-sequence: 2 cues then reward with toy/food and your “yay”?

    Then I was trying to think about applying this for longer drills/sequences. Do you always end with the take/find/get it cue? I realized I probably just throw my lotus ball toy with food to end these situations and am trying to decide if that is too sloppy.

    • Jennifer Crank says:

      1) I am pretty relaxed about failures. Ignored behaviors extinguish themselves, right?! So if I were to say “jump” and the dog goes for the toy, I would not have a party or tug session and get the toy back from the dog and do it again with less difficulty. I would suggest making sure your makers are pretty solid before getting to the stage where the toy or food is out of your hand.

      2) Yes!! That is perfect. You will see that video in a few months 😉 I will test “jump” from “push” in a single session but I don’t add the toy vs jump vs push all together in a session. I’m not trying to trick the dog or get them to fail and I find many dogs will just start guessing when too many verbals are “proofed” in this manner.

      3) Swift is 7 years old and until about 18 months ago he was trained to wait for the “break” verbal to be released from his stay. Here you are seeing him struggle with the retrain when the distraction is added. If he is just in front of an obstacle, no problem. But when I add challenges he thinks I am tricking him and he overthinks (for sake of a better word). This is a sign I have made it too hard. If this became a consistent problem I would decrease the difficulty and/or repeat the verbal in a excited tone, and possibly add motion, until the dog was understanding what I wanted.

      4) https://baddogagility.com/episode-240-markers-in-your-agility-training/. I have specific makers to let my dog know they have achieved the correct behavior which also releases them to the reinforcement. “Take” marks behavior and cues food from hand. “Get it” marks and is for toys. “Find” marks and is for treats on the ground. My clicker is for stationary behaviors. Here is an example video: https://baddogagilityacademy.com/markers-demo/?highlight=markers. Yes, at the end of a sequence my dog must be given a marker to have permission to get the toy. Lots of dogs do not have problems with sloppy markers. But many do. For example, if “yay” often means your are getting your toy and then in a trial situation your dog nails the weaves and you say “yay” but don’t deliver the toy, many dogs get frustrated/stressed/confused which can lead to all kinds of problems.

      I hope that all helps!


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