There has been much attention given to problems in the hurdle, but little mention made of whether or not the dog knows not to touch. For many stable dogs, grazing, clipping, crashing and the like are perfectly acceptable ways of achieving their goal: get through, get the ball. Or dumbbell.
Letting their feet touch as they go over is not of concern, and most aren't even aware such a small detail took place.
We do have the tougher situations as well, I have one myself. Dogs who truly physically struggle to clear it. Dogs with early take off syndrome. Dogs that have bad memories in their dumbbell training and now struggle to think straight.
But for the vast majority, it comes down to never being taught not to touch during the low drive training phase.
Let me repeat. Never being taught while first in low drive.
You see, for a dog to actually understand touching is to be avoided, they have to actually touch. They have to touch while in a low enough emotion to connect the dots. Time after time, I see handlers making the mistake we did for many years: setting the dog up for success with a low jump then quickly moving to a ball and increasing the height gradually. Doing this, you run the risk of having only a few options to fix touching or crashing if your dog begins to do so.
Additionally, many of the options used can cause stutter stepping, unsureness and general stress bleed over into your dumbbells. Of course, some dogs take these remedies in stride and have no visible side effects, but we don't think it's worth the risk, especially if you haven't tried this way first. Even if after taking your dog through this course, you decide to eventually go with a different method, your dog will likely catch on in a fraction of the time since they are now aware of where their feet are as they pass over the jump.
What we go over in this course is almost a no risk for causing any problems. It’s easy, fun and has worked with a large number of dogs, adults included. Will it fix all touching problems? No, I’m sure it won’t. But it should be the first option when dealing with a dog who can physically jump, but isn't putting effort into completely clearing it.
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