While teaching your dog how to jump, you must proceed slowly and build his confidence. It is very important that he never finds out that there’s an alternative to the jump.
The easiest way to start your dog jumping is by placing a board in a doorway. Here the situation is set up so that if the dog wants to get from one room to another, he will have to go over the board. He cannot go around it or under it. He cannot find another entrance into that room in the first place – you will.
Begin by taking the jump with your dog. Take a long-running start, and, as you approach the board, lift slightly up and forward with the leash and tell him ‘Fido, Over!’ Jump with him and praise him lavishly. Most dogs love jumping, and it is indeed great exercise for any healthy dog, as long as the jump is not too high. If your dog is not dysplastic, arthritic, or pregnant, and if she has no back problems or problems with her legs, she should be able to jump at least 1 1/2 times her height at the shoulder. This means that the average large dog can jump around 3 feet or better. If your dog won’t jump the board with you, perhaps you’re starting with too high a jump. Since you need to build his confidence, try again, with encouragement, and with a lower board.
Next, put your dog on a Sit Stay in one room, facing the board, step over the board into the next room, holding the leash, tell him ‘Fido, Come, Over!’ Next, you can stand with Fido near the board and send him to the next room. At this point, he might be catching up very well what you want him to do. Tell him ‘Fido, Over!’ He should jump away and then back toward you.
Place your hoop in the doorway. He already knows how to jump and what the word ‘Over’ means. With you in one room and Fido in the other, draw his leash through the hoop, which is sitting on the ground in the doorway. If he seems spooked by it, pet him and praise him. Once he is walking through the hoop as if it is not even there, raise it a bit, still keeping it in the doorway. When Fido will easily and willingly go both ways with the hoop 1 foot off the ground, you may leave the doorway and work with the hoop held in your hand.
The principle is as follows: the dog may not avoid the hoop to get to you or elsewhere. Each practice session, give him a warm-up with the hoop quite low before you ask him to jump as high as he is able. Tell Fido to jump through the hoop. If he begins a journey around it, tell him ‘Over!’ as you move the hoop, so it is still in front of him. Continue to build his confidence with the hoop.