Have you ever watched those little dogs on TV jump over their owners' arms, over tiny jumps, or over other dogs? Have you ever watched your own dog struggle to jump over obstacles that are in his way? What if he could learn how to conquer those obstacles and perhaps even jump as well as those dogs on TV?
Jumping over things requires not only muscles and physical ability, but also confidence for a small dog. Many of the obstacles that your small dog faces are as tall or taller than he is! If you believe that your small dog has the physical ability to do what you see other dogs doing but he lacks the confidence and skills, then he simply needs your help to overcome his fears and to show him how. Even if your small dog is not built to be the next agility champion, chances are that he can at least clear many of the things that stand in his way if he is shown how.
Being able to jump over obstacles is important for your small dog. Because your dog is not a three foot tall Great Dane, he is likely to encounter a lot of things in his way. If he has the confidence and ability to leap over those obstacles it will make life a lot easier for him and for you, since you will not have to pick him up as often!
Perhaps you would like to compete in something like agility with your dog. Agility can be a great way for the two of you to bond, to get your dog's excess energy out, to build his confidence, and to have a lot of fun! Jumping is a normal part of agility and you can prepare him for that by practicing jumping over normal obstacles at home.
While teaching your dog to jump, be sure to keep things fun. Because teaching your dog to jump is all about building his confidence, he will need you to remain positive and to help motivate him. If you start to get frustrated with your dog, take a break and come back to it later when you are feeling happier. You do not want to rush him if he is afraid. He will need time to warm up to the idea of going over things.
On the other hand, some dogs will have no problem jumping over things. With these dogs, you can go a lot faster, but still be sure to go slow enough and to keep things low enough for your dog to build up the proper muscle control so he does not injure himself while jumping. You can go much higher once you know he can "stick his landing". With these dogs, you may even be able to jump higher than your dog's own height. Feel free to work up to that level but just be cautious to protect him from injury.
To get started, you will need lots of small, soft treats. You will need a positive attitude and patience. You will need lots of different obstacles in varying heights. For the obstacles, choose items that are long and one inch, two inches, four inches, six inches, eight inches, and ten inches tall. If your dog is taller than ten inches, or if you wish you go beyond your dog's height, you will also need several more objects, each two inches taller than the last, until you have reached your desired final height. You can also buy, or build out of cardboard of PVC pipe, an agility jump with different levels of height.
If you are using 'the Running' method you will also need a six or eight-foot leash and collar or harness to attach it to. If you are using the 'Retrieval' method, you will need a ball and possibly objects to create two walls, one wall on either side of your jump. Several chairs lined up into two rows or tall cardboard or plastic boxes would work well for this.