Have you gone through all the training basics and are looking for a way to “up your game” with some new dog tricks? How does teaching your dog to jump through a hoop sound?
No matter how well trained your dog is, there’s no reason to end the learning process. Dogs love being constantly engaged and mentally stimulated. They want to learn new tricks just as much as you want to show off their new tricks.
Finding new activities to keep your dog active, both mentally and physically, is the perfect way to spend time together. Follow the steps below to get started today.
What You’ll Need
- Small treats
- Hula hoop
- Enclosed space where your dog can be off-leash
1. Introduce the Hoop
In any type of training, start out by letting getting your dog used to the new object. Your dog has probably never been around a hoop before — they might be scared of it.
Instead of bringing the hoop to them, let your dog approach it on their own. For a few days leading up to the official start of training, leave the hoop out. Keep it in a corner, leaning up against the wall or on the floor. Your dog will naturally approach the hoop out of curiosity.
By familiarizing them with it ahead of time, once you initiate training, your dog shouldn’t be scared or surprised by the hoop.
2. Get Comfortable
After your dog is familiar with the hoop, it’s time to get them comfortable moving in and around it.
Head outside with your dog, the treats and the hoop. Gently place the hoop on the ground and wait for your dog to approach and sniff it. Avoid luring them to it in any way.
As soon as your dog approaches the hoop on their own — even if it’s just for a quick sniff — hand them a treat and be generous with the praise. Repeat this several times until it’s clear they’re intentionally walking to the hoop in hopes of a reward.
After they’ve learned they’ll get a treat for approaching the hoop, start rewarding them only when they steps inside it. Remember, the hoop should still be flat on the ground at this point. Anytime they step even 1 paw inside it, give them a treat and praise.
Continue this progression until they’re stepping all 4 paws inside the hoop.
3. Gradually Lift
As soon as your dog is stepping completely into the flat hoop in hopes of getting a treat, it’s time to start lifting it up.
As with every training process, start slowly. Lift 1 side of the hoop a few inches off the ground using your foot or a rock. Repeat the previous treat process all over again, this time rewarding them when they step inside the slightly lifted hoop.
If you need to backtrack and start with rewards just for approaching the lifted hoop, that’s fine. Patience is key here.
As your dog gets comfortable with the lifted hoop, continue repeating this process until 1 side of the hoop is at a 45-degree angle to the ground.
4. Walk Through
The next step is teaching your dog to walk through the hoop. At this point, the hoop should still be touching the ground, but keep it vertical by holding it up with your hand or a prop.
Using treats and praise, it’s time to start luring your dog through the hoop. They might try to walk around the hoop at first, so make sure to only reward them for going through the hoop.
If they’ve gotten to this point in the process, it shouldn’t take them too long to get comfortable walking through the hoop. Once they are, you can confidently move on to actual jumping.
5. Jump Through
Lift the vertical hoop about 1 inch off the ground so your dog has to step over it, still at a walking pace. As they step over the hoop, introduce a keyword, like “jump,” for example. They won’t know what it means yet, but they will start correlating the word “jump” with stepping over the hoop.
Watch these papillons gracefully glide through the hoop:
6. Raise the Hoop
Continue this process while gradually lifting the hoop higher and higher. If your dog reaches a sticking point where they won’t proceed, backtrack 1 step. Lower the hoop a bit and keep going.
The final hoop height will depend on your dog’s size, but never lift it more than 1 foot or so off the ground to protect their joints, no matter their size.
After a few sessions of actual jumping through the hoop, you should be able to start eliminating the treats and just use praise.