Friday, January 7, 2011

One Jump Is All You Need

"One jump is all you need to learn every handling maneuver". 
So says Susan Garrett, and so says Steve Schwarz, the Agility Nerd.

So I figure, every new agility student, whether serious about agility or just looking to have some good exercise and fun with their dog, should buy or build 1 jump for their yard, den, or patio, or to carry in their trunk and assemble it at the park.  To facilitate that, I'm giving the directions for building your own jump.

Materials for a 4' wide jump:
2 10' PVC poles 1" gauge, cut as follows:
Pole #1, cut 2 4' lengths, and 2 1' lengths
Pole #2, cut 2 3' lengths, 2 1' lengths, and 2 2" lengths
Leftovers: 1.8'

4 PVC T's to match 1" gauge
6 end caps
PVC glue
(Optional) Colored masking tape to decorate the bars.

This gives you 1 jump with the bottom bar set at 4" off the ground.

You might also choose to make your jumps only 3.5' wide, in which case you can use 3/4" gauge PVC, but these jumps don't meet the regulation 4' and 5' wide jumps required in competition.  On the other hand, they are light weight, cheaper, a bit easier to fit in your trunk, and just as much fun for your dog. (I have these at home, as pictured above.)

NOTE:  You need either a skill saw, a hack saw, or a table saw to cut the PVC.  Beware, the plastic can shatter unless you cut slowly, and it helps to wrap the line to be cut with masking tape first. Protect your eyes with safety glasses.

Assembly: Glue the foot parts together. Glue the upright parts together. Glue the end caps on. Don't glue the feet to the uprights (for flat storage), and don't glue the crossbars to the uprights.

Jump Cups are used to hold the cross bars up.  They snap onto the uprights, and you vary their height along the uprights depending on the jump height of your dog (in 4 inch increments from 8", 12", 16", 20", 24").  Since I train 2 dogs and another comes to train at my house, and all are different heights, I have 6 jump cups on each of my jumps, two set at 8" for Maxie, 2 at 12" for Charlie, and 2 at 20" for Lucky.  We move the top bar up and down depending upon who is practicing.  If necessary, I could also slide the jump cups up and down, but that would be a pain in the butt.  When I get time I will make more jump cups for 16" and 22".

You need 2 jump cups to hold up each bar.

You can purchase 1" gauge jump cups (and other gauges) off of Ebay for a reasonable fee.  Go to   In their search bar, put dog agility jump cups.  You'll come up with a ton of choices - a much easier option than making your own!

Making your own Jump Cups:  Yes, it can be done if you have a table saw and know how to use it, and you get the right kind of T's that don't have deep inner casting marks.  1 T makes 2 jump cups. Cut the top of the T off a wee bit before the middle mark, leaving a C shape that can clamp on firmly to the upright poles.  Cut the decapitated T in half, perpendicular to the first cut, and voila, 2 jump cups.

What You Can Practice With One Jump:
  • Post Turns
  • Pull Throughs
  • Front Cross (take off and landing sides)
  • Rear Cross (take off and landing sides)
  • Blind Cross
  • Sends
  • Calls
  • Run Bys
  • Around The Clocks
  • Distances
  • Angles
  • Go Jumps, Out Jumps, Come Jumps
  • Send to Back Side
  • Lateral Lead Outs
These and other handling maneuvers are described on Steve Schwarz's blog. No excuse not to practice in limited space now, or when you can't go outside!

Upwards and onward!

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