Teaching your dog new tricks is a great way to strengthen your bond with them and sharpen their skills. Different tricks can also be beneficial for different dog sports, including Trick Dog and Agility. One impressive trick that’s surprisingly easy is teaching your dog to jump through a hoop. So how do you teach your dog to get comfortable with the hoop to the point where you can get them to jump through it?
Teach Your Dog to Jump Through a Hoop
First, get a hoop for your dog, such as a hula hoop, and place it on the floor. Put one of your dog’s favorite treats in the center of the hoop and encourage them to investigate. As soon as your dog shows interest, make sure to praise them. Continue to praise them as they step into the hoop, and repeat a few times until your dog is confidently stepping into the hoop when you ask them to.
Once your dog is comfortable standing inside the hoop, you’ll want to start easing them through it. Some dogs get nervous during training or when there is something around or behind them, so this part may take a bit of patience.
With the bottom of the hoop still on the ground, lift up one end of the hoop with one hand so that your dog is standing in it. With a dog treat in the other hand, have them to finish stepping through the hoop with their back legs. When they do, give them praise. Keep doing this until they not only step through with their back legs, but step through the hoop with their whole body.
Once they are walking through the hoop every time, you can start raising the hoop off of the floor. Start by lifting it just a few inches off of the ground, and praising them when they jump through it. Alternate between treats and praise, practicing multiple times until you feel that they’ve mastered this step.
Once your dog has mastered the low height, you can begin to raise it. Make sure that you’re taking into consideration your dog’s size when raising the hoop. You can look for hoops with adjustable heights as well if it is easier for you, or are prepping them to jump through hoops in an Agility environment.
Once they’ve successfully jumped through the hoop when it’s off the ground, you’ve taught them how to jump through a hoop. If they really seem to have a knack for it, you can also try raising the hoop to different heights for them to jump through if you want to challenge them.
Practice makes perfect. Even if your dog doesn’t feel comfortable going through the hoop, creating positive associations with it will help them tackle this trick. Set aside time every week to go over this trick to keep their skills sharp. As with any training cue or trick you teach your dog, it’s important to practice regularly.
If you don’t want to stop there, there are even more variations of this trick that you can teach your dog.
Teaching Your Dog to Jump Through Your Arms
Once you’ve got your dog confidently jumping through your hoop, you can also try getting them to jump through your arms, which is a Trick Dog Intermediate skill.
Teaching Your Dog to Jump Through a Tissue Hoop
When they are consistently jumping through the hoop at a low height, you can start raising the height of the hoop. Keep the height of the hoop in perspective to the size of your dog.
You also can teach them to jump through your arms by placing your arms around the hoop, repeat a few times with the hoop and later without the hoop — or teach them to jump through two hoops!
Remember to always keep training sessions short and end on a happy note.