Oh man, what a can of worms I'm opening! 😂 This comes from a patron question:
Let’s talk about jump heights. My pup has 3 different jump heights in 3 different organizations. I have had some people say always practice at the highest. Others tell me to change in practice depending on what trial is coming up next. Yet others tell me I should drop my pup down to preferred so she always jumps lower. Someone even went as far as telling me to find a judge who will work with me to get a new lower measurement. My little girl doesn’t knock bars and doesn’t appear to struggle at all at the highest one. One trainer told me she has seen dogs actually start knocking bars when the dog jumped lower because it flatted out their jumping arc. Who knew jump heights could be so complicated. Would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you!
Well. It depends!
I take each individual dog into account when making decisions about their jump height and if they are capable of moving back and forth between jump heights.
Some dogs are more naturally talented jumpers and will always jump appropriately for the height of the bar.
Some dogs will learn to jump “flat” if they jump lower for too long.
Some dogs will have no issue going back and forth between different jump heights.
Some dogs will struggle with changing jump heights.
Some investigating and experimenting may be necessary to find the right balance for your team. There's not going to be a cookie cutter approach to this.
Personally, in training, my dogs are usually jumping lower than their competition height, unless I am preparing for competition. That mostly depends on where I'm at with that dog in our periodization of the year. This decreases some of the impact that jumping as on their bodies and also adds an extra speed element that I usually have at the trials. 🙂
About 3-4 weeks before the competition, I'll do some sequencing and coursework at their competition height, whatever that may be, just to make sure they are prepared for it.
There's no wrong answer here. If your dog is physically fit enough to jump, any of the appropriate heights that they measure into is likely going to work out.
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