Brito believed that boards on the ground were meant for climbing.  That’s a problem since a broad jump looks a lot like boards sitting on the ground, especially in the grass.

If the broad jump board was “on edge” then Brito was fine since it looked like a high jump, which he understands.  One broad jump board flat on the ground with a bar over it was also fine.  Two broad jump boards with a bar was too big an increase in criteria and he’d climb on the board.  I also tried one broad jump on edge with the other flat as normal, but Brito’s seemed to be convinced that the flat one was put there as a springboard, just for him.

Hannah Branigan shapes her broad jump.  Guess I’ll try that.

First I sat on the ground with one board on edge, between my legs.  I shaped Brito to jump back and forth.  This was quite easy since he already knows this exercise from bar jump training.

Next I changed the angle of the board between my legs so that it started dropping to horizontal rather than vertical.  If he touched the board, no cookie.  If he jumps, cookie!  If he tried to climb over it more than a few times in a row then I’d re-orient the board so that it would be more vertical again, making him less likely to fail repeatedly.  Within a day, he was offering to jump one board – good dog.  Here’s our second lesson on the first day:

Then I repeated this process standing up straight with the board between my feet.  That step went very fast.  I worked on this until I knew he would jump even when he was standing right next to the board and with no running start.  I wanted him to understand his job; jump the boards even when it is easier to walk over them.  Not because the boards are unpleasant but because that is my criteria.

Finally I added a second board. In Brito’s case, I started with the boards overlapping.  Then I put one on edge and one flat, and finally both boards flat.  I’m using a high jump board along with a broad jump board to make sure the message is very clear – jump even when it is easier to walk.

The only step left is to spread the boards out a few more inches so that he is jumping his final distance.

That is as far as I’ll go for now. These steps took about four days and now Brito has an excellent foundation for this exercise – indeed it is much better and faster than any other method that I have used, so I will use this again in the future even with larger dogs.

How you choose to finish off the exercise will vary by your dog’s foundation skills but the most challenging part is now done!