Got a high energy dog? Need help adopting out a Dalmatian or Pointer? Channel that spirit and liveliness into a fun, bonding game by teaching your dog to jump through a hula hoop! First, hold up the hula hoop with the bottom rim on the ground. Hold a piece of high-value treat through the hoop, and if your dog pokes his nose, face or body through, reward him with the treat. If he goes around the hula hoop, no treat is given. He will begin to see that moving towards or poking through the hula hoop gets him some yummy food! Encourage any interaction with the hoop by praising your pup.
Once he is putting even a little bit of his body through, lure him completely through the hoop. Practice this a few times, always making it a fun, positive experience for your dog, and begin to pair the activity with a command, such as “jump”. (Even though at this stage, the hoop is still resting on the ground, and your dog is just walking through it.) Keep practicing and luring your dog through the hoop, saying “jump” and then you’re ready for the next step: toss the treat through the hoop and ask your pooch to “jump”! Throw a party of praise for him when he does it right, and go over that drill many times. If he does not jump through the hoop, take a step back and practice luring him through again.
Once your dog jumps through on command, which takes time and practice, you will gradually be able to start moving the bottom rim of hoop up off the ground higher and higher, and even adding other hula hoops to teach him to jump through so he can jump several hula hoops at a time! Jumping through hoops is not only a great party trick, it’s also a terrific way to direct your dog’s energy into an agility game, while bonding throughout the activity. For very high energy dogs, letting them expel their vigor in an appropriate way helps curb bad habits from forming due to excess energy.