The tire jump is probably the most common and most recognizable piece of agility equipment. As its names suggests, it is a jump that consists of a frame with a hoop, or “tire”, suspended inside it through which the dog is required to jump cleanly. Though it is called a tire jump, the hoop in the jump is not an actual tire and has a larger interior diameter than most tires, making it easier for even large dogs to clear it cleanly.
Every one of the organizations that govern agility competitions includes jumps in their courses. As a matter of fact, jumps tend to make up at least half of every agility course. For this reason, it is imperative that all kinds of jumps, including tire, bar, wing and panel, are a part of any agility training regimen but particularly if your ultimate goal is to perform in competition.
You can purchase jumps in various sizes, but current agility safety standards necessitate any tire jump to have an opening between 19-24”. This can accommodate most breeds and will help to minimize injury. The AKC and CPE use a 24” tire in competition, while the USDAA uses a 20” tire. The size of the opening you use will depend on your dog, although it is highly recommended that you get him used to the competition standard as early as possible.
Frames can be made from plastic piping, such as PVC, or from lightweight metal. This makes them easy to move or disassemble for transport. For the tires themselves, safety is key. As with any jump, since there is a possibility of your dog making contact with the jump it is important that it be made of a light material with some give so that it won’t cause injury.
JuhaSa / stock.adobe.com
JuhaSa / stock.adobe.com
At the competition level, flat hoops with magnetic attachments at the bottom are used. These allow for the hoop to come apart easily on impact and to reattach itself without the need for manual intervention.
When training your dog on jumps, it is usually easier to begin with the more standard bar jumps before moving up to a tire or "hoop jump." You’ll find that the act of jumping itself is usually not a challenge as most dogs love to jump, which is why they tend to jump up onto furniture when you don’t want them to! The key to competition jumping is getting the dog used to your commands and of course completing the jump quickly and cleanly.
Getting your dog used to jumping and following commands is the first step, then you can progress to concentrating on speed and accuracy. Once your dog gets the hang of a standard jump, you can move on to the tire, which presents its own unique challenge as it requires the dog to jump through an object rather than just over it. For training purposes it may be a good idea to start with a tire that has a larger size opening before moving down to the regulation competition size.
With both the standard jump and tire jump in his repertoire, your dog will be able to handle almost any competition course. Just remember that it is important for him to eventually take on the various jumps in combination in order to be prepared for the challenge of competition.
No matter the size or shape of your dog, jumping can be a great physical and mental exercise. So if you’re interested in agility training, make sure a tire or "agility ring" is part of your equipment!
United States Dog Agility Association, Inc. (USDAA) guide for tire jump.