Back to hoopers overview

Hoopers is becoming so popular you may well find someone who is running classes in your area.  If you don't belong to a dog club then you can try using Google to find a local club or trainer.  Some agility clubs may offer hoopers training now as well as agility.

If you want to do some training at home then it really is best to start with hoopers drills.  Here's a couple to be getting on with.

Building value for the hoops

To start with you just need one hoop. The dog has to learn the value of going through the hoop rather than going round it.  Jilly has done this drill in classes but Sasha hasn't done any Hoopers training so in the video below you can see Sasha starting her training using shaping.  When she goes through the hoop she gets a reward.  Eventually the dog will start to seek out the correct way of going through the hoop and you can see Sasha starting to do this after a few treats have been thrown her way.  You'll need a lot of treats for this stage so cut down on the dog's dinner.  I tried using a ball for this exercise with Jilly but she was so obsessed with the ball she didn't really concentrate on the exercise.  In the video you'll also see me take a step backwards as Sasha starts to understand what I want her to do.  If your dog is inclined to get between you and the hoop then start by standing very close to the hoop so that the dog can't do this.  It's worth spending time doing these drills as Hoopers needs a lot of distance handling.  If the dog doesn't seek out the hoops it will just go round them and you'll lose points in competition. 

Move on to barrels

Hoopers barrels in competition are usually the big round plastic barrels, however they take up a lot of room when you want to store them. If you put one in the average car there won't be room for the dog.  For the purposes of training a pop up leaf bag is a good substitute. 

Those of you with agility dogs will already have done lots of work on wing wraps and going round cones etc.  You will also have trained directionals.  To start with Hoopers barrels the dog needs to understand the value of going round the barrel instead of just wandering past.  If you want to use agility commands that's fine.  Some people use other commands.  As long as the dog understands that it has to go left or right round the barrel then it doesn't really matter. 

To start with the barrel you need to stand close to it so that the dog can't get between you and the barrel.  Look out over the barrel as if you're looking at something and the average dog will run round it to see what you're looking at.  Get the reward in quickly and do it again.  If your dog starts going round the barrel in the same direction each time then don't reward until it goes round the barrel in the other direction. 

In this video Sasha has just started learning to go round the barrel.  She does it a few times and then suddenly stops and paws the barrel to see if that will get the treat.  Once she gets it she's well away. 

More training notes and videos will be added soon including moving up to two and three hoops, more barrel work, curves and straight runs through mutliple hoops, adding tunnels and more.