Earlytakeoffsyndrome Sheltiejumping

Update on Early Takeoffs in Dog Jumping

For those interested, we’ve been making some exciting progress toward understanding what causes dogs to take off for jumps inappropriately early. When I wrote the first article on “ETS” I stated that I suspected that a vision was a causative factor (please refer to my articles on this site for more information on ETS). At that time, that theory was hard to prove because affected dogs were being tested “cerf normal”. However a cerf does not test vision. Vision problems were likely present but not being diagnosed due to lack of appropriate testing. Veterinary ophthalmologists began using retinoscopy to test which did indicate refractive errors (near or farsightedness) in some affected dogs but not all. So, there still had to be other problems that were not being diagnosed. Just recently, we’ve had a human pediatric optometrist (experienced in testing vision with patients that cannot speak or read eye charts) begin evaluating dogs and, in addition to refraction errors, she’s been finding dogs with astigmatisms and depth perception issues using tests not apparently done in veterinary ophthalmology practice (vs research). More research is necessary to understand the significance but this is super progress and we are working with her to gradually gather more information. Stay tuned.

  1. avatar

    To test or not to test? That is the question. I have a 3 year old with suspected ETS, but only suspected because he has had no vision tests. He hesitates before jumping, too far back from the jump when he does take off, sometimes landing on the jump. No problem with the weaves. He can catch a Frisbee like a receiver catches a football, so is perception a problem? I wish I only knew what to do, where to go and what to test for…..

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    Linda Mecklenburg10-01-2013

    Most dogs that have early takeoffs on jumps can track a moving object just fine. (Although it is not quite the same, I need glasses to read but I can catch a ball…) If your dog has early takeoffs most likely his vision is affected. But, that doesn’t mean he can’t do well in agility. Every dog is different.

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    Carolyn O'Connor10-11-2013

    I would like to have my dog tested…5 year old english springer. I live in Sault Ste. Marie, ON. Where could I have the testing done?

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    Julie Francke10-15-2013

    Linda, I have a wonderful border collie who loves agility but has early takeoff issues. We have worked on jump grids (following many of the patterns in Susan Salo’s videos) and my instructor has helped as much as she can. She recommends a private lesson with you. If it would help you decide if you would like to work with us, I’d be happy to put a video from our last trial on YouTube.

    I haven’t had eye tests done, as it sounds like they are often inconclusive. I am hoping you can help as we both love the game. But more importantly I don’t want her to get hurt (she took out the triple jump last weekend). She tries her hardest an wants to please so much.

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    Kay Lister11-22-2013

    Hello Linda,

    I have a 7 yr. old JR Terrier (one on Jeannette Hutchisons pups) and we have been in agility for 5 years now. Just about a year and a half ago, she started what I would call studder stepping prior to jumps – not ALL, but most. One of her siblings does this as well and Ivette White suggested that it might be ETS. After reading up on what I have found on the net, I’m not sure as she doesn’t necessairly take off early as much as does a little two step before she jumps. Would this be the same thing? She also seems to jump bars better at an angle as apposed to straight on. We (Jeannette and I) have worked with Maddie by taking out the bars completely, then placing them on the ground, and then working back up to 12 inch jump height. It seemed to work for a while (the plus side is, her speed seemed to pick up), but again, we are back to off and on studder stepping before jumps.

    Is this, in your opinion ETS?

    Thanks so much for your response!

    Kay Lister

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    Jen Buhn09-15-2014

    Hi Linda,

    I saw you at the trial this past weekend, but didn’t have a chance to talk to you about my tri Sheltie who has ETS. Earlier this year I read your article about ETS that was in Clean Run some years ago and found that I am using the techniques you mention to help him be successful. He measures 14″, but I moved him to Preferred so he’s only jumping 8″ (he can do 16″ in the backyard). I don’t get too far ahead and use blind crosses as much as possible. I have to run through all doubles and triples or he’ll pull up and land on them. He has to get to the table first or I have to run way past it (Jen Crank recommended I run until he gets on which seems to work) or he’ll just stop and wait.. I wanted your advice on how to make the doubles and triples more successful (he can do them in the backyard just fine) and how else to manage the table. He’s only 4 1/2 and he loves to run and be with me and he tries so hard, so I want to continue agility but am trying to avoid the knocked bars (he landed on the double yesterday (it was in the middle of a string of jumps making a 180) but did a beautiful job on the rest of the course). Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. I will be at the Easton trial all three days in case you are there as well. Thanks so much.

  7. avatar

    Do you by any chance have copies of Developing Jumping Skills for Awesome Agility Dogs. Clean Run is out of stock and I want to get to work on his jumping skills before the next book comes out in the spring. 5-year old Chocolate Lab—seems to knock down 3 jumps every time in different places—-90# –27inches tall.

  8. avatar

    I would like to test my young border collie 16 months , how?
    Thank you for your reponse

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