It is important that a dog understands the difference between vaults and overs. A simple way to discriminate vaults vs overs is through disc placement.
In order to vault, a platform must be given to the dog and a target must be placed in a fashion that necessitates the usage of that platform to get the target. The vaulting obstacle is placed between the dog and the target and a disc is placed too high and too far away for a normal leap. The dog will use the vaulting platform to get the disc.
In order to perform an over, a target is placed in a fashion that makes it likely that a dog cannot touch the obstacle being leapt over. The target is between the dog and the obstacle, or above the obstacle at a height that ensures that the dog can not touch the obstacle on the way to a successful catch. The dog will make the catch and then avoid the obstacle.
These basic placement concepts are designed to be mutually exclusive. Dog-Obstacle-Target means that the dog must use the obstacle to catch a vault and with Dog-Target-Obstacle using the obstacle to make a successful catch is not possible. This mutual exclusivity provides clear communication to the dog. If the target is in front of, or directly above the obstacle, the dog knows it’s an over. If the obstacle is placed between the dog and the target, too high or too far away to jump from the ground, it’s probably going to be a vault.
Eliminate the Gray
That is great intelligence for the dog to have as they make their plan to intercept the disc. So generally speaking, and especially when teaching, try to eliminate gray areas and be sure the desired behavior is clearly communicated with the appropriate target placement. Make it as black and white as possible:
- This is a vault… Dog — Obstacle — Target
- This is an over… Dog — Target — Obstacle
- Clear as a bell!