My Waterloo in agility obstacles is the teeter. It took me a good year to finally convince jumpy Jasmine that it was not a monster in disguise. As Fannie was growing up, I was relieved to see that she was such a little trooper, and I was convinced that doing the teeter for her would be like a walk in the park, minus the squirrels of course. ; ) To my great surprise, she was not that enthralled with the obstacle and was even a bit scared of it.
Unless your dog has absolutely no fear of the teeter (like a certain little Beckett the sheltie and a future search and rescue malinois named Hazard), most of them need to get used to the actual tipping motion as well as the “bang” sound when the plank falls back on the other side. There are many ways to train that, such as using the wobble board and the bang game. I had done some work on the board, and Fannie seemed fine with it. She was a champion at making the teeter go “bang”, so I thought it would be smooth sailing for us…. Fate decided differently and we ran into a problem.
Jasmine’s road to teeter love…
- Put dog at the very end of the teeter.
- Raise the teeter 1 cm, and let it fall.
- The dog must then go in the 2o2o position. Reward.
- Release dog. Reward.
- Repeat by raising the teeter a bit higher every time, until almost at full height.
Result: Dog loves teeter.
Fannie’s road to teeter love…
- Put the dog at the very end of the teeter.
- You raise the teeter 1 cm, and let it fall.
- Then Fannie gives you the “What the **** are you trying to do???? I mean really! Hmpf! The nerve!” look.
Result: Dog suspiciously glares at teeter
The agility gods interfered and Fannie would simply hop off the teeter the instant she realized she wasn’t on the dogwalk.. After an agility lesson, an instructor stayed an extra 5 minutes (to my great surprise) and showed me what I was doing wrong. He suggested to let Fannie run up the teeter (as she was easily doing), then at that specific moment when the teeter starts to tip, make her stay and reward, reward, reward. In Fannie’s case, she only needed me to touch her collar, and she continued to walk, and down the plank she went with a BANG!
Yes, all she needed was the reassuring touch of my hand to accompany her. After that day, she hasn’t missed one teeter. Man oh man that dog learns fast.
Here is her latest accomplishment on video…. (writes the proud handler).