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Scary teeter

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I have have been taking Agility classes with Skye for the past 8wks (well we started a year ago, but had to take a break for a while and just worked at home on foundation stuff and weaves). She is has been doing fantastic at everything and once she goes over an obstacle once seems to have no problem with them at all. She had no problem with any of the small sized obstacles and now goes over the full sized dogwalk and A-Frame with no problem at all.


My problem is that the teeter at our Agility class is Really really loud, every says it is probably the scariest noisiest teeter your dog will ever come across. This will be great once she gets over being terrified of it, but right now she completely shuts down when anyone goes over it and it bangs.


At home she goes over my boom board just fine. I have plans to build a full size teeter at home out of wood and pvc that isn't noisy so she realizes that teeters aren't always scary.


Right now during class we are having her go over it before anyone else goes and makes noise with it and gently guiding it down so it doesn't make any noise, she is doing okay with that and we are not pushing her at all, she is a very willing dog and will do anything I ask of her, but once the teeter bangs the first time she starts to shut down. I am clicking and treating her with her favorite treat (hotdogs) whenever anyone is using the teeter.


Any other suggestions to making the scary teeter less scary for her. It is not the movement that scares her, just the noise.

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Would the folks who teach the class be willing to put down a mat or something that would mute the sound a bit so that she isn't frightened and has some time to adjust to it? Making it quiet and then changing the strike pad to gradually increase the sound over a few weeks might be helpful.


Best wishes!

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I wish that would work, it is the teeter itself that is so loud... We work on Thick rubber mats so I really doubt that towels would make that much of a difference. We also always have Skye go before anyone else and don't let it bang when she goes. The entire thing is made out of square aluminum tubing even the plank... so the whole thing rattles when someone goes on it.


I am really just wondering if there is anything more I can do to desensitize her to the noise.

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Welcome to my world.


I'll be honest with you - there may be no easy fix for this one. Some dogs can be desensitized to the teeter bang and some dogs cannot. I have a lot of experience with DS/CC, but noise fears are very difficult to desensitize.


Dean is exactly like your dog. He is actually doing teeters now on his own - like you I got one at home so he could learn the obstacle. He adores the teeter at home and when he is on it at class. As long as he makes the noise, he is just fine with it. Whenever another dog slams it, he shuts down completely.


I tried feeding him treats when the noise is coming, after the noise has happened, etc. This particular fear response is too strong in him for those things to work. It's very difficult to set up situations to desensitize where he will be under threshold.


My solution is not a perfect one. I have a music CD for him and I have taught him that being in the car with the music on is a "safe place". When it is not his turn on the teeter, he goes into the car with the music. This works at outdoor Agility trials and classes. For indoor trials and classes, I can crate him in the car with or without the music when it's not his turn.


One good thing - he has actually learned to be OK with hearing the teeter bang outdoors where it is not as extreme. Indoors, he may always have to be out of the building when it's not his turn and the teeter will hit.


He can watch another dog play on a buja board while I click/treat when the board clatters on the ground. He may someday work up to being able to watch a dog do the teeter and make it slam, but this will be a very long process - maybe years.


In the meantime, there are outdoor trials and there's NADAC. At the moment they have no teeter in NADAC.


I know that wasn't very helpful. I hope the situation turns out much better for you and your dog can learn to deal with the teeter noise!

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We also did the bang it training with our dogs, it worked with one, not with the other. Renoir is super noise sensitive and treating while other dogs were on the teeter was getting us no where. So I started playing tug with him. As a dog was approaching the teeter I would get him into the tug game and we would play until the dog was off of it and the teeter had fallen back into it's original position. At first he would pause the game, but hold the tug in his mouth while looking sideways at the teeter. So I would just tug a bit harder and then he would get right back into the game. While he still has issues with going over the teeter on his own, the noise of other dogs no longer bothers him. Best of luck.

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So I started playing tug with him. As a dog was approaching the teeter I would get him into the tug game and we would play until the dog was off of it and the teeter had fallen back into it's original position. At first he would pause the game, but hold the tug in his mouth while looking sideways at the teeter. So I would just tug a bit harder and then he would get right back into the game. While he still has issues with going over the teeter on his own, the noise of other dogs no longer bothers him. Best of luck.


You are so lucky! In that senario, Dean would not even look at the tug, nor play in any way, once the bang had happened. I've gotten him to the point where he will take treats, but he is way too far over threshold to do even much of that with.

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We started with the bang it also...she will bang it (but gently lol) Skye is also the type who needs to see the entire picture...I feel like if she knows the point of all this is to go over the teeter and the noise is just part of what happens she will get over it. Otherwise banging the teeter for noise sake is more like torturing her.


She will take treats now during others using the teeter (she would cower and shake in the beginning, and try to find a tunnel to hide in). So I do actually think it is working, and I also trying to get her to do some sit downs shake, things like that during the teeter to distract her. I wish she would tug during it, but she is not very toy motivated and the tug has to be introduced before treats or she will completely ignore it. I may bring it out next time to see what she does though.


I really do think she will eventually be okay with it. She seems to be less sensitive to it than she was in the beginning. I just wasn't sure if there were any other tricks I could try with desensitizing her. I will try tugging and see if that will get her mind off the "scary" factor and it can just become background noise.


Our trainer thinks she will get over it because she said Skye wants to please me so much, and if we work on desensitizing she should be fine.


We do have some NADAC events around here and most likely will start trialing NADAC first.

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I had a BIG issue with Rush at the beginning of the month. I took her to a friends house in DE and we went to her local training building to practice and the teeter really got to her. She did a flyoff first and then she slowly wouldnt go on it unless I was right there supporting her, and then not at all. She freaked every time the teeter clanked down and then back into place.


I saw the bang it game on youtube, and since I just have a wooden plank that I manage to attach to two chairs until I can get the money to buy a teeter a friend suggested I use a cookie sheet under my wooden plank to duplicate the noise. I decided to clicker train Rush to "push it". Instead, since we just got like 5 inches of snow and I cant really go outside. I took the cookie sheet and whenever she pawed it clicked etc. Then I raised it in the air a little bit, so she would go to make the movement, and right as she was touching the pan, I would drop it, so it would make a bang noise, and then I would click/treat. I did that for awhile. Obviously I had to build it up to that and we are only a few inches off the ground now. But Rush was REALLY afraid of the pan at first, and now when I play the game with my older mix all you can hear besides the pan is Rush whining in the other room. I havent gotten the chance to try it out, but its REALLY loud. Louder then the teeter that was in the training building we were at. I dont know what it is with tile and metal pans, but it makes a LOT of noise.


Good luck! I hope you will update us on her progress :rolleyes:



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I am not an agility expert. I don't even compete. I will explain how we played the bang it game though.


I used treats some but I also acted like a happy idiot more often than not. We were able to play bang it just before class started so I could throw the treat bag, run around and play tug. I play flyball so I am used to acting like an idiot in public.


Tempe was taught to tug from the day I got her. I played a lot of tug games - start tugging, drop it and run away being silly when she catches me with the tug we continued the tug game. Then we started the drop, runaway, continue tugging. I would clap and be real exciting to her because that is what she likes.


I was able to do this with her with the bang it exercise. I have a treat bag that you can play tug with which she loves. So when she banged it, I got excited, I threw the treat pouch a couple feet, she chased it, I ran away a little bit being silly and she would come running to me. I would then play tug and just be really happy. Some dogs can't handle that kind of happiness but luckily she does and enjoys it. Tempe actually did better once I started this game instead of treats.


Within a very short time, she was offering the bang it on her own. I was able to take this directly into the class. She was not happy with teeter but she would do it without much hesitation. Yes the instructor let be an idiot in class the first time or 2 with the full teeter. The other students understood what I was doing and were ok with it too. It was controlled but I was playing the happy idiot.


Ask if there is a way you can use the teeter before class to play really silly/happy go lucky reward games if your dog can handle it.


I always know if Tempe is too stressed out by her refusing to tug. When she gets to that point I would back off. I learned her threshold and backed off sooner before she started shutting down. I never made her keep repeating if she messed up with anything in agility. If she blew past a piece of equipment we kept going. Tempe has some temperament issues so I had to stay happy and not harp on mistakes. For her to even do the equipment at all with strangers that close to her (and other strangers moving around) I was amazed. She actually likes agility and one day I will get her signed up for some more classes. I don't think I will compete with her but some friends offered to do it for me. If she ever gets good enough I may let them.

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I'm actually making one last ditch effort and I am going to try something extremely radical with Dean. This technique, although reinforcement based, is strange, even for me!! I am not sure it will work, but I have hope.


If it works, I'll tell you about it. It worked today with a hole puncher. Dean usually gets spooked and leaves the room when I punch papers with a hole puncher, but it's not a noise that sends him into "IT'S GONNA KILL ME!" mode. Today as I used this technique, by the end of the session he was listening to me punch holes in sheets of paper with great interest and not one bit of worry. It's no teeter noise, but it's a start.


If it works with higher level noises that scare him, I'll be very surprised, but pleased. If it works with the teeter, I will 'fess up and say what we did.

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Small update:


Good and bad news,


The good news is that I built a teeter at home out of a board and pvc. Right now I have it at 12" high but it can be adjusted to go to 24". She goes over it like no big deal, not scared of it at all.


Bad news, In class on Thursday, we were having class in one section of the building and people were practicing in another, it is a large warehouse type building and there are walls separating the two areas, but no ceilings so you can hear everything going on. Well the sound of the teeter being used sent Skye into the "Scary" place, she wanted out, she would still do everything I asked her to but in between obstacles she would go to the door and she was looking for a place to hide the entire class and shaking and panting.....


I am glad she is not scared of ALL teeters just "that" teeter, and of course if we ever run across a teeter that is made of aluminum in a trial she is going to have the same problem.


She won't refuse to do it, in fact it seems to bother her LESS if she is the one make the noise, it is worse if others are going over it making the noise.


Right now I am trying to ignore her behavior and not let her hide, I am worried about reinforcing the nervous behavior.....I am just pretending like the noise is no big deal....


The only other thing I can think of is recording someone going over and over the teeter with my video camera and replaying it at home at a lower volume and slowly increasing it until she is immune to it.

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