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YAY! The Evil Teeter has been conquered!


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Rewind to November. Meg and I were taking our second agility class (Agility I) and we started work on the teeter. Long story short, Meg HATED it. She associated the trainer with the teeter and decided she didn't trust her anymore and wanted nothing to do with her. She started getting nervous about the dog walk (looks similar to a teeter from her angle) and just wasn't enjoying class as much anymore all because of that darn teeter (which she refused to even walk near).

 

It wasn't really important to me that she do the teeter (if we compete, it will be with NADAC), but it was important that she not be afraid of people, objects or noises. We've been working on not being afraid and building confidence for the past year and I didn't really want this to be a road block for her.

 

We took December and January off and then re-took the Agility I class again with the same instructor. We spent a lot of time just getting Meg to like the rest of the equipment again and getting her to where she'd at least take treats from the trainer. Also before and after class, I set up a small buffet of treats on the teeter for Meg to eat off of so she'd at least feel good about being next to it. In the last two weeks of class, we tried a couple new tactics with the teeter with our trainer watching and instructing from a distance and Meg did better. She was still nervous about it, but she would get on it for me. At home we started working with a makeshift small teeter, just a long board on a 6" block and that helped too.

 

We're now three weeks into the Agility II class and Meg has been doing great and most importantly having fun again. Today though was the greatest. Not only did Meg do the teeter at nearly full height without anyone slowing it down...she was actually pulling ahead of me and was excited about going on the teeter! And she paid no attention to the bang as it reset.

 

Meg still doesn't fully trust/like our trainer, but they've come to a workable compromise. Meg will walk up to the trainer for treats, but will not let her pet or reach for her (nothing aggressive, she just shies away). That's good enough for me. I don't expect her to like everyone she meets and she does fine with other people.

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congrats! the teeter is indeed evil! we went thru cycles on the teeter: great, fearful, great, scary teeter. finally trained hard on it with chopped up bacon. now, surprise, surprise, it's everyones favorite! continued success. run fast, run clean, run fun.

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Congratulations!!! My pup is terrified of the teeter and refuses to work on any other equipment if anyone is in the vicinity of the teeter (it could make noise!!). This story gives me a light at the end of the tunnel, thanks for sharing!

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Cerb loves every apparatus but the teeter. He'll run across a four foot high dog walk without hesitation but get him on a teeter and he turns to a whiney, quivering puppy.

 

I think the root of the problem is he doesn't like weird stuff under his feet. He actively avoids puddles, grates, manhole covers, open grate bridges (the ones that drain)...and when I mean actively I mean ACTIVELY...like laying down until he's carried across. Year before this we went to the "Dog Expo" at the Cardinals' stadium near Phoenix, AZ. There were aluminum covers over expansion joints in the huge concrete floor and, you guessed it, with hundreds of people looking on, he laid down and refused to step over the 1" tall by 8" wide obstacle. There I was carrying my beautiful, intelligent, well behaved, athletic boy over an obstacle that wouldn't stop a rolling pencil. Who knows where this came from.

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Congrats on successfully conquering that scary, moving, loud teeter!

 

A couple of suggestions to get your pups used to a moving object underfoot:

These exercises do not involve the teeter, but are good for initial introduction to an unstable surface - which will hopefully make conquering the teeter easier.

 

Get a piece of plywood about 30"X30" or 36"X36" (size not too important - not too big, not too small).

Get a partially deflated kickball, soccerball or volleyball.

 

Put board on ball. To begin with, have ball almost fully deflated to reduce the angle of movement.

 

Using clicker training techniques, get dog to step on board from low side (no movement) and high side (movement). Get them to LIKE the board (lots of treats). Eventually get them to stay on the board while following you circling the board (unstable surface). Once comfortable with a deflated ball, gradually inflate to increase angle and movement. (Note, the ball will obviously never be fully inflated since the board can not stay on a totally round ball.)

 

If the deflated ball is still too much movement, get your dog used to standing and moving around on the flat board. Then add something under the board that will cause the board to only move about one inch, then continue increasing.

 

Expert move: The person who demonstrated this routine would put her foot on the low side of the board to hold it down, then tell her sheltie to go to the high side of the board. She then would bounce the board with her foot while her sheltie was flying up and down, unconcerned, on the high end of the board.

 

Then progress to a plank (teeter board) which has a low pivot point. You can buy 2 foot lengths of PVC pipe at Lowe's. Start with a one inch pipe and move up in 1/2 inch increments.

 

Praise, treats, praise and more treats!!!

 

Jovi

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Hurray for Meg! I know your pain, it took 18 months for Wick to even engage the teeter. Even today, some 8 years later, it's still not her favourite obstacle, but hey, she'll do it to get to a tunnel. :-) Good job, way to stick it out!

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Congratulations!!! My pup is terrified of the teeter and refuses to work on any other equipment if anyone is in the vicinity of the teeter (it could make noise!!). This story gives me a light at the end of the tunnel, thanks for sharing!

 

Good going, Meg, that teeter is going to be a lot of fun for you!

 

I have a shy Sheltie who avoided the teeter for a solid YEAR in her agility training. Finally I found a better trainer and she told me to give Shiri a treat every time the teeter banged; I did that, and to this day (years later) if she hears a teeter bang she turns eagerly to me for a treat. It really helped her re-associate the noise with something positive.

 

What helped her the most in actually doing the teeter was getting a regulation teeter of our own and putting it in the back yard. That might not be feasible for everyone, I realize. :P

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My pup is terrified of the teeter and refuses to work on any other equipment if anyone is in the vicinity of the teeter (it could make noise!!).

 

Oh yes...other dogs on or near the teeter was scary too.

 

I worked on getting Meg used to loud noises in general. I didn't really have the teeter in mind at the time, but I think it helped. We were doing some construction work around the house so I just made sure to have Meg and a bunch of treats nearby while we hammered or used the saws. The power tools still send her out of the room, but its not so much out of fear as just dislike for the loudness which is ok.

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Congratulations on conquering the teeter dragon, Rievaulx and I have also been down this route, my big confident boy became very cautious around the teeter. We solved the problem by building our own, that was fully adjustable starting at 8" high and going up in 4" increments. Most of the training techniques seem to involve having a table at each end to reduce the angle but Rievaulx was still uncomfortable with being on a moving object above the ground. By starting with a full size teeter so low to the ground he was able to control the board on his own terms, and very quickly picked up on the concept of a pivot point, we slowly raised the the teeter encouraging him to run across, by the time we got to 16" high he was in control and we very quickly went to full height, took about 2 weeks. Now he is confident on any teeter and had taken them to fast and been bounced but gets right back on and remembers that he can control the pivot point. The only issue that remains is learning the difference between a dogwalk and a teeter, at our last trial he jumped off the dog walk on the upside plank, an experienced handler who was watching said you could see the puzzled look on his face when he reached the "pivot point" and it did not move. I think that will come with time and experience.

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I have taught the teeter to dogs in my classes and my own dogs in just about any possible way I could think of depending on the "need" of the time. Generally speaking if I am dealing with a puppy, it is the first thing I try to expose them to.

 

The worst case of teeter fear in class was a sheltie. The dog started out in training just fine but something happened and fear took over this dogs life. The dog got away from the dog walker one day and panic ran around the neighborhood. So bad had the fear become that the dog could not hardly function outside the owners home. Lots of rehabbing and the dog returned to agility but the sight of the teeter board just laying on the ground was enough to shut the dog down and if off lead, the dog would run for the door. It took awhile but by cutting and using rubber shims to absorb the bounce and sound we were able to get the dog "near" the board. We then got the dog on the board one night and jack potted her full of chicken. It still took some time but we got her confidence back. The dog's first trial was nail biter. The teeter was in the middle of the course. Everything was going just fine up until then when the dog froze half way up the board. It seemed like forever but the dog finished the teeter and went on to finish the course. Her owner burst into tears two jumps from the end of the course. It was so cool. First place too. They are still competing and a little over a year later are working towards their championship. The dog is still terrified of bicycles and wagons but as long as they keep those off the agility course, life should be good.

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Oddly, Dean loves the teeter. Just not the noise that goes with it. Since I don't require him hear other dogs slam teeters (it's not worth compromising his quality of life for a teeter), he only competes in NADAC, or in CPE in the classes where there is no teeter.

 

At class, our instructor allows us to put mats at each end of the teeter so it doesn't slam when he tips it. That works well. He gets to enjoy it, and the noise is out of the picture.

 

I'm looking forward to teaching teeter to Tessa. She already enjoys tippy board, so I think she is really going to like the teeter. I have a practice teeter - I had to get one to teach Dean since he couldn't work on it in group classes, and I mean to teach her in my own way in her own time.

 

Congrats to you on conquering the teeter. That is a fantastic feeling!!!

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