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Teeter-totter/seesaw help (training question)

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Hi all.


This weekend I thought I would start to introduce Tess to the teeter obstacle and I was hoping to get advice on the best way to do this.


Tess is afraid of everything, but she has now mastered the tire jump, the other jumps, the tunnel, and slanted-out weave poles.


I also have an A-frame and wondered if I should do that first before we do the teeter.


A class is not an option for us at this point, but Tess is a year old and has a clean bill of health.


I got videos (from the library, amazingly) that are by Joanne Simmons-Moake and I got a book by her too (also from the library! Great library!!). I've watched the one on obstacle training and find it amazing that the dogs will actually even go up to the teeter, let alone get on it.


I am sure that Tess will be terrified of the teeter and the motion of tipping will really freak her out. I have my husband to use both as a helper and as a reward (he is her Very Favorite Reward and she will do almost anything to get to him to be cuddle and snuggled), plus, of course, toys and food treats. (:


Any ideas? I don't want to start off on the wrong foot. I think that expecting her to just go up to it and sniff it would be a good start but beyond that I am at a loss. I don't want to scare her.


We are going to almost totally flatten the A-frame on the ground with just a tiny bit of a hill in the middle at first, and then go from there. I'm sure she will be fine with that one after I get her near enough to throw a ball to the other side for her.


Everything we have is USDAA regulation size/type/safe.


Thanks for any suggestions. (:


Allie & Tess

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Start small. Make it a fun game.

Use a "wobble board" or something similar...




After you introduce it, put it in a hallway so walking on it becomes an everyday thing, i.e. no big deal. As with everything in agility, build confidence with loooooooow equipment and only progress up in height/difficulty when you have confidence and speed at the current height.



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We're new to agility, too, but I can explain how our trainer has introduced the teeter in our beginning agility class.


It takes 2 people. You don't start by getting the pup running along the teeter at all, but just bouncing it down to get used to the sound and motion.


Pad the "landing spot" (where the uphill part of the teeter will hit the ground) so it won't be quite so loud when it hits.


Person 1 holds the yummiest, favoritest treats (or favoritest toy) and kneels on one side of the uphill part of the teeter (maybe closer to the center than the end), facing across the narrow dimension of the teeter.


Person 2 holds pup on leash and approaches the teeter directly opposite Person 1 (so the narrow dimension of the teeter is between them). Person 1 shows pup the treat or toy and says "Do you want it??? Come get it!!!" in a very excited voice, encouraging the pup to put its front paws up onto the side of the teeter, thus pushing it down to the ground. Pup gets the treat or toy and Person 2, holding the leash, quickly pulls the pup off of the teeter while Person 1 makes sure the teeter doesn't bounce back up and hit the pup on the way off.


Repeat until pup is comfortable with the sound and motion.


One of our pups just jumped up and didn't mind the sound or motion and I could hardly haul her off to do it again. The other one was more tentative about putting her feet up, but with a few repetitions, she got so she didn't mind it.


Next, assuming the dog knows how to walk along a narrow board (dog walk for example), you can take the dog to the downhill end to start up the teeter. Person 2 should keep the pup on leash for this and just walk the pup up the ramp. At the tipping point, Person 1 (who again has treats or toy) gets the pup to stop at the top for the treat, then guides the teeter down BY HAND at first, as the pup moves forward to walk down off the teeter.


This is how our trainer has been doing it. We're not too far along yet with it, but so far, neither of our girls has a problem with the teeter.


Deanna in OR

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I love all these suggestions. I am going to start with the thing in the hallway, that is a really good idea. We have narrow hallways in this rental house and not only will Tess get used to the thing quickly, I am sure I can get my husband to stand at one end and be the reward! I can put a short dowel under the middle part and it will rock a bit (after she gets used to walking on it in the hallway).


Thanks. (:

Allie & Tess

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Our trainer started us with the dog walk first. It was kept very low to the ground. We went to A Frame next, also kept low. Finally, we did the teeter totter. It was kept very low as well. As an aside, we put hula hoops on the ends of the dog walk, which forces the dog to touch the contact zones. When we removed them, she still touched the way she was supposed to. Good luck to you.

Tootsie's Mom

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Amen on the wobble board. It takes only 1 bad experience on these contact obstacles to completely screw up your training.


Many clubs and people see these obstacles and just think "we gotta do that NOW!" but don't bother to think - or know - what could happen if that dog slips.


For example - by teaching the teeter with one handler walking the dog on leash you are setting that dog up to think that the only way it can go on the teeter is with someone right next to them. That could be a proble later on.


If you introduce the wobble board, you get the dog used to movement in all directions. With or without you near it.


Also, I would stress that you should teach and perfect targeting work BEFORE going on to any contact obstacles. You need to have that control - 100% fool proof - on these obstcles BEFORE introducing them. It will help in the long run and not just with contacts, but weaves and others as well.


I am now in the 3rd 15 week session and we have yet to name or go over any obstacle just to 'GO' over it. We are working on turns on voice command, outs, play drive and targeting - 2 on 2 off. I think that our 3rd session (starting this week) will actually have us starting the 2 by 2 weaves AND the wobble board.


This club used to only have Beg, Int. and Adv classes. But all the advanced handlers are having horrible problems with distance work on the dogs that they had to sit down and figure it out. The decided their foundations were bad and have re-vamped their training. I've see dogs that I envy - going over all the fun stuff. But they suck and have hit a wall in their training. And now, they look on us with envy because of our foundation training.


So that is something to think about. And if you feel it makes sense you could do more research on 2 on 2 off training, etc.



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It sounds like you're in a VERY good program....stick with it! I wish my students had better foundation training; I get some in my (advanced competition) classes that haven't had good foundation work and it's frustrating for all involved to have to go back and learn it. Not many students have the patience needed with their first dog to do it the right way. kudos to your training club for doing it right.


WRT teaching the teeter, some trainers teach a stop at the pivot point while others teach the dog to go to the end and ride it down. Either will work, but the latter gives you a MUCH faster time. :rolleyes:


Another exercise that will help in your contact training is "run the board", where you get the dog comfortable running all out on a low level narrow board (propped up on cmu's at each end). This teaches the dog what you ultimately want (speed), creates confidence in the dog on a narrow bouncy walk, and also teaches the dog how to "bail" if he loses his footing. Dogs are more likely to get hurt if they try to "stick" it while they're losing balance...teaching them it's OK to jump off may save an injury and every trainer should allow their dog to do this.


-Laura (heading to an agility trial this weekend :D )

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Start with the wobble board. If she's a shy girl I wouldn't even work on the regular teeter or dog walk yet. Once she's comfortable with the wobble board, moving around on it, doing 2on 2off on it, then I'd move to a very low A-frame. When she's 100% comfortable on the wooble and A-frame you can replace the board with a thinner one to look more like a teeter, but keep it low still. Have someone ready to slow the fall of the board as she tips it and have them catch it when she finishes her 2X2 and steps off.

This is how my instructor taught these objects to the timid dogs. She's very successful and trains a non-traditional breed that is known for timid/high strung behaviors (whippets).

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HKM's Mom -- thanks for your post. I appreciate the other posts, too, but it is especially nice to hear from someone who knows about shy/timid dogs.


Tess is the world's biggest scaredy-dog. :rolleyes:


I just got done with an obedience class and I had planned to take another class from this woman right up until, in the 4th class, she said "Pull her up here to let me pet her. Don't let her back away like she's scared all the time."


Excuse me? I thought this was a "positive" training class?


For Tess, these obstacles are a confidence-building exercise. Also, it is tons of fun to wave my arms and shout "hoop" or "over" or "weave" or "tunnel" or "dog puddle" (wading pool) and have her go to the right thing. The videos have been great. I hope to take a class, but I am going to wait a bit until Tess has seen and can do most of the obstacles here at home with no stress.


What? What do you mean they don't have wading pools in agility courses?? :D


Allie & Tess

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