Dog agility is a popular dog sport for many people. It can be hard on some dogs. The constant pounding that their joints take from jumping over the jumps on various hard floors can lead to problems later in life. The reward is that there is nothing better than watching a dog that really enjoys the sport. Even if you don’t compete in Agility trials it is worth while to train your dog in this sport for the shear enjoyment that a dog gets from the work.
The biggest challenge that you run across when learning how to train a dog for Agility is the teeter totter. This piece of equipment doesn’t seem like it would be overly difficult but the moving platform is quite difficult for a dog to get used to. There are a couple of ways that the teeter totter can be trained. Breaking down the skills is the best way to get started.
The first skill that needs to be mastered by the dog is to walk on a 12 inch plank. This can be done in stages. Start with a plank set on the ground to get the dog used to walking on the plank. When the dog appears to be respecting the plank, raise it up on some cinder blocks so that it is raised off the ground. Most dogs will not have a problem understanding what is required. A treat held in front of the dog’s nose will get it moving along the plank if the dog is nervous.
The second skill that your dog needs to master to be comfortable on the teeter totter is to walk an incline. The A-frame is a good way for this skill to be attacked. The A-frame will serve two purposes, first it will get the dog climbing the incline, but more importantly, the dog will see the yellow stripe at the top and bottom of the equipment. When training for competition the dog needs to put its feet on the yellow section that spans the first 42 inches of various pieces of equipment.
When you have the dog working on the plank and the incline teaching how to train a dog to use the teeter totter is fairly easy. Lead the dog up the teeter totter with a treat, makes sure that the dog pauses at the top of the incline. Here is where it gets a bit tricky. If you let the dog pass the balance point the teeter totter will drop and may slam into the ground. This is jarring to the dog and may cause it to startle and jump off the equipment. Have a helper slowly lower the teeter totter to the ground the first few times until the dog is comfortable with the feel of the moving plank. Make a big deal over the dog when it completes the skill successfully.
Dog agility training can be a wonderful way to bond with your dog. Teach each piece of equipment with treats and praise and you will soon have a dog running joyfully around the course, up the teeter totter and down the other side. A happy dog is a joy to watch.