Couch potato dog? Try this game while watching t.v.!
“Distance Work”, or getting your dog to move ahead of you to an obstacle, is one of the more advanced exercises of agility. But you can start training your dog to do this at any level now, by incorporating little games into your everyday training. One of my favorite exercises is done indoors while watching t.v.!
Prepare ahead by setting up an obstacle in your living room, like a simple jump. Position it up so your dog has to go over the jump, not around it (like in a hall or somewhere where the sides are blocked). Put the bars down really low to start. With your dog in a stay (or not looking), place behind the jump a plastic lidded container (like an old butter container) with a snack inside. Poke a hole in the top so your dog can smell the treat. Then go sit down or lay on your couch for a bit. Now, don’t wake your dog up from a sound sleep, but if he is just sitting there, or doing nothing in particular (like you), you can then point to the jump. Say ‘jump’ (or whatever word you use). The first time this happens, unless your dog has been patiently waiting for you to release him from the stay to investigate that mysterious container, your dog might not know what you are saying at first. So you’ll have to get up and point closer to the jump, and the container, to encourage him to come over. When he goes over the jump, reward him by opening the container. Try it again over the course of your tv time (during commercials!), each time taking your dog over to the jump until he gets the idea. Keep playing this game, and eventually you should be able to just say “jump”, and your dog is going to immediately seek out the jump, wherever you placed it. (Future games will have moved the jump around). This may take a few “Lost” episodes (or whatever you like to watch), but its a fun way to teach an important skill, while enjoying your tv time at the same time!