Terrified of the Table
One of our members emailed me with the following question. I gave some advice (below), but I would like to ask if YOU have any other suggestions? Click on the “comments” button to the upper right to share your thoughts! This member will be notified that there are responses.
“I am working with Ziva, 2 1/2 year old female Weimaraner who was recently spayed as I am through showing her in conformation. We had no problems getting our Novice titles. BUT, as soon as we moved up to open we started having a table issue. Ziva would run and jump on the table but refuse to sit or down. Now the problem has advanced to her circling the table before getting on it. I haven’t been rough with her or raised my voice with commands. She normally performs the table while as class, training at home or anywhere I tell her table down. I think she knows I can’t do anything while in competetion. I have tried feeding her on the table, generously rewarding her while on the table in the down position. This hasn’t helped at all. I am now fixing her dinner, leaving it at the house, then going to the ring to work. After she does a small series of obsticles, I have her do the table. Then I say in a very happy voice “Good table, let’s get your dinner”. I just started this training method and we haven’t been to any trials yet to see how it’s going to work. Any suggestions of what else we could try??”
Interesting question! Dogs are always keeping us guessing, aren’t they? I have a few suggestions which I’ll share here, but I’m hoping that others will offer their advice too.
First, dogs are definitely known to have behavioral changes after getting fixed, so this could be part of the problem. Another thing that may have caused this is sitting on something uncomfortable which gave her a bad memory. Maybe it was a splinter that she got poked with. Or maybe a bee stung her. Funny girl. She is obviously trying to avoid the table by running around it!
Ziva needs to be reprogrammed. One suggestion is to use a pause box for a while instead of the table. This will allow her to sit or lie down directly on the grass, in a border, instead of jumping on a table. I would even call it the table! The goal is to help help heal the bad memory of the “bad” table. Give her lots of treats or rewards for going inside the border, and I’d also move it around the yard too. After she is happily doing the pause box I’d then progress to asking her to step up on a table – top ONLY. Or use a square board (that has no splinters) with good traction (so that she doesn’t slip off it in a run). The point is to have the table as flat to the ground as possible. You can also subtly prepare her for this by putting the table top (again, top only, no legs) inside the house, in the kitchen maybe, where you can feed her dinner on it. The point is to make it less obvious what you are doing. Eventually of course the goal is to bring it outside and then put some short legs on the table so she has to jump up. But all these steps must be done slowly and methodically, making sure she is confident with each stage.
I hope some of this helps!