Twisting in Tunnels

Q. Both my GSDs go flying into the flat tunnel, get half way along the flat part and get twisted up in it. I then have to send them through with someone holding the end up a little way. I always make sure the flat is laying in line and untwisted before they go through it toavoid this. It doesn’t happen every time but quite often. Of course they are big dogs and take up a lot of tunnel. Any suggestions please?
Thank you

A. Hmm, this is a bit of a pickle. When dogs are consistently getting stuck and tangled, they tend to develop fears (no matter how mild) that affect their performance, which in turn can make the unintended result repeat.

Go a step back in your training, and start with getting them going fast through just the barrel. When they’re speeding through, add the chute, but fold it up so that it’s shorter. Recall your dog through the flat tunnel, cheering them on for speed. When they’re driving through that, gradually lengthen it and reward speed.

If your dog has enough force going through the flat tunnel, they’ll make it. Always make sure to talk to your dogs while they’re in the collapsed tunnel so they know where you are, and that they’re not hopelessly lost forever in the flat tunnel! Give them jackpot treats when they work their way out of the cloth, so that they know their reward is for getting through as quickly as they can, not being hauled out and petted to overcome their entanglement.

Another idea is to help your dog get used to chutes and tunnels, try putting another tunnel or barrel into the exit end of the chute to hold it open. Your dog can see through! it’s a miracle! Slowly faze it out after your dog gets the idea of running all the way through.

Can anyone think of any more suggestions to help?

Do you have any training questions or general questions? Ask us at!

5 Comments on “Twisting in Tunnels

  1. If you are along side of the chute be careful not to talk, because the dog will turn toward your voice. Only encourage from straight on where you want him to end up. I agree the targets work great. Agility is so much fun!

  2. My bernese mountain dogs hit the chute so fast with heads up they always were getting tangled and even rolling it…I put a treat at the beginning of the barrel to get their heads down and another at the end. Gradually I was able to remove the front one and then the end one.

  3. My sheltie used to have the same problem with getting tangled up in the chute; he would turn towards me as he went through. After this happened a few times, he didn’t want to go in the chute at all. I had to re-train him. I used the method you described in the last paragraph and also used a target about 10 feet after the chute, so that he always focused ahead and not on me. Now, he always goes straight through the chute and blasts through it! I’m very proud of him for overcoming his fear!


  4. I taught my lab to go through the chute using a target at the far end while someone initially held the fabric all the way open with the chute half rolled up. We gradually held the chute less open and unrolled to it’s full length, but kept the loaded target on the ground. Using the target teaches the dog to keep their head down, which should keep them from getting tangled.