I want more fun!
I’m looking for a fun obstacle for my dog. We’re having so much fun in agility! We’re looking for more obstacles to learn. He loves tunnels the most. Is there an out-of-the-way obstacle you can suggest to me that’s fun, easy to work with and affordable?
Of course I can! There are many more obstacles than are seen in common competitions, or in ‘regular’ venues. I think a crawl tunnel would suit you and your dog perfectly.
What is a crawl tunnel? A crawl tunnel is a cloth panel in a frame that the dog has to duck under, then as you slowly lower the panel in training, he learns to crawl beneath it. It’s almost a version of doggie limbo!
How do you train your dog to use it? Start with the panel at the highest level and recall your dog through it. It may help to have a target or treat waiting for them at the end. Praise your dog effusively for coming through, and work on lowering the roof little by little until your dog is wriggling through at a crawl. Once your dog is doing this reliably, add a command ‘crawl!’ or ‘go low’ or another command you like to the action. If your dog at any time becomes fearful or refuses, raise the roof a bit and keep working! Don’t go too fast for your dog- nobody learns to crawl in a day.
Where is it used in competition or for training? This unique obstacle is seen in UKC competitions. It’s also used in K-9 unit training and rehab! S&R dogs often learn the crawl command as well, to better enable them to get into small spaces where people may have become trapped.
Is there anything else the ‘crawl’ command is useful for? Sure! It can make for a fun trick! Work with teaching your dog ‘stop, drop, and crawl’ like you would in case of a fire. It’s a very cute trick! Another use I’ve heard of is when a cord needed to be run under the porch and her human couldn’t fit, a wonderful dog crawled the entire length of the porch happily, thanks to her crawl tunnel training! Crawling builds core strength and leg strength as well, and so can be useful for dog rehab or conditioning. Remember, agility is all about fun and building a relationship with your dog. Have fun!