Tunneling Through

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.


5 Comments on “Tunneling Through

  1. Yes! One of my dogs was almost ruined when I ran out of patience, however when I got my cool and tried again a few days later, with some patience she was OK!

  2. Another thing to try to make sure your dogs are going straight through the chute (less likely to get tangled if they go straight) is to add a target at the end of the chute. Start with the folded up/shortened chute so the dogs start to expect the target there. When you eventually phase out the target, be sure to sometimes throw rewards straight out in front of the chute to encourage the straight line. Also, be careful when talking to your dogs while they are in the chute. Your voice can be encouraging but they may turn toward your voice if you are on the side of the chute, making it easier to get tangled.

  3. Very good idea. It’s always good in agility to remember that if a dog has an issue with an obstacle all of a sudden, go back to the basics and start over. I had to recently do this with the teeter and my dog after a fly off incident freaked him out. Also, have plenty of patience with them, they will get it. 🙂

    • Definitely on the patience. Dogs trust us SO much! That they would even consider going on something that scared them again, to please us, is mindboggling to me.