Tricky Dog Agility Teeters
My dogs hate the teeter. Maybe it’s the bang, maybe it’s the movement, but they just won’t do it. Any suggestions?
Yes – keep trying! Help your dog build confidence, first. Try a rocker board to get your dog used to some movement and the texture under their paws. If you can’t do that, try working with motion as follows.
Your dog needs to build confidence on the teeter – most dogs can’t just start out with it rocking. Try propping it up between two pause tables, stools, blocks – anything! So that it does not move at all. Reward your dog for jumping on it, jumping off it, running on it, turning around on it, and anything else you can think of. The point is to get them comfortable with working on a stable plank.
Then, shift one of the supports so the teeter ‘rocks’ just ever so slightly (1″-2″ maximum). Put a piece of duct tape at one end of the teeter and spray cheese or smear peanut butter on it for your dog to lick, and make the drop a little bit bigger. This is called the ‘bang game’, where the dog learns the reward is at the end of the bang. I would give cookies as well as the peanut butter or cheese, and effusive praise.
Work in short sessions, and do not change the drop more than an inch or two each session. Eventually you will work your way to a big drop and can remove the supports completely. Continue to make the see-saw a very rewarding obstacle, so that your dog won’t lose heart.
Now – if your dog is EXTREMELY sensitive to the banging, ask your trainer if you can sit in on other’s classes. Watch for the teeter, and every time another dog bangs it, give YOUR dog a treat and tell him how wonderful he is. This can help desensitize him to the noise, and then from there, move on to motion and the bang game. Good luck!