Ace The Dog Agility Pause Table

Dog-Agility-Training-Pause-TableNot every agility course has a Pause Table or Pause Box, but it really is a neat obstacle.  It is normally placed somewhere in the middle of the run so the dog has time to get cooking on the course to challenge it’s ability to control those emotions in order to get onto the table or into the pause box correctly then maintain a solid stay for five seconds before turning the throttle back up to finish the course in high speed again.  Depending on the Association or Club putting on the trial that may be a sit, down or stand stay.  What remains the same is that the dog must enter the obstacle without passing the rear plane of the obstacle either when getting on or by sliding off.

The pause table is actually two obstacles in combination, the stay and the table.  Your dog must have a solid stay in all positions as well as be able to jump up onto the table in control so they do not fly off the other side.  And while the surface is treated with anti-skid agents, if the dog is coming in full tilt it will most likely keep sliding right off the other side.  So where do you start?  I suggest you start with a stay so you can incorporate it into the obstacle performance right from the beginning.

Teaching a solid stay requires the handler to be patient and put as many small steps into the lesson as possible.  One of the best ways to ruin your dog’s stay is to get greedy and push your dog to fast into an advanced stay situation.  It seems obvious, but demands attention that your dog needs to know the sit, down or stand command.  Your dog should also know your release command such as “OK.” Then, your first step is to decide on your command for the stay.  Stay and wait are popular along with your palm facing the dog’s nose with fingers up.

When teaching the stay you need to start close to your dog and keep the stay short building time gradually and using lots of praise.  When your dogs is ready add a bit of distance to your stay starting back at a shorter time and work that distance until your dog is solid.  When you are about six feet away you can add movement to the stay.  Take a step to one side and back and release your dog and praise.  Build on the number of steps until you can walk all the way around your dog.  Then add turning your back on your dog for short times and build that out. Then take your dog other places and start at the beginning.  It shouldn’t take as long as the dog as an idea of what you want, but you are adding emotion to your lesson so you need to help your dog succeed.

Only change one thing at a time and when you add difficulty shorten the time or distance, make it easier for them to get the right answer with the high degree of difficulty. Know your dog as well.  Some teach against making eye contact with your dog while on the stay as you could encourage the dog to leave the stay.  If your dog wants to move when you look him in the eye, look just over the top of their head instead.

Adding the pause table is now the easy part.  You will start with it on the ground or as low as it can go and teach your dog to get on it with your command and as soon as he does follow it up with your stay.  Treat and praise the dog for getting on the table and getting into position keeping it time short, release your dog from the stay and praise while on the table. Some do not like to praise the dog when they jump down as this could encourage the dog to get off the table early for the praise.  So run a ways out before stopping and praising your dog.  You can then add distance and start sending your dog to the table starting with a short distance then building.  Make sure your dog is solid on the stay position command and getting onto the table before adding distance or height to the table.

Here comes an interesting problem.  What if your dog wont leave the table at some point? I would go back to a point where the dog was dismounting the table and work longer at that spot and build slower.  Also, make sure your body position is not hindering the dog.  Turn and run calling the dog, getting excited.  Use whatever the dog loves to work for as incentive as well as making recall a fun game away from agility.  Get that tug toy or squeaky toy and make being with you fun and inviting, praising with treats as your dogs keeps up with you running back and forth.  It may also be that the dog is on overload and you need to take a break from the table for awhile.

Make sure you practice your stays for longer than five seconds at home.  And at competition remember that in dog agility, the word “Go” has two syllables. The “G” and the “O”.  Your dog must stay on the table until the judge has finished the “O”.  Remember that, and you should have no problem waiting the full length of time before releasing your dog!

Getting your dog solid on the basics of his stay will not only improve every following training session, it will ensure that your dog is solid, confident and ready to have fun on the dog agility field.  And if you need a Pause Table or need to refinish your existing Table check out our full line of Dog Agility Tables including TDAA at Affordable Agility!