Dog Agility Teeter / Seesaw Training

solid_contactsThere are a few pieces of dog agility equipment that really don’t make sense to a dog’s natural instincts like the chute, weave poles and of course the teeter. Their minds tell them that shifty ground is unsafe and we have to retrain that response into one of fun and assertiveness. The best way to do this is to start well away from a full sized, competition style teeter. The reason being is it is very high and can be very noisy or sensory overload.

One of the best ways to start your dog on the teeter is with a teeter plank on the ground teaching contacts and good drive to the nose of the board. You can either use the board off a larger teeter, or if you have a smaller dog or puppy, you can use our smaller portable teeter. In order to simulate the movement, the rocker board is perfect and you can easily convert ours to a simple teetering board once your dog gains confidence with movement.

With both of these pieces of equipment you will begin with luring your dog onto the board or allowing them to investigate, treating each time they touch it with their paw. Then increase your expectations by treating when they stay on the board or move to two feet. Working with them until they will place all for paws on the board. If at anytime they come off the board you will simply lure them back on.

If your dog has an issue with the sound of the teeter hitting the ground you will need to work the “bang game” until they are comfortable with the sounds the teeter makes when coming down. Depending on how fearful your dog is you will start at a distance away from the teeter that they can remain calm while someone else allows the teeter to drop from a low height making minimal noise.  You can slowly move your dog closer to the teeter always treating and praising each time the teeter hits the ground.

When your dog is comfortable with a little noise, slowly increase the height of the teeter working the above lesson at each height change. Then you can start having your dog make the teeter bang with a paw. Again, starting with you or someone else holding the teeter at a low height and asking the dog to paw the board. Each time they do they get a treat and praise. Soon they learn it is fun to make the noise. You can then gradually raise the height of the board asking them to “bang” it down with their paw.

When they are comfortable with the sounds of the teeter coming down, keeping the apex of the teeter low or starting with the entry side held up with a solid object like an agility table, you will ask your dog to jump up onto the teeter from the side near the apex so they can ride the teeter down a very short distance and feel the movement and the bang.

Again, slowly lower the entry side of the teeter so the dog has a longer travel down. If you are able to adjust the apex of the teeter you simple slowly raise it until the dog is confident at each height. Don’t rush your dog through this training and be careful how much drive you ask for in the beginning as a fall at this point could be a big set back.

If at any point your dog seems hesitant, you have gone too far too fast. Just go back to the place they were confident and practice at that point a little longer before progressing.