Tips on Starting the Dog Agility Teeter

solid_contactsAlso known as the See-saw, the Teeter can be one of the more difficult obstacles to teach and for dogs to become confident on. From the dog’s point of view it can look the same as the dog walk. If the teeter is correctly built your dog should be able to see the base on both sides of the teeter as well as the off-side contact color. This helps the dog to distinguish between the two obstacles along with your verbal command.

To introduce your dog to this obstacle, it is best if you can lower the plank, and slowly raise it. If you don’t have access to an adjustable teeter, it is helpful to have a friend on the other side to help steady and guide your dog over the plank. Holding the leash and the dog’s collar, guide his nose low to the plank with a treat. Your helper should be spotting the dog from the other side of the teeter. When you reach the center of the teeter, have your helper use their free hand to keep the plank from falling too fast. Edge your dog inch by inch, telling your dog to wait, while the plank slowly moves down.

It will be a bit awkward at first if you are working with a large or fearful dog. You may want to enlist the help of a third person who control the plank. As your dog gets more confident, allow your dog to control the pivot. Continue to guide the board down so it doesn’t crash down and scare your dog. Soon you should be able to let the board hit harder.

It is also important that your dog pauses and waits at the top of the plank, after controlling the pivot. This will prevent losing points on future “fly-offs.” This is a common problem, in which dogs jump off the side or off the front of the plank before the plank hits the ground. Since this obstacle can be such a bear, it is important to practice this one often, in different environments, and with different floor surfaces.

There are specific games to play if your dog is sound sensitive and scared by the bang noise of the teeter. It is important to run your dog on different teeters during their training so they become accustomed to different feels and different sounds teeters can make.

It is also important to know that there are those that teach a running dog walk and if that is your choice for your dog, you will want to follow your instructors protocol for teaching the running dog walk as you can destroy your dog’s confidence if you make a mistake in that training.