Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Teeter Boot Camp

Well, this isn't going to be as easy as I thought!

Lexi has had a teeter issue for several trials now.  Sometimes she does it, sometimes she doesn't.  She's had this issue since as far back as I can remember. We've retrained the teeter probably 3 times (basically just starting over and rebuilding confidence) and we're still not progressing.  It seems like 1 step forward 2 steps back.

It's clearly a confidence issue.  She knows the end criteria and I don't even remember EVER having to correct her for coming off the teeter, or flying off, or somehow or other not making her criteria (which is 4-on).  But, when a teeter doesn't do what she expects (typically it's when she finds a really heavy teeter that doesn't drop when she immediately gets to the end, or even vice versa), she freaks out and avoids it for the next who knows how long.

We've been teaching her the teeter using Wendy Pape's method (breaking it down into its components, bang, height, position, release, etc...)  I'm not sure if that was a contributing factor or not because the issue didn't show up until she was spooked for a reason, or even no reason.

I think I knew all along what needed to be done, but it doesn't sound like much fun.  Stuart confirmed my suspicions, and we were off to teeter boot camp.  We borrowed a teeter from a friend and it now resides in our living room (oh if my non-dog friends could see me now!) and Lexi is going to learn to get into position at different tipping points using weights.

I thought it would be easy.  But on the first attempt, she was weirded out by equipment in the house, and we had to start with just the bang and getting into position just on the down side.  Well, we moved on past that pretty quickly (I should also note it is not at full height) and went on to doing the whole thing.  When we originally retrained Stuart told us to not encourage her, but to allow her to find the tipping point on her own.  That is VERY hard to do as she'll go halfway up, decide it's not doing what she wants, and come back and get into position on the side that's already on the ground.  I'm trying not to lure her as I want her to think about it, but I keep thinking that if I lure her, maybe she'll realize it's not so scary.

She did it fine last night, and so this morning I decided to up the criteria and sometimes hold the teeter so she would have to run to the end before it moved.  SETBACK!  After I did that once, she didn't want to do it again.  I resorted to luring, and she still wasn't interested.  If my girl isn't interested in squeeze cheese, then I know I've pushed her too far (bad mom!) so we took a break and did something fun for cheese.  When Jonathan gets home we're going to have to lower the teeter even more and work on going to the end.

I guess I'm just not sure how to fix this if she's going to get worried every time she gets to the end and it doesn't move and we have to start over...any advice?

Inconspicuous, isn't it?  :)


  1. I had problems with one of my dogs who got frightened by a teeter. It took a long time to work through it, I think I spent 3 or 6 months... hard to remember now.

    What I did was LITERALLY break the teeter into pieces: base, board. I had him simply walk on and around the base (no board) at all on leash in a slip collar, no treats just walk around and over it and act like it isn't there. He was never allowed to bolt through this process and if he started to get squirelly, we stopped and he had to sit until he was ready to make forward progress in the direction I was asking him to take. (The precursor step to this was having him walk on-lead over bubble wrap and other goofy things, stopping after one or two steps and again never let him bolt away or through it).

    Then I started touching the teeter base with my feet to make a little noise. When he was ok with that, we went to an agility trial with a quiet clicker and clicked every time someone ELSE made the teeter "BANG". Then I had him on leash while we sat or walked past an assembled teeter and click-n-treat when I pushed the teeter down and rebound

    Then I put the board on the ground, no base, and restarted from there with loads of treats. We also used gates at the beginning and end to keep him from entering or bailing off the side. He is fine now.

  2. Well since you already tired to Wendy Papes method. Why dont you try the two table method. First the teeter is between two 24 inch tables ( like the chairs)
    . But you need the tables because you want your dog to run back and forth and tug when they get to each table. The board should not move when its between the 2 24inch tables. Then you drop one table to 20 inches, ect. If the dog fails, you got back to the last place the dog is successful.

  3. Good luck. She has lots of guts to keep at it.