FAQ on almost everything






- How do you teach a see-saw?

I start with a normal size see-saw, hold it at the end, call a dog over, stop the dog and start feeding when he is at the end - or a little sooner for heavier dogs (meaning dogs, heavier as an average BC Ė for heavier dogs, you might want them to stop a little sooner as that) and while feeding, I put a see-saw down VERY slowly, partly not to scare a dog, but mostly to imprint the waiting part. Then, I will let it down faster and faster, but I still always hold it completely still until the dog is where I want him to be. I'm really happy with the results that this method gives.



The biggest mistakes Iíve seen in people, using this method were:


- Not always holding a see-saw for long enough period of time Ė if you sometimes hold it and sometimes not, a dog learns itís a scary, unpredictable obstacle. If you want a dog to feel comfortable, it has to be very clear: a see-saw will never, ever move until you get to the end. You only stop holding it when your dog runs fast enough till the end that a see-saw doesnít have time to move before he gets there anyway. With dogs with no previous experience with a see-saw, it doesnít take very long, but when retraining, it can take very, very long before you can stop holding it since you need to make a dog believe that the tip point is not where it used to be anymore: now, a see-saw only tips when youíre right at the end.

- Not holding it firmly enough, sometimes letting it to move down a couple of cm and then heave it back up. A see-saw, moving up and down unpredictably is a really scary obstacle, so make sure you get a hold of a see-saw soon enough and firmly enough.


- Not doing the homework of first making a dog comfortable on moving things first. You canít expect your dog to really feel comfortable on a see-saw if he has never learned that itís him that controls the movement, that movement is fun and that the noise is not scary. Here are some suggestions on how you can teach a dog that:

1. get a plank: you donít even need such a long plank as for running contacts - every, even very short plank will do, you can simply put out one shelf from your closet. Roll a towel and put it in the middle and then shape a dog to make a plank move by pushing it down with front feet. Jumping up and riding it down is even better. You can play this with very young puppies already. As they grow, you can use bigger and bigger objects under your plank and eventually, use a low see-saw or, if you donít have one, just hold a normal see-saw close enough to the ground for a dog to reach it and push it down

2. bang a teeter on different grounds, click as it makes a noise and reward to teach a dog that noise is good

3. get a skate-board and teach a dog to push it with front feet and eventually jump on it while itís moving. Itís a nice trick anyway and dogs just love it, I teach that trick already in my puppy classes

4. use any unstable, rocky objects to teach a dog that interacting with them is fun


And, of course:

NEVER MAKE A DOG DO SOMETHING HE IS NOT COMFORTABLE WITH! Anything he does, it should be his choice and your only job is to encourage choices that you like. Donít use a leash, a collar or a lure to make a dog do something he is afraid to do. If you do so, youíre only betraying his trust - and youíre certainly NOT teaching him that working with you is fun - what should always be your major goal!


- Thanks, this is very clear, and simple (I believe that's a theme for your methods!!!)  Do you wait until you are done with dogwalk training, or teach it in parallel?

Parallel. On a different place (home vs. our club), with different commands. And yes, I don't like complicating. I know many complicators and they all produced dogs that think too much and don't run just as much (not that they're slow, they just don't run with 110% as La does for example). Itís a very common problem I'm seeing lately and I admit that at some points, I got dangerously close to it with Bu too. Lately it seems she came to the conclusion that she can do her thinking outside agility ring and runs much better now, despite we still fall apart if she gets a feeling she must think about something afterall.





- I was just interested in what weave pole method you use. Everyone talks so much about your awesome running contacts but I've noticed that your weave poles are flawless too. Some of those WC weave entries were crazy! How did you train it?

Good observation, I really do gain a lot by being able to send my dogs straight to the weaves with no maneuvering before it. I mostly need to thank their weave-poles entries for finishing jumping run on WC 2003 as 1st and 2nd with La and Lo. On this year WC, there was even more emphasis on entries, so itís getting even more important skill to have and I sure do quite some training on it. I use channel method with no wires/guides and progress very slowly, with lots of emphasis on independent performance and all possible entries already from the start, so when a channel is closed, they already know all that.



- At what age do you start training weave-poles?


As with everything, I start early in order to do it slowly. My dogs can find any entry and do the whole set regardless of my position way before they do any real weaving. I find independence and good entries way more important as actually making a dog weave, so I do all the work already with an open channel.



page 1 2