When I started thinking about getting a new puppy, my wish list was pretty simple:
1) brave … “self-destructive brave” was how I phrased it in conversation … I wanted a pup who, like my last pup (Banner ’96), would go boldly where and when asked … no fear response, no lack of confidence, no questioning the sanity of the request … just brave. Later I thought about bravery as “overcoming fear” and decided what I really wanted was a puppy who had NO FEAR. I didn’t want a pup who had to be brave to overcome fear. I wanted a pup who said, “what’s there to be afraid of?” I adjusted my wish list to “unconcerned and confident.”
2) “I don’t want one of those pricked-eared, coyote-legged, black tri string beans.” Oh well … I’m madly in love with a pricked-eared, coyote-legged, black tri string bean, and loving every minute of it. Sooooo … back to the unconcerned and confident bit. <g>
It’s not that Bud and I don’t love our rescued, non-confident, fearful, or carsick dogs. We adore them.
But there’s something intoxicating about walking to the start line of agility, obedience, or rally, with a dog who has only has eyes for you, is unconcerned about people / dogs / gates / stewards / flooring / equipment / etc.
So you can imagine how pleased I am with Tempest’s teeter performance.
After Kory showed a lack of recognition for the teeter at his first show (Bud calls all contacts “walk up”) we decided it would make sense to use a separate name for the teeter.
I’ve always called it “teeter,” and all other contacts “walk,” but teeter sounds alot like “T” — and I use “T” as an attention-getting device when Tempest is working. “T” means look-at-me, check-in, pay-attention, etc.
So we settled on “Bang it!” We’ve both been doing “bang it!” exercises with our dogs 1-2 times a day.
My equipment layout for Tempest is simple … straight line from a pause table is a wing jump and 20 feet of empty floor to the teeter.
Exercise 1: the table exercise … criteria I’m rewarding includes a) move in front of me to the table, b) hop on without hesitation, c) turn and face me, d) lie down. When I approached this exercise the first time, with Tempest’s toy, he didn’t get the idea of behaving in such a specific way for the pleasure of tugging with his toy. So I put away the toy and brought out his string cheese and clicker — he got the behavior I wanted in just a few minutes. Now that he understands (as much as a 5-mo-old pup CAN understand) my criteria, I’ve brought out the toy again and reward for quick downs with excitement and release to the toy.
Exercise 2: the stay exercise … criteria I’m rewarding include, a) lying down or sitting for a stay, b) staying in a nice-tucked posture — no slouchy sits, no floppy downs, c) an implied stay, that is, if I say sit or down I expect you to maintain that position until I give you more information. He’s had a couple of training sessions on stay, learning to let me walk away, walk around him, or stand beside him — in a sit or down.
Exercise 3: the lead out … criteria I’m rewarding include the stay criteria above, plus a) recognition of my release word, b) excited and vigorous dismount of the table, and c) coming to me across the jump.
Exercise 4: bang-it! … criteria I’m rewarding include, a) approaching the teeter from a wide variety of positions (Tempest puts himself on the teeter, from straight on, from the side, etc.), b) controlling the board’s tip, c) moving boldly to the high end of the teeter and riding it down, d) freezing in position as the board drops, e) stepping off the board with 2 front feet and freezing in his 2-on-2-off position.
I forward chain the complete sequence. First we do a couple of table exercises. Then a couple of stay exercises, leading out a few feet, then walking around the jump, always returning to Tempest to reward him for staying.
After a few of these exercises, I have Tempest go to the pause table and lie down. I say “stay” and walk away.
My goal is to walk to the descent of the teeter but, if Tempest anticipates the release I calmly turn and, without recrimination, return to the table.
It usually takes a couple of tries but he’s always solid on the third or fourth lead out, so I’m confident he’s getting the idea that stay means stay, regardless of where I go.
I walk out to the descent of the teeter, turn a face him, stick my lead hand in front of his path (as a target and an indication that he’ll end his work there), and cue him “T – bang it!”
He comes boldly across the jump, runs with decent speed to the teeter, runs up the teeter, bangs it down, sticks his 2-0-2-0, and freezes. I toss the toy ahead of him, give him his release word (“Yes!”) and let him play with his toy.
I’m pretty excited about this from a puppy.
At mealtimes we’re working on heeling. Not long distances, but with good attention and some precise movement. A few 180’s, some stops and starts, and backing up when he forges towards his meal.