help in overcoming teeter fear

I'm fairly new to agility. I've been working w/my border/heeler x for about 9 months. She was consistently running the teeter,with a spotter at the end. She was hesitant but would do it and hold a good contact. One day she ran up the teeter solo and scared herself now she will have nothing to do with it. I've been using a wobble board without movement and she will get on it,sit and down. The other day I added slight movement to it,she jumped right on got scared and jumped off. I gently coaxed her onto it holding her collar and she did sit for a split second before jumping off now she won't get on and we're back to square one,a board w/no movement. Any suggestions on how to get her to trust the board?

Hello! Really great question....not a great problem to have! Getting a dog over something they have deemed unsafe can be a bit of a long road, just keep that in mind when you do each step, it's not about constantly moving forward it's about going at her pace. It doesn't sound like she's comfortable with movement under her feet so a wobble board is a good place to start. I would suggest a couple of different things here.

  1. Keep working the wobble board but make sure it's her idea not you forcing her on by the collar. Think of any fear you have and if someone forced you into the situation! Ahhh! :) It's important that she knows that SHE is in control of how the board moves and that it's okay to get off. I'd rig it with just a little tiny bit of movement, take her breakfast or dinner a little handful of it and set it on the middle of the board and walk away. Try to place it in such a way that she needs to touch it before she can grab the food. This way it makes it her idea and she'll get to it if she's hungry.
  2. Table to Table teeter. I use this to teach dogs the teeter in general. They can learn a little bit of height but feel comfortable with no movement. I put my teeter down to a low height, and place a table under each end. Then I get the dog up on one table and walk with them across the teeter board to the next table. I set the tables with the teeter just touching a tiny edge of it so when the dog gets to the other side they have a platform. Then when they start to get comfortable going back and forth I make one table slightly smaller and have just a tiny bit of movement and do the back and forth game again. Once again if at any point the dog is uncomfortable I don't force them, just let them go back and start again. Working with their threshold. Over time Making one of the tables smaller and smaller so they get use to some movement. (Boy I didn't realize how much it is to explain in text!) Hopefully that makes sense though! :) It's a good starting point and the dog can feel more confident in the little steps. Some dogs are unfased and can move through quickly but I use this method for my dogs who are more timid with it.
    On my rescue kid I had the table to table teeter setup with no movement, placed wings on the sides of the teeter so she couldn't cheat, placed her high value treats just far enough on the board that she had to venture out with atleast a paw and waited. It took maybe 5minutes before she got brave and just went for it, then we had a party! Since then her teeter work has been a breeze. Just take your time, there is no rush and let it be her idea. :)

    You can also read about Jaakko's Dog Chi's story with the Teeter on the link below!

Thanks these are some great ideas. I knew guiding her on by the collar wasn't such a good idea but wanted to show her it was safe. I definitely haven't done it again and she will get on the now stable board so hopefully I dodged a bullet there. As far as feeding her on the board I feed raw and she is used to eating with my other dogs so that may not be an option but I can certainly try it with some high value treats! I like the idea of the table teeter table set up and will try it next time I'm at my practice field!

Hi Keri I second the table to the teeter technique. Another thing to consider ... which comes up in Chi's story is using Premack Principle (Or Grandma's rule: first you get your vegetables then you get your dessert) to shift your dog's emotional state around the teeter OR "teeter approximations". My first agility dog was TERRIFIED of noises and motion under her feet. She is still a very sound sensitive dog. I helped her overcome her worries about a lot of things by pairing things that concerned her with experiences she loved. In my expeirience, food will often backfire when it comes to premack, you are looking for rewards that bring excitment/arousal UP. I believe the example with Chi was running over the teeter to get to the all important woods walk. I did a similar thing with Nell - release out the door to run with her pal by running OVER a small tippy board (small tip). I gradually built this up and ended up with a half decent teeter. Here's another example of Premack. I have a dog who is a very sensitive guy and who is not overly interested in working LOL. I was really trying hard (in hindsight too hard but thats another story) to build his "drive/motivation" to train. I stepped back and had a think of where/when I saw the level of excitement I wanted to bring to training. After swmming in the lake, this dog would run FULL tilt with his friend back to the car - playing and going gangbusters ... hmmm. I let the dogs swim and popped him on a leash to get back to the car. Got home (2min drive), put his friend away and trained. PERFECT - it instantly shifted how he viewed agility training at home. Premack is pretty fascinating. You can get very fast results with it WHEN you find that just right thing to pair with a somewhat intemidating task. Watch your dog and have a think about what you can use to shift her emotional state

Yes very true Catherine, we used Premack Principle when training Po to weave. She got the concept of weaves but was lacking speed. Her favorite thing in the world was to herd Flow when Flow was chasing a ball. So we would restrain Flow at the end of the weaves, and as soon as Po finished the last gap we would release Flow and throw a ball so Po could herd her.

Her weaves are now so fast that she whines through them with excitement :D

When Premack Works - the results are GORGEOUS ... but it certainly isnt always the right "answer" :) Cool on Po's weaves!

Our mission is to give a happy life to dogs by helping people become amazing dog owners. We are passionate about increasing the mutual understanding between the dog and the owner, making a life together more enjoyable for both.