By Sophia Yin, DVM, MS September 11, 2009
It was 100• F here today but that didn’t stop us from going to our foundations agility class. Or as I call it “Jonesy time.” Here’s Jonesy on the teeter. Over two years ago when he was 10 months of age and had been lliving with me for several months, I took several private lessons from a really good trainer, Cathy Leggett. Then I decided, Jonesy had more pressing behavioral issues and stopped agility until recently. We’re taking a weekly class now even though Jonesy knows a lot of the exercises already. I’m basically too lazy to practice unless we’re taking weekly classes. And Jonesy has a blast anyway.
Here Jonesy is working on the teeter. Several years ago we worked through the Susan Garrett teeter protocol in a week. This was a big accomplishment for Jonesy because he’s afraid of loud falling things and crashing sounds. This is his second class on the teeter since learning it several years ago. No need to rush and get him to where he was before. Here I’m using the MannersMinder (which I invented—originally with the Sharper Image but now available through Premier Pet) to reward him when he gets to the end. Once he’s on the end I reward with several treats (his kibble) so he really likes the position. When I last trained him I also used a makeshift teeter with a 4 foot board on a fulcrum. Once he’d been rewarded for standing on the teeter end I moved the MannersMinder further away and repeated the same procedure. Because he’d done the wobble board and received rewards from the MannersMinder for this, it was easy for him to learn that even if the MannersMinder was far away, the reward was still for running to the end of the board and standing on it when it hit the ground. Plus once he was rewarded a lot he could easily do this without a MannersMinder present. It’s easy to fade the machine out. We won’t do 2-on -2-off for the teeter because it makes his hind end go flying up.