Abbey has just started in agility and we've had 2 classes so far. She's really good with the jumps and table so far, but she doesn't like the tunnels or chutes.
We've done the tunnels both times we've had class for a good amount of time, but she just doesn't want to go through them! If the instructor holds Abbey and I go to the end of the tunnel and look through it and she sees me, she does fine. But when we try to turn the tunnel to make it curved, she doesn't like it and reverses out every time. I've tried throwing treats in there to coax her in there and run to the other side to call her out, but she goes out the way she went in!
Also, we added a chute to one of the tunnels. If the instructor holds her and I go to the other end to pick up the chute so she can see me, she's fine. But she won't do it unless I hold up the other end... even after trying it 20+ times.
Any tips/advice to get her more accustomed to them? I plan on buying my own to practice eventually, but right now all I have are the jumps to practice at home.
Have you started w/ the tunnels scrunched up (= very short/straight)? Gradually lengthen, no curves at first--- just lots of daylight. Have someone target the end once she's committed. Not until she's doing a good straight or even slightly bent tunnel would I do a true chute, but at home, why not play w/ her under a blanket or sheet? That's what I do w/ my puppies and they all have loved chutes (they also have a tunnel in their puppy pen though too!). Just be patient. We're having issues w/ heavy teeters here, lol! I need my puppy teeter back that a friend ran over a few years ago! Wahhhh! Anne
I agree with Anne you are probably expecting too much too fast..if you have had only 2 classes I would not expect her to want to or be able to do a curve tunnel without a lot of prompting and holding..I would go back to a short straight tunnel until she is going through easily on her own..then slowly make it longer ..and wait until she is running through the long tunnel easily before starting to curve..and when you do curve just a slight bend at first..Personally we frown on throwing treats into the tunnel as it will make any dog that comes after you stop and sniff in the tunnel which you don't want..
2 classes and chutes and curved tunnels already - I agree with above and will add if you are thinking about trialling as opposed to pet play classes the slower you can go now with the more solid a foundation the better you will be in the long run.
You can make a tunnel more challenging without bending it (entries etc)
Until my dogs are FIRING through a short straight tunnel I don't lengthen it or bend it at all
Sally will gear up sitting looking at any tunnel at all ... I think I may have overlaid her tunnel drive
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” H. Keller
Foundation is very important in dog agility. Everytime I taught a beginning class everyone wanted to get started on the courses and obstacles. The tunnel was usually the first obstacle taught. However, using a very short tunnel and using it all compressed.
Couple of ideas:
1. Make sure that your body is supporting the tunnel. That your shoulders and feet are facing the tunnel.
2. Use a target plate for after the tunnel. Dog goes through tunnel dog gets delicious food on target plate. Dog does not go into tunnel delicious food is removed so that dog does not get reward.
3. Hold dogs collar. Get her revved up. Are you ready.... Hold her until she is pulling away from you trying to get to the obstacle. Then let her go. Restrained release. This increases motivation. Should be fun for the dog. Can be used with the target plate.
4. Pair the completion of an obstacle with a target word. I use "yes". If the dog completes the obstacle say "yes". I also use this with the beginning of some obstacles, such as the weave poles. This gives your dog the information that she is doing something right and she then knows to repeat that action.
5. Jackpot. When the dog does what you want pair a yes with a food jackpot. Dog in tunnel "yes", dog out of tunnel "yes" . Dog mom gives tons of little treats while telling the dog how brillant she is for at least 30 seconds. Good to use this while training and working with a dog while learning anything new.
6. Make sure you are not telegraphing your anxiety about the dog not "liking" the tunnel to your dog. I would make sure I was having fun. "Whoo hoo, Abbey now we get to do the tunnel. Fun!!!!!!"
7. When your dog goes into the tunnel or chute she is essentially blind. Make sure to call the dogs name to alert her to where you are. When my dogs are in either I call a shortened version of their names either "Mad, Mad, Mad" or "Pan, Pan, Pan".
You may want to purchase a tunnel for home. They do make clear ones to help dogs who are fearful of not being able to see. Also in my humble opinion your instructor is jumping the gun on training the chute. Training the chute is using the dogs knowledge of past tunnel training and mastery. To help get your dog used to the chute you can play games with her with a bed sheet or towel. The dog needs to get used to having the feeling of material on her and pushing through that feeling. The chute is a place where alot of fear can happen. The chute gets caught on the dog or the dog gets caught in the chute. If this happens or if any mishap happens I would reccomend using your happy voice and talking to your dog about how silly she is etc.
Maddie got caught in a chute that seperated from the barrel at an AKC trial. Dogs can break legs if they panic when this happens. I was not far from panic myself. I could not free her and the judge and several members of the ring crew came to help me. All the time I was telling her "you silly dog, are you hiding from me". "Maddie, you are so funny". Maddie came out with a smile on her face and completed the course flawlessly. She completed 12 weave poles after that chute and I was very proud of her. The judge let us come back after our run and have her run through the chute a few times. I always check the chute. In practice or competition.
Sorry, this turned out to be so long. Hope that agility training continues to go well for you and Abbey.
One thing that I find really helpful with dogs that don't like the tunnel is to run them with other dogs at the tunnel. We form a line and one by one run through the tunnel. As soon as the dog comes out, the next person goes. It really helps the dogs to see all the other dogs doing it and having a good time.
Also, I agree, you are expecting way to much too fast. Some dogs aren't naturals at this and it takes them a while to gain their confidence and trust. But it will come.
Thanks everyone for your advice. I agree and think that we might be moving a bit too fast in the class. What we did was all get in a line and then run through the short, straight tunnel a few times with our dogs, then she gradually turned it just a little bit after a few runs. Most of the other dogs did fine with it, but Abbey doesn't really seem to care for it.
I came early to the last class to and was throwing treats in there just to get her to go through it, which kind of worked, but still not so much.
I'm going to try to get her excited and hold her collar and then let her run.
Thanks again! We have class tomorrow so I'll be sure to update all of you.
Also, is she toy-driven? If so, I'd leave a favorite tug toy at the end of the tunnel and play with her when she gets through, it's all about building positive associations with the equipment early on. I'd be careful throwing treats into the tunnel, as you don't want her to get in the habit of sniffing around for goodies in there.
And I agree with the others, way too early for curvy tunnels, especially with a nervous dog. Peanut probably didn't do a curvy tunnel until we'd been in agility at LEAST a few weeks, and that was with her never showing any real aversion to the straight tunnel at all (one of the very few obstacles she wasn't ever scared of, LOL!) and we started with a very very slight curve and moved on from there.
And one last note, you know your dog best. If at any time the instructor suggests you try something that you think is too much for her at that time, feel free to say no. I've had to do the same thing (as Peanut is a nervous girl as well) and our instructor was very supportive and respectful. I usually just say something like, "I don't think she's ready for ______ yet, I'm going to stick with _______ for now."
Baloo - 5 year old black lab
Peanut - 7 year old minpin
Monster - 3-ish year old frenchie/jack, rescue
She's sometimes toy driven, but not always. I might bring one of her squeaky toys with me to class tonight to try, though.
Thanks for the suggestions, Kate. I think I'm going to have Abbey hold off on the curvy tunnels and chutes until she's ready.
I agree...it sounds like you're just going a litte too fast. If you're just looking to take a fun class, this might be ok, but if you hope to compete in the future, you really want to set a strong foundation which takes things quite a bit slower. I LOVE Janet as a trainer but she (as she'll admit) is a "pet" trainer. If you want to compete, you'll have to come over and play with us at capital city
I can get you over to some floor time at our building if you want...gimme a yell!
PS...don't throw food in the tunnels...other people using training on the equipment will hate you, lol.