Dog Walk

Topics: Contruction  |  Training  |  Trouble-Shooting


Asking a dog to do an obstacle it's afraid of is hard work for the dog, emotionally and physically. So the "paycheck" has to be increased to a level comparable to the amount of fear the dog has to overcome. Large amount of fear = large "paycheck". The Payment should come for this dog at the top of the up ramp. But for dogs this fearful, asking them to stop on or near the "scary" part is not recommended. So use your 30" table and carefully prop one of the dogwalk ramps on it. Now you can practice upside Dogwalk ramps and "pay" the dog at the top on the table, in complete safety. After a while add the second ramp to the other side of the table and you have a modified dog walk with a "pay station" in the middle. Gradually reduce payment in the middle and move it to the end after Dogwalk completion.

What types of "payment" should you we use? Whatever it takes to help the dog get over its fear. Maybe a large jackpot like a half a chicken breast for the first success. Then gradually reduce the amount. The dog will let you know when the pay gets too small. Fear of the seesaw can be handled in similar fashion.
(Donna Anderson)

A dog that continually bails off the dogwalk just before the apex of the up ramp has a classic problem. If your dog is stopping near the apex and not near the middle, he might just have trouble with the height.

Getting up and over the apex is like our climbing a ladder to a narrow scaffold. Even on hands and knees, the junction of up ramp with cross ramp is a sticky spot if you're afraid of the height. Large and tall dogs such as a standard poodle have a high center of gravity and a narrow base of support that accentuates that problem.

If it's only the height, the problem fixes easily through shaping height separately. Lots of people have a 2' dogwalk and a 4', and that contrast is quite extreme at the apex. If you don't have access to an adjustable dogwalk that can go from 2' to 2'6" to 3' to 3'6", brace an 8' plank (not 12') against a sturdy 30" pause table as an intermediate step. That lets the dog practice the "up and over" sensation at some steepness while offering a landing pad. Also, some 2' dogwalk bases are narrow enough to be placed on sturdy pause tables set at 8" or 12". That can simulate intermediate dogwalk heights, too.

Do your remedial bailout program on low stuff. It's for dogs with a generalized problem. If the dog's problem is height and it has not yet generalized to the entire obstacle, it is quite shapeable by working on that height element separately.

However, if this confidence issue is not addressed, you can expect it to come back to haunt the dog later. Better to shape the elements of difficulty and get lots of cookies in the bank for each one. Otherwise, he might get over it, but on the other hand, he might fall or bail out at 4'. Too risky. The dog shouldn't be up that high until he says he is ready.

(Julie Daniels)

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