Pause Table

Topics: Contruction  |  Training  |  Sit versus Down  |  Trouble-Shooting

Sit versus Down

Can this be a problem? Yes. Not for everybody, but for many. The table seems to be an underestimated obstacle in AKC agility for folks coming from variations of the sport where the down is required i.e. - USDAA, NADAC, ASCA, and AAC. (Note all of the following does NOT apply to dog/handler teams coming to AKC from UKC agility.) Sit vs. down is part of the trouble. So is the height of the table and the fact that refusals are faulted at all levels under AKC rules.

Handlers with obedience trained dogs fail to practice adequately, assuming they'll be able to get a fast sit on the table in the heat of competition. You'll see some pretty surprised handlers in the ring as they beg their dog to sit, not down, and the seconds tick away.

Occasionally handlers will have practiced a sit on the table exclusively in the week or so before an AKC trial, and then are surprised when their dog is reluctant to go down when *that* is asked for.

Many dogs view the down as a submissive posture, especially if they are at eye level with the handler when sitting. Dogs and handlers who have not yet worked out who is "leading the dance" during an agility run are more likely to have trouble with a down than a sit.

For most dogs, AKC tables are at a lower height than they encounter in the other flavors of agility (again, except UKC). This means the dog who is approaching at speed is more likely to misjudge and skid off the table earning a 2 point fault. Large dogs are probably more vulnerable to this mistake due to greater mass and fewer steps across the table top. Again handlers new to AKC often fail to allow for this.

Many handlers are not used to having to worry about refusals at the table until they are in the AKC Novice class (or USDAA and AAC Masters). Teamwork and timing are key to avoiding a handler induced refusal AND getting the dog to perform the table quickly and correctly. Once more this can catch the handlers new to AKC agility by surprise.

Prepare carefully and thoroughly. Instead of having a command to get onto the table and then giving a position command, try teaching separate obstacle commands for jumping on the table and doing an automatic down versus jumping on the table and automatically sitting. Once trained, your dog should be able to do a fast correct performance with minimal confusion - as long as you give the correct command. This will preserve the fast, automatic down on the table that you need (and may already have) for a competitive performance in the other flavors of agility.
(Sally Sheridan)


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