Agility Fun on a Rainy Day

Ok, its raining outside again for the past five days. I want to train my young pup, but what can I do, I feel we're both stuck inside and bored.

Break out the pause table. Or keep one in your living room as a continuous fixture as we do. The pause table is a magical training box that brings out the best in sit stays, down stays, "Go" and "Come". Building your "Go Table": develop your distance from the table in small increments, send your dog to the table as you move further and further away from the table, wind your way into other rooms. Follow your dog to the table at a distance, always staying behind him.

Get a second table so that you have two pause tables that you can use at the same time. Start with the tables about 10 feet apart. Send your dog to one of the tables, "Go Table, practice sit stay, you move to the opposite side of the other table, call your dog to the table, "Come Table". Build distance by moving the tables apart and into other rooms.

Purchase a Contact Trainer. A Contact Trainer normally has one short A-frame side, possibly a pause table, and one short dogwalk plank You can set one up in a garage, basement, or livingroom (if your family permits). Contact Trainers are great for teaching or reinforcing your contact behavior. To teach the contact behavior, have your dog in a heel position, so that he is between you and the decline of the A-frame side. Hold the dog's leash close to the snap with your left hand, with a treat in your right hand,lure hm to "hup-up" on the A-frame, and hold him in place with two feet on the ground or floor and two feet on the yellow contact zone. Treat him while he is in the correct position then release him forward, then circle around and try again. Practice this until the dog is jumping up on the decline with physical guidance, and staying in the contact zone, even when you step away. Repeat this with the dog on your right side going down the A-frame, then start with the dogwalk plank. Repeating the same incremental steps. Have fun building distance with the contact trainer. Remember this is to develop and strenthen the contact behavior, later you will go outside to focus on plan navigation and speed.

Setup two chairs like a jump, but don't use a jump bar. Have your dog go between the two chairs like jump uprights. Practice with your dog at different angles to the chairs and different distances. Use four or more chairs and have your dog weave between them. You may need to start on leash until your dog gets the idea of weaving with the chairs.

Practice your directional commands around sofas or stuffed chairs. Starting with your dog on leash walk up to the end of the sofa, use your "Out" command, with the leash guide your dog away to one side of the sofa, while you walk on the other side. Make sure you work your dog on both of your sides, sending your dog "Out" from your left side and then "Out" from your right side. Practice with different pieces of furniture and at varies distances.

So, on the next rainy day, don't mope, get training indoors. Use your furniture to practice directional cues, hallways and rooms for distance work. Be prepared with some agility equipment that is always available for indoor use. A contact trainer for polishing your dog's contact behavior, a pause table for downs, sits, goes, and jump posts for sending or coming behaviors.

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