Dog Agility Series – Find the Tunnel!
Dog agility is a sport where you direct your dog through a pre-set obstacle course within a certain time limit. Courses typically have between 14-20 obstacles, which can include tunnels, weave poles, tire jumps, seesaws, and pause tables where the dog must stop for a set amount of time. The Team with the fastest time and no-fault will be the Winner.
Dog Agility Tunnels you have the Pipe Tunnel, Open Tunnel, and Collapsible Tunnel. The Pipe Tunnel is a long flexible tube that dogs run through. The diameter of the tunnel is 600-800mm, and the length when straight is around 3-7m. This tunnel is often flexed into different shapes, from straight to a complete 'U' shape, to an 'S' bend. Each Tunnel is made to order in the colour/colours of your choice.
Dog Training cannot separate from Physic. Look at the Newton Law of Motion. It can apply to all Dog Sports Discipline. However, before we discuss in the details, let have a look at the NEWTON LAWS OF MOTION.
Newton's First Law of Motion:
I. Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.
Newton's Third Law of Motion:
III. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Let’s focus back on the topic of today’s discussion, Agility Series – Find the Tunnel! What are the objective and the completion of the Tunnel Exercise?
Regardless of the type of Tunnel, the Objective is for the dog to find the entry into the tunnel, run through it, and out of the exit of the tunnel. What constitutes a refusal? Refusal in agility means when the handler has commanded or given a cue to the dog to take the tunnel; however, the dog refuses to go and take on the tunnel that’s a refusal. Where are the refusal lines? The Entry Line into the tunnel, if your dog gets into the tunnel and makes a u-turn inside the tunnel, as long, his nose did not pop out of the Entry Line that’s is not a refusal. And the other refusal line is the lines cutting across the entry of the tunnel. Should your dog run passed the refusal line and retreat towards the entry of the tunnel, it is considered a Refusal.
Thus, the Training Philosophy should include teaching your dog to find the entry of the tunnel, zoom or blast through the tunnel, and once exited, look out for the handler.
Have a look at Newton’s First Law of Motion, “Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.” Does this Newton’s First Law apply to Dog Agility or Tunnel Training?
In Dog Agility, the nature of your dog gravitate towards the handler is an unwavering truth. With this truth, we, the handler, can make use of the position and the gravitation of our dog going towards as a source of intelligent, where it will aid us in our positioning in the Course.
As per Newton’s First Law of Motion, every dog in motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to cause it to slow down or stop. If you want your dog to continue slamming into the tunnel, do not apply pull or push techniques to throw your dog’s path, causing it to slow down or to a complete stop.
As per Newton’s Second Law of Motion, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This principle will enable the handler to be careful what kind of external pressure are you applying to your pup in the tunnel. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
In this Tunnel training, as you line up for a clear zoom into the tunnel, if you pull off before your dog is committed to the tunnel, it will pull your dog out of the tunnel, thus resulting in a refusal.
How should we train a good tunnel exercise, here’s my recommendation?
Step 1 - Teach your dog to get into the tunnel and exit with a reward. You can hold your pup on one end of the tunnel and get his owner to call from the other end if he pushes in Mark and Treats for the good behaviour. Repeat this step till your dog gets into the tunnel and exit the tunnel expecting a reward. At any time where your pup refusal to get in, you can shorten the tunnel.
Step 2 - teach your pup a verbal and a physical cue for the tunnel. Place your pup at heel before the tunnel. In a single scope of action, say the Tunnel verbal cue, as you point toward the tunnel entry, when he gets in, Mark and Treat. You will need to builds on both sides of the tunnels; your pup can either on your left or right side, where he executes the tunnel commands at ease.
Step 3 - Build fun and good exit behaviour. This time, I switch around with food and toy rewards. However, it is dependent on your pup, and some pup is only good for food or toy reward. Building on both rewards, it will spice up training with you. First, I will put a feeding bowl at the exit of the tunnel about 3 feet. I want my pup to blast through at crazy speed for the food reward. I can play with moving my food bowl further away from the tunnel exit, or I place my pup further away from the entry of the tunnel. Here we are building drive and muscle memory.
Step 4 - Build some simple sequences for moving rewards. For a start, I will place a bar before and after the tunnel and the bowl about 3 feet away from the bar. The complete picture is my pup jumps the first bar before the tunnel and zoom into the entry of the tunnel, exit and jump over the second bar after the tunnel exit, before calming his reward. It can be on the bowl or a toss reward. Tosses reward build and heighten the fun and bond of the team. I would prefer it if you can build up to a tossing reward after the final obstacles.
Step 5 - Teaching the send distance or lateral distance. This skill is important as we process through our Agility career. Having the Send and Lateral Distance Skills, I can direct my pup to the entry of the tunnel at a distance. That’s what I call finding the tunnel. First, I will work on a lead-out exercise into the tunnel. As the behaviour gets stronger, I will be moving back towards the first obstacle. Aiming to drive my pup with a send distance skills for him to seek out the tunnel entry at any possible tunnel sequence.
Please give it a try and let me know if this finds the tunnel series helps in your dog agility training.