Phase 1: Plank proficiency
Step 1: Basic Plank Proficiency
This video illustrates the basic maneuvers that we want the dog to be comfortable performing on a plank: getting on and off the sides, moving through all 3 positions in any order sit/stand/lie down, and if their body size permits, turning around on the plank, and even sitting or lying down sideways on it. This is all part of the confidence building in preparation for step 2 of plank proficiency. Dogs who want to run along the plank are not necessarily happy being on it - don’t skip this step!
Step 2: Run on Plank
This video illustrates the process I use to help my dog be comfortable just running as fast as she can go on a plank. I don’t ask for any specific behavior, but I do use hoops to create a visual reference that is different than what the actual obstacle will look like when I want a stopped behavior.
Plank Proficiency involves several kinds of activities. The first is just comfort getting on and off the board and maneuvering on it as well. The second activity is very specific - run as fast as you can! The third activity is getting the dog comfortable with movement of a board underneath them. And finally, the last is working on making the board “bang” - a precursor to the teeter. Make sure to keep revisiting all 4 steps to ensure the foundation is strong, especially after you start introducing a moving and noisy board!
Step 3: Wobble Board
This video illustrates the process I use to help my dog be comfortable with movement of a board underneath them.
The key to this process is helping your dog to understand that they control the movement. Teeters tip at different speeds, different points, and bounce differently so the dog needs a great deal of confidence to navigate something that usually behaves one way (the teeter at home or class) but sometimes behaves differently.
This is also a great time to investigate your dog’s sound sensitivity. If they are at all concerned about the noise that is made when the board moves - now is the time to desensitize them to it and make that as enjoyable as a “click”.
Step 4: Bang the Board
This video illustrates the next step after your dog is comfortable with the wobble board. The setup requires a board that is up off the ground 6 inches to a foot. If you have a teeter with an adjustable base - setting it up at a very low height will work. If you do not, you can prop up the entry side so it is suspended above the ground a bit. You can even work this with a regular board propped up on bricks - although make sure that the board does not swivel side to side.
I try to ensure my dog comes up the side of the board so that there is no chance their toes can become pinched under the board as it hits the ground and I try to work as close as possible to the end of the board - you’ll see why when we move to Phase 2 of the teeter training.