Phase 2: teeter
The videos on this page illustrate a plan for assembling the foundation pieces perfected in phase 1 into fast, independent teeter performance with a stopped 2o2o position.
NOTE: I HAVE USED MANY DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES FOR TRAINING THE TEETER with dogs and I find that certain personalities of dogs respond differently to different techniques so it’s best to work with an experienced trainer to help you decide what approach will work best with your dog. Be sure to read the notes at the bottom of this page to give you some insights.
USING AN ADJUSTABLE TEETER BASE - LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT.
In the first video you will see that I use a table to set up the teeter to be angled downward toward the ground. The teeter board is already angled down when the dog jumps on the table and it drops a few inches to the ground.
When I first introduce running into position on the teeter - I love to have it set just this way, so the dog is running toward the ground and the teeter drops a few inches. I then adjust the base height a little bit and the board not only tips more, but starts out more level. I LOVE this approach and it works nicely for many, many dogs.
My advice if you have an adjustable base is use it to make many, small adjustments starting with a 24” table and a low pivot so that when you introduce the dog to running down the board, they are running toward the ground and it drops maybe 4-5 inches or so. Working slowly up to full height. Your dog is now good at running down a flat board and riding it down 24”.
Then when you lower the table, lower the pivot point again, this time, maybe so the board is flat to a 16” table - this should feel very comfortable for your dog as they can already solve this at 24” drop. Now as you slowly raise the pivot point up to full height you start to introduce an “up angle” to your dog. At full height pivot the dog has now learned to run to the end of a board that is up in the air, and also it drops farther to the ground.
Keep repeating this process as you see in the second video until you can remove the table entirely.
USING A NON-ADJUSTABLE BASE - DON’T LOVE IT
When I’m training Echo, you’ll see that I don’t have an adjustable teeter base and you can see how difficult it is for her to learn to wait until the teeter drops. It would be much easier for her to learn and a higher success rate, if I could start with a down angle and work up to a flat board.
If you don’t have an adjustable teeter base, consider building a robust training board that has a secured pivot to the board that is maybe 10 inches high to start with. BE cautious about leaning a long board over the top of something that it will pivot over as an alternative to a secure base. The shimmy of a tipping board over a log (for example) is a very unpredictable movement and can make many dogs less confident and secure not more. I can’t recommend it.
Phase 2-1T: Making the Position Meaningful
The first step in Phase 2 is to make the 2o2o position itself meaningful to your dog. There is no inherent reason they would stop there or work hard to get there unless it is meaningful.
The teeter creates different challenges for your dog because of the movement - and because of the difference in movement between teeters of different types.
When your dog is offering that position as part of games that you play, then you can assemble it with the confidence of running on a moving board and tolerance of the bang and vibration of the teeter.
Phase 2-2T Getting there, teeter
This video illustrates the training progression that I use with the teeter. I use a table to work the progression from running on a moving board that is tipped downward to a board that tips from flat to down, to a board that tips from up to down, to a full height teeter.
As we play teeter games, if I see any indication of hesitancy or concern - then I back up to where my dog is confident and play more games to isolate and make each aspect of the teeter fun.
Here is an example, lets say my dog is inclined exit the teeter when it bangs, I could prop something under the end so it never actually hits the ground and reward them for holding their 2o2o with the teeter a few inches above the ground. I could use a similar technique if my dog is inclined to stop 4 on and then step slowly in position by holding the teeter up a few inches and only letting it hit the ground after my dog is in their 2o2o. I could use a similar game if my dog is inclined to have their weight too much on their front end such that the teeter bounces their rear up in the air where I raise the teeter underneath them and reward them for pushing it back down with a sit on the end.
The approach I use is designed to build highly confident performance because here are some things your dog might be (or become) concerned about:
1) running full speed to the end of a board that is high in the air and appears to go nowhere.
2) movement and balancing on a board moving underneath them.
3) the noise of the teeter banging on the ground
4) the bounce or vibration associated with the bang.
common training issues
This video shows the finishing piece of the progression. In these steps, we remove the table as a visual aid for the dog and to set up the teeter for its full movement.
It also shows two common training issues:
1) where the dog doesn’t wait for the teeter to hit the ground and they come off the side
2) where the handler accidentally stops as the dog stops
You’ve already seen the other likely issue - the infamous “fly off” in the previous video.
We aren’t done training yet, we need to generalize this performance to many different teeters that move at different times and speeds.
And we have to practice lots of different body positions, hanging back, over shooting, recalling, sending, moving away laterally, handling at a distance etc.
We also have to work on the entries onto the teeter and put it into sequences.
Two other elements to consider that can affect your dogs teeter performance. Young dogs are very apt to go through a stage of confusion about identifying the dogwalk and teeter - often resulting in slower and more careful performance of one or the other (or both). Also, confusion about what releases them from their 2o2o can cause hesitancy and concern.