For owners interested in agility, there is any number of obstacles that your dog must learn to be able to partake in serious competition. Most agility courses have a set of regulation equipment that every dog, regardless of size, will need to know back and forth in order to succeed. However, some of this equipment can be daunting for a timid dog or one that is easily dwarfed by most of the obstacles and, while competitions will adjust things for size, a dog’s fear of an obstacle can easily mean disqualification.
The trickiest of the agility obstacles is the seesaw, or teeter-totter, which is a tilting platform that a dog must ascend upwards, find his pivot point, tip the seesaw, and then exit the bottom of the other end. There are a lot of intimidating components to the seesaw, including the movement, the tricky balance, and the noise that it can make. All of this can present some difficulty, but learning the seesaw is not impossible, even for a fearful dog.
Learning the seesaw can be done in a variety of ways, depending on the type of dog you have. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that regardless of his experience level, your dog will be much more likely to succeed if given time and patience and the ability to take things slowly. Rushing or forcing your dog to perfect the seesaw will likely only yield poor results, or worse, a larger fear of the equipment itself.
While the seesaw can be tricky, it’s crucial for your dog to be familiar with the obstacle and know how to properly navigate it, as it will almost always make an appearance on any professional agility course. A refusal to go onto the seesaw or an avoidance of it entirely will likely mean deducted points or an elimination from a competition, so it’s better to get your dog used to it sooner rather than later. If possible, start training in the puppy months, as it’s easier to adjust to new things when your dog is younger. However, you can still train an older dog to manage as well, but expect to tack on a few extra weeks to your training.
To begin with, you’ll need access to a seesaw that is safe for your dog to use. Most local agility clubs will have one available, or you can purchase one yourself. Be cautious if ever trying to build one yourself, as it must be safe for your dog to walk on and operate. Regulation agility seesaws should be 12 inches wide and 12 feet long, with the center point being 24 inches above the ground.
As with any agility training, you’ll want to get together some yummy treats to reward your dog for good behavior and a leash, if desired, to keep him nearby and focused. A toy can also be used as a reward at the very end of your training session to keep it fun and less stressful for your dog.