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Running through a tunnel for a dog is one of the first challenges for agility training. Dogs who go through agility training can also go through agility competitions. Some show dogs will need to be able to run through tunnels. Dogs who learn to hunt can also benefit from being trained to run through tunnels. Running through a tunnel for a dog can be quite challenging because they're not sure what's inside and what benefit the tunnel has for them. But you can easily teach your dog to run through a tunnel with a little bit of time and patience. Dogs who have agility training and can burrow and run through simple tunnels all the way to advanced tunnels can be trained to do other things as well. This is a fun trick to do with your dog, especially if you plan on furthering his training and agility.
Training your dog to run through a tunnel simply starts with trust. Your dog needs to trust that what's inside the tunnel it's going to be safe for him. To develop this trust, you may need a partner to help so one of you is on one end of the tunnel and someone is on the other end of the tunnel. Special treats, as well as toys, to put in the tunnel may also further this training along a little faster. You can teach any dog to run through a tunnel, however, the younger the dog is the easier agility training is as well. Tunnel running is typically done with smaller dogs rather than large breeds, however, large breeds also may need to get through tunnels as long as they are the proper size.
Training your dog to run through a tunnel is going to require patience and repetition. Set some time aside each day to practice this trick so your dog does not forget the commands and his expectations as he runs through tunnels. High-value treats at the other end of the tunnel will help your dog get all the way through. Obviously, you will need a tunnel. A child's play tunnel will work just fine as long as your dog fits inside. You can find agility dog tunnels for training purposes--find something easy that your dog will fit into that you can change the size and shape of as your challenges increase.
The Straight Tunnel Method
Create a short tunnel and have a partner hold your dog with someone else at one end while you sit at the other end of the tunnel.
Through the tunnel, make eye contact with your dog. Once he recognizes you, call his name. You may need to tap on the ground or the bottom of the tunnel to get him to understand that he can safely move through.
Once your dog has gone through the tunnel, give him a treat once he reaches you at the other side.
As your dog gets used to walking through a tunnel, increase the length of the tunnel and the distance between you and your dog. Repeat the steps above and be sure to treat your dog once he meets you on the opposite side.
Add challenges to your tunnels by making the tunnels curved. This will be challenging for your dog because he will not be able to see you at the other end. He will be able to hear you, however, so repeat the steps above calling him to you and encouraging him to go through the tunnel.
Continue to practice the steps above, training your dog to go through any length of tunnel with multiple curves and challenges. Be sure to reward him when he gets to the other side.
The Agility Command Method
Set up tunnel
Set up a short tunnel for your dog to go through. Walk around the tunnel with your dog on a leash, letting him sniff it and get to know it.
With a partner on one end of the tunnel and you on the other end, encourage your dog to go through by calling him.
Give this action a name by giving your dog a command such as 'go through' or 'tunnel.'
From the other side of the tunnel, use your command 'go through' or 'tunnel' while calling your dog.
Extend the length of the tunnel and challenge your dog to go through again. Be sure to reward him every time he gets to the opposite side.
Continue to practice these steps until your dog can walk up to a tunnel on go through on his own without having you at one end coaxing him through. Always reward your dog when he comes out of the tunnel.
The Toys and Treats Method
Introduce your dog to the tunnel by allowing him to walk around it and sniff. Place a treat just inside the entrance of the tunnel let him sniff it and reward himself with the treat.
Roll a ball
With your dog at one end of the tunnel with you, roll a ball through the tunnel encouraging him to go in after it.
You can place a treat just inside the tunnel to encourage your dog to go get the ball.
If your dog knows 'fetch' or 'go get it,' you can use these commands to encourage your dog to go through the tunnel. You can also add the word 'tunnel' to this command so he associates a word with the actual tunnel he is to walk through.
If your dog does not chase the ball, toss treats down the tunnel and get excited with your encouragement to go get them.
Once your dog goes through the tunnel the first time, he should be able to continue going through but without the encouragement of many treats. At some point, tossing the ball will be enough to get him to want to head into the tunnel. Keep practicing, even once your dog gets the process.
Create challenges by increasing the length of the tunnel and then making it more difficult by adding curves or slopes.
By Stephanie Plummer
Published: 10/26/2017, edited: 01/08/2021
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