Keep Your Cheese Off the Teeter

Doesn’t sound like a life philosophy, does it?

Well, surprise!

Here’s the thing.  In agility, there are contact obstacles (A-Frame, Dogwalk, Teeter…).  And there are safety-oriented performance criteria for these obstacles:  The dog has to put at least one foot in the yellow section.  The teeter must hit the ground before the dog departs it.


Here’s the other thing:  Lots and lots of dogs love to leap from the top of the A-Frame, the teeter in mid-air, the dogwalk from some point that’s excruciatingly close to the yellow but not actually in it.

So we have lots of training methods to teach the dog to run into the yellow.  Touch pads, stride regulators, targets, and cookies and….

I don’t treat my dogs on the contacts.  They’re Beagles.  Do I need to encourage them to turn the dog walk into a slow sniffing exercise?  No, I do not.  I taught them to crawl, which is a diagonal movement and prepares them to collect on the downslope while avoiding the cantering gait (lateral gait) that makes LEAPING so inviting.  (I don’t know anyone else who does this.  I’m sure people are pointing and laughing at this blog).

On the teeter the boys have different behaviors suited to their personalities, but really, that’s not the point.  There are so many ways to train these criteria, and different ways suit different dogs.  That makes no one way THE RIGHT way.

BUT.  If your way is to use a treat at the end of a contact, and you do that by squeezing fake liquid cheese (yum) onto the end of the obstacle at a training yard that many dogs use, then IT IS THE WRONG WAY.

Because what do you think happens to my dog when he encounters your cheese molecules?  Yes, thank you very much.  It untrains him at the same time that it gives him exactly the idea I don’t want him to have: that obstacles should not be performed, they should be inspected for food.

Recently Dart Beagle ended up in a cartwheel because his front end found leftover cheese while his back end was still performing the obstacle.  Thank you, no.  Do Not Want.

Still waiting for the life philosophy part?  Here’s another way to put it, much older and maybe somewhat hokey these days–it’s called the Golden Rule.

(Do you know, I grew up with a school ruler that actually had the Golden Rule burned into the back.  I loved that ruler!  It was Sturdy.)

Do unto others, people.  Yea, verily, as you would have done unto you.

Or am I a dinosaur?

PS there will be no photos of cartwheels, as I will make sure it never happens again!  But here is a moment of Belle about to tell Dart Beagle that he’d better sit still for a face-cleaning.  This time I did not fix her evil blue flash eye!



About Doranna

My books are SF/F, mystery, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense. My dogs are Beagles, my home is the Southwest, and the horse wants a cookie!
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7 Responses to Keep Your Cheese Off the Teeter

  1. Patty says:

    Thanks for the face washing pic! I had no idea that cheese was such a treat until I took the cat to the vet and they sprayed cheese whiz on the table top. The cat had a grand time licking it off!

    I personally love cheese, too.

  2. Patty says:

    but not cheese whiz so much

  3. Doranna says:

    Cheeeeeeese, Wallace!!

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I love the look in Belle’s eye, and also the way Dart’s tail and his posture seem to express “But my face didn’t really NEED…oh, but…can’t you…hurry?”

  5. Doranna says:

    It may not surprise you that the grooming turned into a short but explosive round of play. ;>

  6. SharonS says:

    I would think the owner of the equipment would have a cow if someone did that!! My husband and I use to compete in agility (before kids, sigh) I miss it. Any way I had a Rottie (nicknamed slug, cause….she was a little slow through the course ) but my husband had a Siberian Husky. Oh,yeah. Fantastic running dog until he got to a table, then his nose was drawn to it like a magnet, never to leave it until you said let’s go. I think he was sniffing dog butts (freaking dominant male dog). thanks for the post, brought back lots of memories. One day (when kids are gone ) I will get my Standard Poodle (empty nest dream dog) and get back into the fun!
    (my Rottie ran flawlessly, but once we got to excellence she disqualified on time faults every time! one day she qualified by one second and the whole place cheered – they all knew us well -it was the only leg she got towards the excellence title . She eventually ended up tearing an ACL playing with that awful Si 😉

    • Doranna says:

      Sharon, I’ve seen some lovely Rotties running agility in these here parts. And Standards are so pretty when they run–they just float! You made me LOL with that table remark, though…

      Avoiding ACL problems is why Connery had the prolotherapy and is on such extensive rehab. :/ Vet says the injuries were just as likely initiated in play, and I figure it was the tennie ball, which will happen nevermore no matter how much the dogs adore it. I was always careful to toss grounders, but there was still a lot of swapping ends going on.

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