Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Teeter Rehab - Maddie

Just when I was getting Maddie all figured out, she developed a problem with the teeter.  I had a feeling we were on the verge of it since late last year.  I had done some extra work to head it off, but then she encountered a couple of bad teeters early this year.
At the Invitational in December, the event is held on turf instead of dirt.  The teeter boards also have rubber bumpers on each end (probably to prevent damage to the floor).  Maddie did the teeter and when the landing end bounced, she got off of it quickly, the board scraped her leg, and she limped out of the ring.  She refused the teeter the next time in the ring so we left early.
We had some issues at the January trial, but were able to get through it and even double qualified twice. Then in February, Maddie got off of a shaky teeter too fast again, scared herself, and then refused it the next day. So Teeter Rehab began.
Maddie has never been great with wobble boards or movement under her feet.  In hindsight, it is not something I should have neglected. We worked hard on the wobble board when she was a puppy, but I had not maintained her confidence on it as an adult. She was very hesitant to put all 4 feet on it. But with lots of good treats and practice, Maddie will now put all four feet on the wobble board, move around on it, and rock it back and forth. And I will be sure to maintain it this time!
We also took 6 weeks off from agility trials to practice a variety of teeters.  I also made my own teeter unpredictable.  Sometimes it landed on a bouncy balance disc. Other times it landed on a brick so it made a louder noise.  I taped a rattle can to the underside so it was just noisier overall.
And most importantly, I made it unstable by putting a small chunk of concrete under the base so it was off center and would move from side to side when she got on it.  I would move the concrete to different places so the teeter would move a little differently each time.
This strategy worked great! We worked on going to the teeter at speed and also with no momentum.  I would walk her right up to the teeter and then let go so she would have to power through it starting from a standstill.  I also added the cue "hit it" so I would have something encouraging to say to her.
Once I felt we were ready to return to the ring, I started pairing practice matches and trials.  I was lucky that three upcoming trials were also hosting an evening match.  So I would give Maddie some extra teeter practice and then trial the next day.  This worked great and she even Double Qualified two out of the three times.