Tunnel vision

Remember this photo?

Taken in March, suffice it to say teaching Elliot and Edie the tunnel has not been easy! Eventually I realized I needed to teach the tunnel to one dog at a time, to prevent my own discouragement. I purchased a 6 foot kids tunnel, and with string shortened it enough so Edie would have to walk through it rather than jump through it like a hoop. I didn’t measure it, but it must have been about 16 inches long. Each morning Edie and I would go to the basement training area, her breakfast in tow. Sure it was luring; my shaping skills stink. For weeks I set her breakfast on one end of the tunnel. If she came around the outside, I picked breakfast up. She’d go into the tunnel, stretching, stretching for breakfast. Each time I would move the food bowl a little further away. No matter, she’d grab a bite and back out of the tunnel. Again and again. Day after day. Week after week. And then one morning she did it! I was so excited! Party! She looked at me as if to say, “oh, this is what you’ve been trying to teach me?” And promptly went back through the tunnel the other way. I kept it at that length for several days, extending it little by little after that until she’d go through the entire 6 foot tunnel.

Then I started the same procedure with Elliot. I did substitute treats for breakfast. He would do the same thing as Edie – enter the tunnel, snatch the treat and back out of the tunnel. Week after week. Elliot has an interesting learning style. He will circle and approach an obstacle, circle and approach closer. This can go on four or five times and then, as if he’s mustered courage, he gives the obstacle a go, usually with success. I’ve learned it’s best not to talk to him much while he’s working on the puzzle. It seems to distract his thought process. I decided to set up a sequence with a jump and then the tunnel, hoping it would help him understand the tunnel is simply another obstacle to puzzle out. It worked! Yes, at first he’d circle several times before entering the tunnel, but he’d do it. And come out the other end. Awesome! Elliot!

Time to extend the tunnel. And Edie needed a longer tunnel.

From Jeffers Dog Supply I found a 16 foot tunnel and a chute tunnel:

Arriving Thursday, excitedly I opened the box. Bonus, both come with a handy carrying bag. Looking at the 16 foot tunnel, contemplating how on earth it could be corralled into a shorter length given the springwork skeleton, I decided to give Edie a try with the entire length. But first, a little refresher with the six foot tunnel. It had been several weeks since she’d done the tunnel because it was, once again, shortened for Elliot. (It’s a pain-in-the-a$$ to shorten those tunnels!) Edie went through it with gusto. I put a bend in the tunnel. Again, through it with pizazz. With  not enough room in the basement, moving furniture, I set up the 16 foot tunnel in the house. She went in several feet right away and then backed out. With encouragement, she then went through the entire thing! Yippee!! And again. And again. Rick then pointed out maybe she’d like a treat. Gee. Duh! Then we made it a game, like the puppy recall game. Rick was at one end of the tunnel with treats. I was at the other end with treats. In and out. Back and forth. It was fun! Probably helped that Vincent and Ely were looking on wondering how they could get in on the treat action. After months of slowly working the tunnel, it was hard for me to stop the session, but I managed to do it while she was still willing to play.

With the chute part of the chute tunnel corralled, yesterday I used that tunnel for Elliot. It’s about twice the length as the tunnel he’d been working. He circled once – after all it did look a bit different – and in he went. And back through and over the jump. Back and forth again. And we stopped. Elliot! You are so awesome! This morning I’ve set up two jumps sorta pinwheel style before the tunnel. If it throws him off, I’ll back it up. Somehow I’m betting he’ll hardly miss a beat.

Patience. Agility with Lhasa Apsos provides plenty of opportunity to practice patience. And baby steps. And enjoying the journey rather than focusing on the destination.



3 Comments on “Tunnel vision”

  1. Kathy says:

    Go Team Apso! Your words paint such a great visual! Next time have Rick make a little movie of Agility with Apsos!

  2. Lori Asbury says:

    Hey Debby,

    I couldn’t be more proud of you and then kids. You have been so patient and haven’t given up and it has paid off. What’s it been, a year since we tried to get Elliott to do the tunnel in puppy class? He and Edie are so interesting because then once they get it, they have a graet time with doing agility. You guys have taught me some new lessons and I’m excited to have you as students and friends.

  3. Melissa says:

    Those darn tunnels are quite scary. Suds used to not even be in the same room as a tunnel and now….I think they may be his favorite obstacle. Patience, I never realized I had so much before I started training Lhasas in agility… but the rewards are so great! Keep up the good work!

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