Posted Date: June 28, 2012
If you are stuck inside because of the summer heat or rain, try these tips for living room training.
Winter isn't the only time of year that agility competitors might be stuck inside, unable to train on agility equipment. USDAA agility competitors have offered some ideas to keep you busy when hot or rainy weather interferes with your training session:
"Crate Games [a DVD of various crate-related exercises] by Susan Garrett can be used to work on impulse control, stays, sends, and building excitment for playing with handler. Work on core strengthening and rear end awareness exercises can be done without much room (Get on the Ball exercises, teaching back-up, and so on). Do some trick training (great for engaging your dog while waiting to go in the ring)."
"Peanut, Fit Paws, or other core balance work!"
[Editor's note: Some Fit Paws products can be seen at http://wizofpaws.net/exerciseequipment.aspx.]
"I have a room with a thick carpet and I bring one jump in a work on that. I also do lots of balance work with my Fit Paws stuff! Teaching new tricks is another idea too!"
"Conditioning training is great for indoor work. I use a combination of discs, peanut, and ladders in the living room for proprioception, strength, and conditioning."
"I work at night, but inside I'm teaching mine how to walk in a backwards circle. I saw a youtube video that this can be a first step towards teaching them to weave through your legs backwards. [My dog] needs hind-end awareness. We're fairly new to agility, but he's picking things up quickly. This is a fun trick that I think will help with his body awareness and keep his mind challenged (which active dogs who are cooped up in the house need)."
"My rainy day tip is to practice tricks for core strength and balance, such as sit pretty, walk or hop on back feet, paws up on objects of various heights, slowly walk up and down stairs, roll over, say your prayers, and figure 8 around legs."
"In addition to one jump exercises with my older dogs, I'm teaching my puppy two on/two off [a contact zone behavior where a dog stops with two feet on the contact obstacle and two feet on the ground] on a plank and practicing pause table automatic down on an ottoman."
"My dog Lullaby and I used to do agility inside all the time! We just recently moved out of a third floor apartment. We would set up six weave poles, a small teeter, and two mini jumps inside. When jumping on carpet, we always would set the jumps really low. "
"Refresh one jump work, wraps, rear crosses, sends."
"I have done 2x2s [sets of two weave poles used for training] in the house as well as plank work, wobble board, and fitness stuff. Saw a photo once where some used plungers on a tile floor to work weaves."
"We train entrances using 2x2s and do lots of fun crate games. Rain is also time to learn new tricks and haul out the puzzles. My four Border Collies learn a lot of great core skill: sit, stay, and lots of control as they line up and wait their turn to get to the puzzle."
"Last night, I watched Stacy Peardot-Goudy's old DVD on serpentines and threadles. The intro section is a great summation of her 'come to hand' training. I did this when my dog was just a pup, but was thinking it would be very good to review this again with him - simple, basic, but never hurts to review!
The other thing I think is critical when dogs aren't out and about much is strengthening and conditioning. Some must be done outdoors (swimming comes to mind!), but Chris Zink and Debbie Gross Saunders both have DVDs for these activities.
I don't think dogs 'forget' agility performance skills very readily, so while these ideas may not improve their performance skills, they certainly will help!"
"I have a large enough area to work on learning weaves with my youngest and round-the-clock entries with the proficient weavers."
"I work on directional cues and distance by sending my dogs out and around a chair. I can also set up two chairs next to each other (imitating panels of a jump) and send my dog through the middle as I gradually increase my distance from the 'jump'."
Tryssa de Ruyter
"I do what I call 'handling at home.' Walk around the house with your dog, doing crosses as you move through rooms and up and down stairways. It's good for 'putting cookies in the bank' by rewarding your dog for coming to the correct hand after the cross. I try to do this in daily life when putting dogs in the car, going outside/inside, etc. Controlling my dogs' movements as we go about our day makes front/rear/blind crosses more natural on the course."
"How about nose games, scent discrimination, trick training, 'doodling' exercises (get it in, back, stationary right and left turns, etc.) teaching directionals, and teaching get out, go on using a target. Also, toot touch to a target, jump over leg, arm or through arms, weave through legs, and so on. I think all training helps with agility."
Have a tip on how to train indoors when the weather won't let you go outside to play? Please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and you might see it in a future article here on USDAA.com! Thanks!