Why Working on a Table can Help Your Obedience
I have to admit, if you have had anything to do with protection sports and read this… you are as worried as I once was.
In protection sports, a “table” is used for nasty and negative things.
I remember going to a trainer with a 6 month old puppy who wanted to agitate her on a table… I walked away.
This kind of training when you are talking protection or bite work sports is very negative and pushes a dog into “flight”.
So I have always had a negative connotation with “table work”.
Recently, while helping my students in my classes with “changes of position” I realized a table doesn’t have to be used in a negative way!
Isn’t that the truth!
Most things, even a buckle collar, can be used in a harmful way!
And, I trust myself not to be abusive!
So I started having my clients use an agility “pause” table.
No tying them down or taking options away!
They were just to help their dogs understand changes of position.
Changes of position are important in higher level obedience.
You must tell your dog when to sit, down or stand from a distance!
As easy as this might sound to some… it isn’t! especially when you try to put it into practice.
Most dogs will try and take a few steps in your direction first.
Which, in competition means points off or no points!
Plus, taking a few steps; means you can argue that the dog was not preforming the command.
Either way; it is best to teach the command without the extra steps.
A table takes some of the options away!
It can even help a dog lean the “stay” command.
Sometimes, training is all about conditioning.
If I am trying to get my dog to do something; it is all about trying to get him to do it right…time, after time, after time.
It’s not just for your hair ha ha.
Conditioning is the best way to approach behavior and make sure that it is reliable.
If you want to potty train your dog?
Make sure he doesn’t have an accident for days, weeks, months.
Following your dog around, getting him outside, and making sure he doesn’t have an accident “conditions” him to make good choices and stop having accidents.
The table encourages a dog not to take several steps toward you as they preform changes of position.
After all, how often when you are working at giving your dog a command from a distance does he take a few steps toward you?
This is NORMAL.
I mean, where do we tend to work our dogs?
We usually work on training in the specific area around us, not from 6 feet or more away!
So there are two ways I help my dog.
I tether my dogs to a tree or a pole and then lead them out the end of the leash and then ask them to sit, down, or stand.
Even if they try to take a few steps they simply can’t.
It teaches or conditions them that they don’t have to take steps or be near you in order to comply to your commands.
Although sometimes you have to slowly increase the distance (meaning not all dogs can function with obeying obedience commands from 6 feet away).
A table can also help your dog understand without taking the option totally away.
Now, I am not talking about a high table, that isn’t fair and isn’t safe.
I am talking about a table that is a foot or two off of the ground; like the agility pause table.
Some people use a “place board” and I use those too occasionally, I really think using different equipment can be helpful.
So if you are looking for help with some more advanced obedience, looking into integrating a table, it can be a simple way to help your dog learn.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.