During competitions, your dog must enter a rigid opening, approximately 24 inches in diameter and 30 inches in depth, often a barrel with a lacking lid ring or a decorative “doghouse.” Whatever the composition of the open end, the closed tunnel (sometimes called a collapsed tunnel or chute tunnel) gets its name from a long cylindrical chute of fabric that has been firmly attached to the rigid opening. The chute, which is about 10 feet long and made of rip-stock nylon or pack cloth, is secured to the rigid portion of the closed tunnel. It lies closed on the ground, and the dog is required to burrow through to the exit.
Problems with the safety of closed tunnels are not uncommon. As you’re training your dog for the closed tunnel, make a game of throwing things over your dog, anything from sheets and blankets to tarps and bags. In the spirit of play, teach your dog that a sudden brief entrapment is just a game, one that pays very well.
Closed Tunnel Progression:
Step 1: The chute should be folded back on itself to a length of 4 to 6 feet. The assistant holds your dog while you kneel at the exit. Hold the chute open and entice your dog through. Reward him.
Step 2: The chute should be folded to about 6 feet. Let the middle of the chute drape halfway to the ground before calling your dog. Once your dog is running through the closed tunnel, lower the fabric onto his back as he nears the exit.
Step 3: Lengthen the chute to full length or slightly folded back (8 to 10 feet). Stand at the exit and hold the end open. Call your dog and rest the fabric on his back as he comes through the chute. Begin dropping more fabric on his back and drop it sooner and sooner until the chute rests closed on the ground.
Step 4: The chute should be folded back to about 6 feet in length and lie closed. Send your dog, introducing a signal. Click as your dog’s nose exits the chute. Add a pick-up and click finger touch instead of the exit.
Step 5: Use the full length of the chute lying closed and send your dog. Play catch-up games and throw toys to keep him running. Add in clicker pick-up games.
Step 6: Using the full length of the chute, run with your dog, introducing angled approaches, wet fabric, wind interference, etc.
Excerpt from the book Enjoying Dog Agility by Julie Daniels with permission from its publisher, Kennel Club Books, an imprint of BowTie Press. Purchase Enjoying Dog Agility here.