When a dog performs the pause table perfectly, it’s done in one smooth motion. By the time the dog is completely on the table, he has already assumed the correct position. It is unusual for a dog to learn the whole job at once. Many dogs feel resistant to what they view as an imposition in the context of running agility obstacles. A dog that is expected to put it all together too soon may become patterned for a slow and deliberate performance, which you want to avoid.
Competitors with large dogs will find that the taller table actually makes the job easier. Though we will always see an occasional dog of any size go sailing onto the table and off the opposite side (incurring a penalty in competition), this happens less often when the dog has to jump up as well as forward onto the pause table.
Pause Table Progression:
Step 1: Make your dog feel comfortable with the pause table. Introduce a high-energy release cue. Introduce a table command and begin to send your dog to the table.
Step 2: Introduce click-and-treat sessions on the pause table. Incorporate down (and sit if desired) to ensure your dog’s operant participation.
Step 3: Perfect your dog’s instant response to the down command away from the pause table. Introduce “wait” by delaying the click. Introduce a verbal praise marker to the bridge between the position and the click. Introduce distractions.
Step 4: Combine the instant down command with the pause obstacle. Vary the length of time your dog must wait. The release cue from Step 1 replaces the click.
Step 5: Introduce distractions. Play tug games. Introduce angled approaches and departures. Introduce wet and slippery conditions. Add the pause table to obstacle sequences.
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.