Handlers rarely spend enough time and energy training the table. I know that many competitors, like Esteban, believe the table no longer has any relevance to the sport of agility.
But for now the table is a legal obstacle in many organizations (yes, even in the FCI) and with a little work, we can turn the table into a second chance to lead out, get ahead of our dogs, and create a handling advantage.
Is your table performance an asset or a liability?
One of our VIP members recently shared a video of her dog’s “touch and go” table behavior—the dog jumped on and immediately jumped off the table. This was her 6th consecutive run with a table fault and the only error keeping them from their Excellent title!
The first time this happens to you, your friends will tell you that the table was slippery and that might certainly be the case. But if this is happening to you repeatedly, consider the possibility that your dog isn’t quite sure what they need to do to earn a reward when a table is around.
Do you ever have to “face guard” your dog when they are on the table, standing very close to prevent them from hopping off early? This limits your ability to lead out and position yourself properly for the next part of the course. Handlers who can lead out away from the table have a big competitive advantage over those who can’t.
In the video below, I share some tips and demonstrate how I proof the table. A key point is to associate the stay with the obstacle itself rather than the position the dog assumes after jumping onto the table.
If you have a friend or student struggling with the table, be sure to share this article with them.