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Training the Pause Table - Part 1  

General Overview

By MS du Toit

Although the pause table seems to be a very easy obstacle to perform, it is not. The pause table is probably the one obstacle where the most time is lost during a course run. The table is included on a course to demonstrate that an agility dog can not only run fast and perform spectacular obstacles, but that he can also be controlled in a stay position at a certain place. I have divided this article into a series of 6 different parts, because it is a bit long. This general overview is part 1, the send to the table is part 2, the fast sit or down is part 3, the secure stay is part 4, the release is part 5 and the chaining is part 6. This will also have the effect that you will read each part separately, but more importantly that you will train each part separately.

Here follows a few reasons for the poor table performance of an agility dog:

1. Handlers tend to think it is an easy obstacle to perform and therefor it is not practised enough.
2. Handlers find it boring and unintencially carry that over to the dog.
3. It is not taught correctly and thoroughly to the dog.

How to teach the pause table to the dog:
Wherever possible I always break the commands down to the simplest forms and then, once the dog can reliably perform each segment correctly and fast, chain it back up together. The table command is no different. Your ultimate aim with the table command is that you should be able to send the dog to the table from anywhere on the course, the dog should jump on the table and immediately go into the down or sit position (whatever is required by the judge) and remain in that position until released. In other words you can break the table performance into the following four things:

1. Send to the table – the dog runs enthuciastically to the table and jump onto the table
2. Fast sit or down – the dog performs an immediate fast sit or down on command
3. Secure stay – the dog performs a secure stay, not moving from that position
4. Release – the dog performs a fast release and immediately following your hand and body to perform the next obstacle

Chaining the commands together

The table is one of the most easiest of the agility obstacles that can be trained in your garden or even in the house when it is raining outside. It is also probably the obstacle that is trained the least and that accounts for the most time lost during a course run. I would therefor strongly suggest that you buy a table from Affordable Agility so that you can train your dog at home to do a solid table performance. You can construct it yourself, but it needs to be very secure. If your dog jump on it and it collapses under him, you wil NEVER get a good performance from your dog. Some dogs might never even want to come close to the table again. There are a few obstacles I would just buy from a reliable company like Affordable Agility, and the table is definately one of those.

MS du Toit has been training dogs for ten years. Please visit her Dog Training Review Page.
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Continue to Part 2 of this series: Send to the Table
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