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Living in an Agility Black Hole

Problem solving in deepest Norway

Mike and Else Theiss live in beautiful southwestern Norway with their two Cairn Terriers and a Flat-coated Retriever. They say that most of the top Norweigan teams come from the east, and their area is considered a 'white spot' on the agility map. Because they live so far out in the country, they don't have the possibility of participating in organized agility training on a regular basis, so they had to find 'alternatives.'

Competitions are not yet our first priority. We take our time thinking of ways to ensure a positive approach in learning the different obstacles, and want to let the dogs experience success each time we make them try.

Mike and Else say they are not very familiar with technical terms for agility in the English language so rather than writing a lot of text, they use photos to illustrate their message. By showing how they perform agility training with their dogs Blueberry Hill, Penny Lane and Laura. They hope that other people whether they be beginners or more experienced handlers will get some ideas that will be useful for their own training.

Communication, Education & Positive Activities

The See-saw
Untrained dogs feel uncomfortable when they walk on the teeter (see-saw). The narrow path, the height and the fact that this obstacle is tilting makes them feel unsafe. We solve this problem by using very low teeters in the start, and we concentrate on the tilting process.


The Long Jump
This is how we can make our own equipment for the Long Jump using two wooden boards, thin poles to keep those boards up-right, and our broomstick-poles from the Weave Pole equipment. At the beginning, small breeds like Cairn Terriers perform better than the bigger ones.


The A-frame
 Speed is what one needs to get over the high and steep A-Frame, prevent sliding down backwards or having to perform push-ups to get to the top. A skeptical or unwilling dog, however, will not speed up for other reasons than escape.

We recommend that you begin by running up slopes and outdoor stairways together with your dog. Use the same signals and commands as if you were at the A-Frame. Treat the dog the same way as if he had delivered a great performance. Try to make the dog run in front of you. After all, this is what you would like him to do later on agility courses.


The Tunnel
 No problem. Two chairs, a broomstick and a blanket. This can even be done in your living room.


The Dogwalk
We often encourage our dogs to balance, which originally was a natural ability for their forefathers.


Photo credits: Mike & Else Theiss from their web site http://www.uio.no/~theiss/toensb.html.

For more information about their training techniques, email them on:- http://www.uio.no/~theiss/agilitye.html