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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

The Ups And Downs Of The Dog Agility SeeSaw

By Anton Hout, author of The Guide to Aussie Training & Care

A dog agility seesaw, also called a teeter, is commonly used in most agility competitions. It is one of several pieces known as "contacts," so named because unlike jumps with these pieces of equipment your dog must actually make contact with designated areas of the obstacle. Other contacts include the A-frame, dog walk and pause table.

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Much like the piece of equipment you see in many playgrounds, a dog agility see saw consists of a plank balanced on a fulcrum. While the human version of the see saw involves one person sitting on each end, bouncing the weight of the plank back and forth, in the dog version the plank will be tilted and your dog will need to run up one side until the weight shifts and the plank tilts and then continue running down the other side.

While the idea may sound simple enough, most trainers find that the dog agility seesaw is one of the more challenging pieces for dogs to learn. This is because the movable surface can be intimidating for more timid dogs.

Australian Shepherd traversing dog agility seesaw.

Mark Herreid /

Learning to control the movement of the plank may take some time and require patience and hard work on your part. If handled correctly, however, most dogs can eventually master this piece along with the rest of the standard agility repertoire.

As with all pieces of equipment, the dog agility see saw has certain competition standards that the various professional organizations require it to meet. While practice seesaws can allow for the plank to be lowered to as little as 8", both the United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA), and American Kennel Club (AKC) require a height of 24" in competition. While starting at the lower height can help to ease your dog into learning the obstacle, if you are serious about engaging in competition you'll want to move him up to regulation height before too long.

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

A dog agility seesaw can be one of the pricier pieces of agility equipment, so it is generally not one of the first that is picked up for training purposes. It is also one of the larger pieces of equipment, usually using a 12' plank, so it may be worth your while to start with a mini teeter, which is a shortened version of the original. For those who are only taking up agility training as a hobby, this may be all you ever need.

Making Your Own Dog Agility SeeSaw

Frames can be made from plastic or PVC piping, lightweight metal or wood and the planks are also made of either aluminum or wood and painted with non-skid paint to help improve traction. As with other contact pieces, the plank of the dog agility see saw is painted one color in the center and another on the two ends. In competition, the dog will have to make contact with the designated painted sections.

For those dog owners who are handy, you can easily make your own dog agility seesaw, using 2x4's for the base and a 2x12 for the plank itself. A little sawing, hammering and painting is all it takes to complete a basic see saw, which you can use for years to come. Remember that you'll likely be leaving your see saw outside unless you have a lot of storage space so you want to use paint that is both slip resistant and water resistant.

For the complete agility experience, you'll want to tackle the seesaw with your dog. Make sure you take it slow and steady and you will master this challenging piece of equipment in no time! icon

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

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