In agility competitions there are two types of tunnels, open and collapsed. I’ve talked a bit about what’s the difference between them and how you can make your own using a simple kid’s tunnel and a towel. In actual competitions the tunnels are large, heavy fixtures with a bend in the middle. Obviously that’s not going to fit in your living room, so we’ll scale down.
As I said, all you need is a kid’s tunnel or perhaps some cardboard boxes. Both ideas usually allow you to add more tunnels to the end and that’s all you really need. If you’re practicing for competition it’s a good way to give your Shiba Inu some experience beforehand.
So the problem boils down to teaching your dog to go through it. Shibas are generally very active and curious and will probably show interest in your new contraption the instant you lay it down on the floor, not even unfolded. Let’s go through each type of tunnel and teach the dog it’s a lot of fun.
Teaching your Shiba Inu to do the Open Tunnel
First of all I advise you to pick different words for the types of tunnels because, since they have a bend, the dog won’t see the end of the tunnel from the beginning. Having a different word lets him know what to expect. If he doesn’t know what to expect he’ll start to become fearful of it and won’t come out to play anymore.
Start with the tunnel almost completely folded, kind of like an accordion. You want him to see the end of the tunnel and you want the fabric he steps on to be as smooth as possible.
Now have your dog stay on one side of the tunnel, you go on the other side and show him some yummy treats (which you hold inside the tunnel) and call him to you. As he enters the tunnel praise him and reward him with the treat. Practice this part, each time going a little farther in the tunnel.
Once he’s got that down you can add the command word “Tunnel” or whatever you want. Hold the treat outside the other end of the folded tunnel, call him with the command word and as he darts to it say “good Tunnel” or what word you chose. Now it’s a simple matter of slowly extending the tunnel until it’s at full length.
If your Shiba Inu won’t go through the Open Tunnel
He may not like it right away, here’s what might be causing it. The folded surface might seem too freaky and scary to go on. You can either unfold it a little bit and try again, or you can add a towel or something on the flat so it looks a little better.
Another possibility is that you’re going too fast. If you think that’s the case try first feeding him a treat at the beginning of the tunnel. Just enough inside so he has to put his head in there. Then go a little farther and from there on it’s smooth sailing.
He might just plainly be afraid of the tunnel. So be clever about it. Show him it’s no big deal. Place a few treats inside the tunnel and go watch some TV. Watch as your Shiba Inu curiously starts to interact with the contraption, drawn upon it by the unmistakable scent of treaties.
The Open Tunnel is a great obstacle to run and a lot of fun for you and your Shiba. Expect to play around with it for years, even if it’s just made out of foldable boxes.
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