Fear of Tunnels.
In the beginning dogs are afraid of tunnels. If your dog already loves tunnels, then you may wish to skip this section and see the right column.
"I didn't like tunnels at first and the instructor had to give me a gentle push before I would go in,," my Magic Momo Superdog revealed to me recently.
If you dogr is reluctant to a tackle a tunnel, don't worry. In time he/she will be addicted to tunnels! Below is a cute video of Rex learning to go through a Tunnel. This is one approach to consider.
Rex Learns the Tunnel.
In this video a cute young Australian Shepherd is being introduced to the tunnel obstacle. If I were doing this, I would use a much larger and shorter tunnel to make the tunnel easier.. Remember our motto: Gradus ad Parnasum, which means in effect "Small steps to perfection."
Patience. Notice how patient the trainer is. She holds the treat at the other end of the tunnel and waits. When Rex starts to go through she "clicks" to signal to the dog that he is doing the right thing. Then when he emerges from the tunnel he gets his reinforcer (a reward that strengthens behavior).
Other Techniques for Teaching the Tunnel.
Here are some other things to try:
Hungry. Make sure your dog is hungry before you go out to train. Get an inexpensive collapsible tunnel. [See Agility Equip.] Scrunch it up so it is very short. Put a high powered treat your dog loves in a bowl. Position the bowl a few feet from the tunnel exit. Show your dog the treat bowl, but don't let her grab the treat just yet.
That's easy to do if you have used the Ian Dunbar training method. For Momo, I just say, "Off, don't take it yet," and she respects my wishes. Momo will even run past a treat bowl in the middle of a course if she knows it is not time to get her treat.
Bring your dog to the other side of the tunnel, which should be straight and very, very short. (Remember: "Small Steps to Perfection." ) Your dog should be able to see the treat bowl through the tunnel.
Give your dog a cue to run through the tunnel to get his/her high powered treat. I like to say "Steady, Ready, Action, Camera!"
If you dog doesn't sprint through the tunnel for the treat it is probably because 1) The tunnel is too long, or 2)Your dog is not hungry, or 3) The treat is not something your dog really loves.
If you dog loves toys, you could try placing a toy on the other side of the tunnel, or throwing the toy through the tunnel.
Tunnel Love. Now Momo loves tunnels -- she loves 'em so much she will run into them on her own -- if NOT told otherwise what to do. Most experienced agility dogs are tunnel focused -- tunnels seem to have a automatic suction button that is always on.