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Obedience ring work

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I have a 3 year old border. We've been doing obedience training twice a week since she was 4 months. She's a good worker if a bit distractable (just a natural sticky beak as are all borders I guess). She does heel on lead, off lead, recall, stays, dumbell work (on the straight and over the jump) and is doing some scent discrimination. All this goes brilliantly in class or our own training sessions, but put her in the competition ring and she's a disaster. Stands as if to follow me on her recalls and looses all points immediately, drops on her sit stays (again zero), lags on her heel work. This is all stuff she rarely does in class. I don't know if she just hates competition, is bored, or just got so ringwise so fast and knows I can't do a thing about it when in the ring. Any ideas? We've had a couple of breaks then gone back to novice competition a couple of times. I'm going to give it another try in a couple of months and figure this is my last campaign. We've started doing casual classes with a different obedience club just to give her a bit more experience of different places and dogs. She actually took to it much better than I expected. All advice/ideas would be gratefully received.




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It sounds to me like your dog needs more attention work in strange places. I would try to get together with friends for training sessions at as many different places as possible, where there are lots of distractions. It's good to train in different places by yourself also, but for group exercises (stays) it's best to have other dogs so your dog doesn't think it's a recall exercise.


Your dog is probably just comfortable training at home and at your training location and is overwhelmed in a trial situation and finds it more difficult to focus in that environment. If you are at all nervous or stressed in a trial situation, your dog will pick up on that as well.


So my advice is to first train at different locations alone, but where there are distractions like a park or grocery store parking lot with lots of people coming and going.


Then train in different places with groups of people and strange dogs.


Then try to find a "match" situation so you will have ring conditions but still be able to praise or correct as needed.


Then lastly, try trialing again.


I hope this helps. Good luck.



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I have never done compititon obedience...but...my daughter did for several years. Sounds to me as if she needs proofing and experince in differnt and a verity of places. My daughter would have me drive her down to Safeway Supermarket. Right in front of the main door... door opening and closing, people and shoping carts rushing by, she would practice heeling and figure eight, sits and downs, have stranges help with stand for exam. There was no shortage of distractions and she could work on any problems she had.

She felt if she could do it correctly there..she could do it anywhere.

It worked.


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  • 2 weeks later...

I do competition obedience and it sounds to me (the others gave great advise also) like your dog is ring wise. Meaning your dog gets corrected in class but it knows that you won't correct it in the ring. My instructor tells us to attend as many fun matches as possible. They have the feel of actual competition but you can correct your dog for it's misbehavior. After awhile of fun matches your dog should imporve greatly. Also, your dog could be reacting to your nervousness. Take several deep breaths and try to relax. Fun matches will also greatly benefit you in this area also.


Good luck! smile.gif


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