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Agility too stressful?


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A while back I posted here about Cody nipping at my feet while doing agility. I think I still need advice or encouragement. Although we advanced to the advanced class I just don't feel like we are getting much out of it.

 

Cody still runs around the room EVERY class. He still nips a little at my feet but now he jumps around me and barks between obstacles. When I put him in a down to settle his breathing is labored from excitment (stress) I guess.

 

He can hardly stand to watch the other dogs take their turns...he is at full attention, focused on them completely, whines and barks so that I now take him out of the room. There he is calm.

 

During this class there is only one other dog in the group. When a new dog does join he is focused on them.

 

Cody can do the weave poles but in the last class he was so focused on the other dog he wouldn't pay attention to where he was going.

 

I feel frustrated and wonder if I should take a break and let him mature more (he's 1 1/2 years old) or continue. He has beautiful contacts and I feel he knows the obstacles if he could just focus. At home he is not so bad. He is still focused on some distractions but not like in class. At home it seems to be more managable.

 

My trainer feels its age and in his "genes" to behave this way. She thinks he has very strong herding instincts but that doesn't do me any good.

 

I just want to have fun with my dog and let him have fun. So continue, take a break, or quit? Is this just to stressful for him?

 

Jill

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I think a break would be a good idea, but not because agility is stressful, because your dog needs to learn to focus on you when asked to. You should be able to call your dog's attention away from any distraction, which is something that needs to be taught by you and won't magically happen as the dog ages. Getting your dog out to distracting places and working on obedience exercises would be a great start. See if any local training clubs offer distraction-proofing classes.

 

That's great your dog is manageable at home... now you need to take your show on the road, so to speak, because as I tell all my students, until we host a trial in your backyard, it doesn't matter how much of a star your dog is there, if he can't perform the same way in public, THAT is where you need to train.

 

-Laura

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We had this jumping, barking, nipping problem with Brandy when she was young. At a seminar, Stuart Mah suggested just turning your back and quitting for a bit when she got out of control; She's now working on Elite titles in NADAC and Masters Titles in USDAA.

Barb S

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Just wanted to add a thought.

 

It is NOT "herding instinct". You cannot discern that from performance on an agility course.

 

It sounds like a young dog who has attention problems to me. It is common in many dogs. Keep working at it. It will come.

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Pip was in agility and was good at it. He is aggressive so focus was an important part. New dogs always freaked him out. I was having alot of problems with lunging at people so we decided to take a break. In the last few weeks he has calmed alot and is focusing very well. I have been doing new things with him. Taking him to parks or friends yards and having him do his obedince there. When we were practising in the yard doing agility he went to the fence and sat there. He just quit.He has never done that before so I knew it was time for a break.

 

So now we are doing ob. and really working on attention. He has started running up the ramp again and jumping on his own while catching balls. So when he is ready we will go back. I think he was stressed and just not ready for all the environment changes around him. Too much stimuli someone told me on here. Maybe a break would be your best bet also.

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I appreciate all the replies. I enjoy this board because I'm never alone in my problems even though it feels like it some times. Ha.

 

Distractability has also been an issue. We've taken obedience and work on focus what seems like constantly. He's improved a lot but there is something about the agility.

 

I take him to stores and walk along the sidewalk or sit outside Starbucks and he is really ok. He can now do "watch" when a car passes. We go to the dog park and he is so focused on the ball or the frisbee he could care less about other dogs. We go to class and all he can focus on are the dogs. Ha.

 

I think its stressful or over stimulating due to rapid breathing and he just drinks and drinks. Its nice to know others have experienced this as well and have gone on successfully.

 

For now I guess we will take a break after this class and continue focus, obedience, and back yard agility practice.

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Just a question..when you go to the dog parks you said he is too focused on his ball or frisbee to notice the other dogs. What does he do if the toys are not around? My Pip was the same way and it was suggested on here to work without the toys around other dogs so that he learns to focus on me and not the toys. Pip use to jump around and get excited when the other dogs were working in agility also lunging if they came too close. I started playing where's the treat? Where's the toy? He now usually will watch me to see where the next reward is coming from. I think he likes that little focus game. The only problem is that it is difficult to follow the instructor when constntly focusing on your dog!! Luckily I had a great instructor who would explain things to me on the side.. Good luck!!!

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At the park if I don't have a toy then he always finds someone who does. Ha. His general behavior there without toys is alright. He will respond but not as consistantly as he would. I know this is something we still need to work on.

 

I have tried working on focus in class...using a treat to try and lure him into watching me instead of the other dogs. It doesn't work if a dog is going over the obstacles especially the A-frame. Ha.

 

So we have been going outside where he sits or lays very relaxed on the side walk while I watch what I'm suppose to do through the window. I need to get better at reading lips. Ha.

 

I have been wondering if perhaps it has something to do with being indoors versus being outdoors.

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  • 4 weeks later...

your pup sounds so much like my lucky..in so many ways.. she is great playing ball and doesnt take the slightest notice of the other dogs, but at obediance class it is a fight to stop her from wanting to play and bark at the other dogs...life can be soo stressful, but she seems to be improving sllllowly..i would like to do agility with her when she is good with everything else...maybe a while yet... i think persiverance is the answer....keep trying they can only get better...good luck :rolleyes:

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Have you tried a Gentle Leader? I have been using one for 2 weeks now. Those who have had issues like ( as wel as my Sean) you, have all had awesome results. Only use it when something great is going to happen. Class work is so much more productive too. Hang in there!

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