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Anxiety during agility class

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Charlotte, my 2 year old BC, and I have been taking weekly agility classes since October. She is your typical BC- wants to work, work, work, herd, loves her toys, loves performing her tricks in front of people, loves having a "job" and absolutely loves agility. Just a very outgoing happy and healthy BC. At home practicing she is great, and up until recently she has been a shining star at her class as well.


However, about a month ago, as "graduation" from our beginner class, we had a mock competition among the members of the class... complete with whistles and spectators.


She went nuts when she heard the whistle. And went bonkers when the little crowd clapped. (She's always had a clapping phobia.) She tried to drag me to the gate that leads to the parking lot and was extremely agitated. She didn't want her squeaky toy and refused treats. I had trouble getting her to focus on me. When it was our turn, she wouldn't jump a single thing and she went and hid in the tunnel. :rolleyes: (Everyone but me and the instructor thought it was cute- I was horrified! I couldn't get her out! Talk about a bad case of "tunnel suck!")


Now, three classes later, she is still shutting down on me (although no where near as bad as the mock "competition" day). At home she is still great, but she gets so stressed during the class if any of the handlers clap or make any other loud noise, or if the dogs themselves make a lot of noise (the sound of the dogs running through the tunnel scares her now).


She is miserable- you can tell she isn't having any fun. She goes really slow through the exercises and still sometimes won't chase her toys or accept treats. She also still tries to hide in the tunnel or any other "safe place" (under tables or chairs or in the kennels lining the room) any time she can.


I've been careful to try and walk the fine line b/w comforting her to try and make her more comfortable vs inadvertantly rewarding her for this behavior. I try to be as upbeat and positive as possible to try and rekindle her former passion for agility, but its not working. My instructor suggested Bach's Rescue Remedy.


Any thoughts or suggestions?

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Sounds like Charlotte is expecting the worst and fretting herself over it. Could you take her to class before anyone else gets there, do one and only obstacle and then leave? That might give her some mental breathing room, and at the same time, leave her wanting more.


If you have a friend who has agility equipment, even 1 or 2 pieces, you could take Charlotte to the friend's place, and desensitize her to whistle's and clapping with just one person, rather than a whole crowd.


Good luck, let us know how Charlotte gets on.


Ruth n the BC3

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Sorry about your dogs sound sensitivity. Iam surprsed that the instructer would alow all this noise for beginer dogs. Should add noise slowly especialy if inside.

I agree if you can go and play with your dog and make it fun this may help.

My aussie 4 yo and doing agility since she was 5 months. was in a metal building during a rain storm and freacked out.(last year) . She will perform in that building but dose not like it. A friend whos dog is sound sesitive took 3mounths just to get her dog in the barn.

If you continue to train at this place try to distract your dog play with her ,have other studentstry not to be so noisy. or just train a short time take your dog for a walk then come back and train 5 min.

I hope you and your dog work this out with out any problems

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Something like that happened with Speedy.


We were in the second to last week of our third agility class when the instructor decided to try to start getting the dogs used to noise. She had the folks outside the ring making noise, music blaring, and some other noises going.


Speedy's brain snapped. He just went nuts on the course - jumping jumps at random, running through the tunnel constantly. I couldn't get his attention to save my life. Even after I took him out of the room he was insane. It was too much stimulation all at once.


I decided to train somewhere else after that, but agility didn't work out for us.


I hope it works out better for you since it sounds like you really want to continue with it.

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