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Old 05-27-2013, 08:03 AM
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Golly's Mom Golly's Mom is offline
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Default Does anyone have a dog that has a love/hate relationship with Agility?

Hello to all,

I have a 1 1/2 year old border collie/blue heeler/rat terrier mix. She sometimes seems to love agility, her tail wags and she flies through the course. Sometimes, as soon as we get there, she flattens herself to the ground and runs to the door as soon as I take her lead off.

A few months ago she had a bad fall off of the high walk, she ended up dangling in the metal trussel and hung by her leg. It cut her in several places. Before that she was pretty into it consistently.

Now, we have gotten over being afraid of that obsticle and she goes over it no problem.

It seems she is in her own head. I took her to class last week and she refused to work but she had alot of exersize the day before so we just left. Yesterday she shut down too, and I ended up doing all of the runs on leash, stopping to take it off when she went through the tunnels.

The trainer said if we left again because she didn't want to work, it would be teaching her to shut down.

I want her to be happy and enjoy agility like I do. Sometimes she does, and when she does she excels in it, she is so fast and soooo smart!

Does anyone have any thoughts about her situation? Any idea's? Have you experienced this?

Elizabeth
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Old 05-27-2013, 08:33 AM
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I question your trainer's thoughts...if my dog was so stressed in class I had to put her on leash and drag her through obstacles, then something is very wrong and we need to go back to making this super fun and exciting. Class should be safe and familiar and non-stressful.

How often are you rewarding? What are you using for rewards? I would up the ante to something incredible (hot dogs, cheese, chicken liver) and reward her just for going out towards the obstacles. Enter class, get treats, leave. Repeat a zillion times until she is super excited to go in. Then treats after every individual obstacle.

Go back to kindergarten My trainer's suggestion is always that you never want your dog to "fail" more than twice. If you ask them to do something (whether an obstacle, a sequence, or just a "stay") and they mess it up twice, you've made it too hard and you need to make their life easier to make them successful.
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Old 05-27-2013, 08:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliTerp07 View Post
I question your trainer's thoughts...if my dog was so stressed in class I had to put her on leash and drag her through obstacles, then something is very wrong and we need to go back to making this super fun and exciting. Class should be safe and familiar and non-stressful.
This. There are things I expect more from my dog and agility is not one of them, we practice, we make it fun, and we walk away sans reward if they're having an off day.

This is a game, a hobby, there is no reason to force the dog to participate. Go back, find her motivations and rebuild her confidence.
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Old 05-27-2013, 09:23 AM
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Default Great! This is exactly the responses I needed :)

I was thinking that it wasn't fun at all to see her prostrated on the floor. I felt awful dragging her by the leash over the jumps and up the walk. Anytime I took the leash off she ran away to the gate.
Great idea's about positive association, I wish I would've been thinking instead of taking her through the whole class the way I did.

Thanks guys! I will start at square one for her, treats (really good ones instead of string cheese) and lots of praise for just showing up. My biggest wish is that we love agility together. More importantly, I just want her to be healthy and happy. I knew in my gut that wasn't the right move for her yesterday...
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Old 05-27-2013, 09:30 AM
stardogs stardogs is offline
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By any chance do you have another option for classes?

Your instructor's advice to drag her through quite frankly sucks and she's likely formed a bad association with the location, if not the actual obstacles. A new instructor and new environment would be ideal to start over in when going back to the basics.
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by stardogs View Post
By any chance do you have another option for classes?

Your instructor's advice to drag her through quite frankly sucks and she's likely formed a bad association with the location, if not the actual obstacles. A new instructor and new environment would be ideal to start over in when going back to the basics.
Agree completely.

You may also want to have her double-checked by a vet to make sure she isn't in pain somewhere. Many of us with sport dogs here take our dogs to chiropractors. You can look for one here: http://www.avcadoctors.com/search_fo...ied_doctor.htm
If she got physically hung up it's possible she got something pulled out of alignment or hurt a muscle. A lot of working dogs will not show that they are in pain in a traditional way but may start refusing to work, leaving people wondering what's up because the dog doesn't SEEM like it's hurting anywhere.

With that in mind I question even MORE your trainer's position - if a dog that normally enjoys agility isn't willing to play I always consider pain as a possibility, and forcing a dog who's hurting to do something that hurts... bad for the dog's mojo and potentially bad for the dog's body. I definitely would look for another training possibility if you can find one!

I also agree about going back to kindergarten and rewarding a LOT! My dogs all have days that sometimes they just aren't as super into something and it's a clue to me that I need to ramp up the rewards, whatever they might be, and make sure that whatever we are doing is still a game first and foremost. All training is a game to me and my dogs - if it doesn't feel like playing anymore (to either of us) I'm doing something wrong and need to re-evaluate!


I know it can be very difficult when you have a trainer telling you to do something you really don't want to do or your gut is telling you is wrong. The trainer says to do it, and as humans we are very engineered to do as we are told, especially by authority figures. It's really hard to stand up to a trainer and be an advocate for your dog. I have been in that position myself! It's really tough, but if you aren't able to find another trainer, it's definitely something you'll have to learn to do. Like I said, I've been there and done something I knew I shouldn't do... and I've also learned how to say no. Difficult for sure and it's not a pleasant position to be in at all.

Good luck! If you want to use some great treats, I like to use pieces of hot dog. If the slimy factor grosses you out you can nuke them in your microwave until they get harder and dry. But your house will smell like hot dog when you do that, haha!
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:14 AM
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Change locations and trainers, period. Trainer doesn't have a clue, news flash to the trainer, dog is already stressing and shut down and should not be expected to do ANYTHING in that state of mind. By forcing the dog to perform, it is only building upon the negative state of mind and it will only get worse. Dogs just don't 'get over these things and to suck it up'.

Also when your dog is excited and doing the equipment, doesn't mean she isn't stressing high (just a different version of shutting down).

Any trainer that instructs someone to run any piece of equipment on leash raises red flags to me. Makes me question how well you and your dog were trained in the first place.

After your dog was injured and scared on the Dog Walk (not called the high walk btw), what was done to retrain that piece of equipment safely? Did you go back to plank work and then a lowered dog walk and build the confidence again or was the dog just expected to get on it again?
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