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  #11  
Old 01-25-2013, 07:30 PM
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Laurelin Laurelin is offline
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Neither of my dogs like other dogs in their space. That's perfectly fine/normal.

There's a lot of drive building games you can do. Does he like toys or food? Playing with toys is a great way- tug, ball, etc.

We do a lot of sit run sit. Targetting. Building drive to a target. Restrained recalls. I am sure someone will have a link to something.

Honestly, I had given up on Summer but I am SO GLAD we tried it again this new way. She's having a blast.

If the training facility you're at has a foundations/flatwork class then I'd try to get in that.
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  #12  
Old 01-26-2013, 12:53 PM
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I started doing Agility with Kiska when she was four years old. She never really had a good foundation, I did it more to help her confidence and it did do that. She did get three Q's ( Gamblers, Jumpers and Snooker) which was at an indoor trial. Most of our trials are outdoors and I soon found she was shutting down, would just stand and not move on. As there is only one indoor trial a year I decided to retire her and start over with my young dog. I don't doubt if I had really worked at it I could have gone on with her but as she obviously was not enjoying it I quit with her. Probably if I had not had a younger dog in training, plus Remmy, I would have tried a little harder with her.
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  #13  
Old 01-26-2013, 02:03 PM
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BostonBanker BostonBanker is offline
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I agree that, if you want to do agility, you don't need to give up. Some dogs need very different things to get comfortable with agility, and you may need to find that trainer who is willing to help you with a dog that doesn't fit the normal mold.

I've posted about my stress-case agility dog, Meg, quite a bit. She was extremely difficult to get excited about agility. Just a soft-tempered worrier at heart. But she was my only dog at the time, and I wanted to do agility, so we worked like crazy at it.

Some bits of advice that really helped us - some of which I got right here on this board!

- Ado already said it, but don't "just keep trying" if something isn't working. For a long time, Meg couldn't take being wrong more than once. She'd try, and if I made her try again, she'd quit. Take a break, do a trick, play a game, do something you can reward your dog for, and then go back to it. Make what you are asking easier.

- Speaking of which - make things easy. So easy it feels stupid. Do a jump to a straight tunnel, and pump up your dog and see how fast you can get it and reward like crazy. Speed circles are great too - just a very simple circle of jumps, or jumps and tunnels where the dog stays on the same side of you. Any time you see the slightest increase in speed and confidence, have a party and reward.

- Play with your dog. Constantly. Before you go to the start, while jumps are being adjusted, after you are done. Whatever silly game your dog likes. Meg's favorite? She loved when I'd meow (yes, I looked like a fool). I'd meow, say "Where's the kitty?!" and she'd get so excited she could barely contain herself. Teach silly, fast tricks like spinning or jumping up at you or barking on command. Gusto likes it when I smack the floor and let him jump at my hands. Anything that makes your dog excited. My rule with my dogs is that if they are out of the crate at agility, I'm engaged with them and playing. If I want to stop and change the course, chat with someone, check my phone, discuss what went wrong with a course - they go back in the crate. They know when they come out of the crate, it is time to put their game face on! And more importantly with my two dogs - they know I've got my game face on too. Nothing stinks more than feeling like you are giving 100% to the team, and your partner is slacking.

- Figure out how your dog likes you to run. This was something I had to figure out on my own, because I constantly heard "If you want your dog to run faster, you need to run faster!". Now, that works for Gusto. If I get ahead of him, it turns into a big game of chase. For Ms. Softy Meg? It just undermined her confidence. I can be a bit ahead of her, but she gets worried and freaked out if I'm blasting off without her. It's hard for me to remember when I swap out my dogs that I need to wait for her a bit!

- Be willing to adjust the rules if you need to. Again, this was something I had to work out, and I might get smacked down for saying it. I'll preach "Maintain your Criteria!" until the cows come home for some dogs (including my younger dog Gusto), but with Meg, I had to be willing to compromise. At home and practices, she has a bombproof start line. She sets up between my legs on one cue, sits and holds it. I can proof it out by throwing food, running off, having other dogs and people move around - anything. At trials? It doesn't happen. The busy atmosphere, the extreme pressure of the dogs on the line behind her - it's just too much. I could try to work it out and force her to maintain my start line criteria, but instead I compromise. She can do a stand stay as long as her feet stay still until she's released. Could it be proofed out? Probably. But it would turn her start line into a stressful place, and it isn't worth it to me. The woman who helped me with Meg from day one said "For a dog who is bonded to you and highly worried, there is no greater nightmare then you leading them out into a field surrounded by strange dogs and people and objects - then asking them to stay by themselves while you leave." I pick my battles.

I think the biggest thing for me and my dogs is the playing and getting them pumped up. If my dog isn't acting excited and revved up, we don't even go to the equipment. At this point in her life, Meg rarely takes more than a minute to get ready. She knows the game. Gusto is still such a baby, sometimes we will use up half our time on course in classes or practices before I even get his leash off him. Tugging, spinning, jumping - whatever it takes. If your dog doesn't like those games (Meg doesn't) another one that worked well for her was to hold her back by the chest, throw a treat out ahead of her and say "Ready? Ready?" until she was pumped and straining to break loose for the treat, then give her the release word and let her run to the treat.
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  #14  
Old 01-27-2013, 10:05 AM
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adojrts adojrts is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BostonBanker View Post
I agree that, if you want to do agility, you don't need to give up. Some dogs need very different things to get comfortable with agility, and you may need to find that trainer who is willing to help you with a dog that doesn't fit the normal mold.

I've posted about my stress-case agility dog, Meg, quite a bit. She was extremely difficult to get excited about agility. Just a soft-tempered worrier at heart. But she was my only dog at the time, and I wanted to do agility, so we worked like crazy at it.

Some bits of advice that really helped us - some of which I got right here on this board!

- Ado already said it, but don't "just keep trying" if something isn't working. For a long time, Meg couldn't take being wrong more than once. She'd try, and if I made her try again, she'd quit. Take a break, do a trick, play a game, do something you can reward your dog for, and then go back to it. Make what you are asking easier.

- Speaking of which - make things easy. So easy it feels stupid. Do a jump to a straight tunnel, and pump up your dog and see how fast you can get it and reward like crazy. Speed circles are great too - just a very simple circle of jumps, or jumps and tunnels where the dog stays on the same side of you. Any time you see the slightest increase in speed and confidence, have a party and reward.

- Play with your dog. Constantly. Before you go to the start, while jumps are being adjusted, after you are done. Whatever silly game your dog likes. Meg's favorite? She loved when I'd meow (yes, I looked like a fool). I'd meow, say "Where's the kitty?!" and she'd get so excited she could barely contain herself. Teach silly, fast tricks like spinning or jumping up at you or barking on command. Gusto likes it when I smack the floor and let him jump at my hands. Anything that makes your dog excited. My rule with my dogs is that if they are out of the crate at agility, I'm engaged with them and playing. If I want to stop and change the course, chat with someone, check my phone, discuss what went wrong with a course - they go back in the crate. They know when they come out of the crate, it is time to put their game face on! And more importantly with my two dogs - they know I've got my game face on too. Nothing stinks more than feeling like you are giving 100% to the team, and your partner is slacking.

- Figure out how your dog likes you to run. This was something I had to figure out on my own, because I constantly heard "If you want your dog to run faster, you need to run faster!". Now, that works for Gusto. If I get ahead of him, it turns into a big game of chase. For Ms. Softy Meg? It just undermined her confidence. I can be a bit ahead of her, but she gets worried and freaked out if I'm blasting off without her. It's hard for me to remember when I swap out my dogs that I need to wait for her a bit!

- Be willing to adjust the rules if you need to. Again, this was something I had to work out, and I might get smacked down for saying it. I'll preach "Maintain your Criteria!" until the cows come home for some dogs (including my younger dog Gusto), but with Meg, I had to be willing to compromise. At home and practices, she has a bombproof start line. She sets up between my legs on one cue, sits and holds it. I can proof it out by throwing food, running off, having other dogs and people move around - anything. At trials? It doesn't happen. The busy atmosphere, the extreme pressure of the dogs on the line behind her - it's just too much. I could try to work it out and force her to maintain my start line criteria, but instead I compromise. She can do a stand stay as long as her feet stay still until she's released. Could it be proofed out? Probably. But it would turn her start line into a stressful place, and it isn't worth it to me. The woman who helped me with Meg from day one said "For a dog who is bonded to you and highly worried, there is no greater nightmare then you leading them out into a field surrounded by strange dogs and people and objects - then asking them to stay by themselves while you leave." I pick my battles.

I think the biggest thing for me and my dogs is the playing and getting them pumped up. If my dog isn't acting excited and revved up, we don't even go to the equipment. At this point in her life, Meg rarely takes more than a minute to get ready. She knows the game. Gusto is still such a baby, sometimes we will use up half our time on course in classes or practices before I even get his leash off him. Tugging, spinning, jumping - whatever it takes. If your dog doesn't like those games (Meg doesn't) another one that worked well for her was to hold her back by the chest, throw a treat out ahead of her and say "Ready? Ready?" until she was pumped and straining to break loose for the treat, then give her the release word and let her run to the treat.
BEST POST, PERIOD.

Nicely done, BB. Excellent information and advise.
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  #15  
Old 01-27-2013, 10:20 AM
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Emily Emily is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adojrts View Post
BEST POST, PERIOD.

Nicely done, BB. Excellent information and advise.
Fantastic post.

OP, you should check out Sylvia Trkman's video Ready Steady Go. It's basically what BB told you in lots of detail. She has all sorts of fun, practical advice for getting your dog geared up for agility, esp about building that really fun relationship.
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  #16  
Old 01-28-2013, 02:17 AM
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Kimbers Kimbers is offline
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Agree with what everyone's been posting. (Actually, this thread is great inspiration for working with Kailey.)

Just one thing to add, though. If your dog is stressing heavily, working on being calm and content should come before drive. If your dog is just a teencey bit unsure, uninterested, or uncomfortable with a situation, doing drive work and being their cheerleader should boost them up their drive and chase away their worries. But if your dog is so stressed in an environment that it shuts down and doesn't want to work, you'll need to do some work with getting them comfortable before you add drive to the equation. Remember, you build drive brick by brick. But before you can even start building, you need a level surface, ie a calm, unstressed dog. (Hope that makes sense.)

Oh, and one more thing. Shaping games are great for confidence for some dogs. Worked wonders with Kailey, who used to act almost exactly like what you described. The dog has to puzzle through, learning to deal with being wrong and not getting a reward. They don't get any sort of negative reinforcement, though, so it shouldn't be stressful. It's a fun game that teaches the value with working with you as the dog's handler and keeping at something even if it takes a while to get it right.

Other than that, I have nothing to add. BB pretty much covered it all. Just work on reading your dog's body language and remember that you guys are individuals who need to move at your own individual pace.
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