Agility training

Beanie

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Right now we've backed off the agility training and piled on the engagement training.
Caveat to the below, I am extremely competitive and have high expectations for my agility dogs:

This is exactly what you need to do. Agility is fun because he gets to play *with you.* My guys love agility and especially contact equipment, but none of them, not even Auggie Loves The A-Frame More Than Life Itself, interact with the contacts when they are in the agility yard alone. The value isn't with the equipment, it's with playing the game with me. It's not the "be more exciting than everything else," it's just having value built in to your relationship so the right choice becomes the easy one.

Don't rush to trialing. If he's a healthy dog he'll have a long career to be successful. And you definitely don't want him to rehearse ignoring you in the ring nor YOU begging and pleading with him to engage with you in the ring.
 

Laurelin

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I'm really hopeful that the TDAA trial will be useful that way because I can just enter one thing Friday and go from there. He has history in that building training so maybe that will help too.

It's frustrating because I really haven't bonded too much with Hank, sad as it sounds. It's coming... slowly slowly. We're playing a lot lately. I'm hoping that helps. He's so darn stoic sometimes. Fun dog but not the personality I'm used to so sometimes I feel like we just barely miss each other communication-wise. KWIM?

But he's so darn good at agility that I want to get out there going. lol When things come together it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL and those are the best moments I have with him. Last week at drop in classes when we nailed that course was absolutely amazing and we both had a total blast.

I do feel some pressure, which I am trying not to, because I have had many many people tell me he's a 'once in a lifetime sports dog', and 'national rankings quality' and 'can take me as far as possible'.

Which is exciting and all but first we gotta stay in the ring. lol

I think I have been so thrilled with a toy driven dog that the toy has become a lure. So the toy needs to not be the lure.
 

BostonBanker

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It's frustrating because I really haven't bonded too much with Hank, sad as it sounds. It's coming... slowly slowly. We're playing a lot lately. I'm hoping that helps. He's so darn stoic sometimes. Fun dog but not the personality I'm used to so sometimes I feel like we just barely miss each other communication-wise. KWIM?
Oh god, do I know. That was pretty much me and Gusto. I love him dearly and have so much fun with him and always have, but it wasn't until after over a year that I really felt like we were bonding. Maybe even longer. Meg and I clicked so quickly that I was convinced there was something wrong between me and Gusto. But he's just a different dog. I do think we have a wonderful bond now, but it isn't the same wonderful bond I have with Meg. Sometimes I still have to convince myself that Gusto and I are just fine.

I do feel some pressure, which I am trying not to, because I have had many many people tell me he's a 'once in a lifetime sports dog', and 'national rankings quality' and 'can take me as far as possible'.
Tell them thanks but please shut up ;). People say that stuff to be positive and supportive, and I think for almost every person, it just becomes undue pressure. He'll be what he will be, you will do what you will do, and that will be just fine.

(feel free to skip the rest of the post if you don't want unasked for advice from someone you don't know who hasn't done much, but has been in a fairly similar position)

Firstly I think Beanie is right in saying not to rush into trialing. Having said that - I think that if you are really desperate to go to a trial, you can make it work for you.

If I were you, I would go to that TDAA trial, but not to see if he will stay in the ring. I wouldn't even begin to think about trying a course. I'd pick whatever point you think you can achieve without losing him - A startline sit? A lead out? One jump? And I wouldn't ask for any more than that. Ask for his startline behavior, lead out, release him over the first jump, mark it with your best cookie word, and RUN out of the ring with him, cheering him on the whole way to his cookies/toys/whatever his jackpot is.

Like Beanie said, don't rehearse him leaving you or you having to beg for attention. Get a very tiny bit of brilliant and celebrate. I wish I'd done this for the first few trials with Gusto. I tried to go back in time and recreate it using CPE level 1 classes, and I still do it sometimes in his USDAA masters classes. I'm sad I didn't do it when I should have, because it is making it harder to fix things now.

If he gets away from you to leave the ring, you pushed too far. See if you can get him engaged and playing with you on the startline, then mark it and run for the reward without even doing an obstacle if that is as much as he can give you.

It is so hard to "throw away" runs like that, but it is such a great thing for the dogs. And it will definitely be easier to do it now than when everything falls apart in a year or two because you didn't lay those foundations.

/unsolicited advice
 

Laurelin

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Gosh it's taken me 8 months till about now to feel much bond with Hank. And sometimes it's still not there much. It's getting better the last month or so. We've had a couple really nice moments, I think. It's weird because he's so friendly and happy and everyone falls in love with him right away. I've almost had him a year and he still often feels like a dog that is here boarding or something. Objectively I like him a lot. A LOT a lot. He's basically exactly what I ordered. But yeah that bond....

It took me a long time with Summer too and no dog is going to be Mia. I feel like him coming immediately after Mia is a bit difficult too. Mia is just... perfect. We just get each other and spoke the same language from day 1. But it's not always like that.

I also feel like even though he is a pretty well adjusted dog it took him around 8 months to realize he wasn't going anywhere again. Not trying to anthropomorphize him but I really think the shelter was kind of hard on him.

Anyways,

I've gotten a lot of advice from people about what to do when he checks in and out. from pull him out of the ring to try to get him to re-engage. The thing with Hank is he is smart. He is super super smart. So I think there is a likelihood that he could get ring savvy fast.

I don't mind throwing TDAA runs so that's the plan. We're going on Friday and I'll just see how that goes. Then go from there. There's a fun run in October at UKC where I can have his toy so we'll do that. The problem is there aren't many opportunities for us to really practice at a trial like environment without being entered. There's no real fun runs here. So I may end up throwing a lot of runs for now.
 

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Smart dogs suck sometimes. Gusto is so incredibly ring savvy, and while we have a decent amount of opportunities to reward in the ring - UKI and USDAA Intro are both getting pretty regular around here - toys really aren't enough for him in that context as a reward. It's frustrating, because his stress issues used to be pretty equal in the ring vs in training; it was the equipment and the game that stressed him out, not "trial stress". But while I've been able to pretty much eliminate the stress in training, I haven't had the same success in trials.

We'll see how my modified flirt pole works this weekend, although, as I pointed out to my friend, the intro/starters/advanced ring is always on one side, with the masters always on the other side. I give him about 2 days to figure out the reward can only come when he's in the I/S/A ring. Smart dogs. I also intentionally entered gamblers all three days. I figure if they look like attainable gambles for us, I can run for real, and if I look at them and think "nope", we can use it as a training run and just sprint from the ring for cookies as soon as I see something I like.
 

Laurelin

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Hank honestly LOVES agility so I do have hope. I just need him to love agility more than other dogs and all his agility friends. lol Right now he loves his ball more than all that but without the ball....

Yes smart dogs suck.
 

Beanie

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It took me a long time to value it - Payton is four and it was really just this year - but for a long time I was a bit upset at myself because I had all these LISTS and intentions for when I got my next agility puppy and we were gonna do this RIGHT and THIS AT THIS AGE and THAT AT THAT AGE.
And when I got my puppy home it all went out the window and I spent so much time just playing with my puppy.

So maybe my dog didn't hit the ring right at 15 months like some of these world team people, but when he did, my dog lived and died for me, and it meant something to me to be in the ring running my dog. SaraB posted something on here before Payton's first run: "You only have one first run with your dog." That MEANT something to me. It was in my head as I stepped into the ring. It was in my head as I put him down at the start line. It was in my head as I gave him a kiss, then another, before our run began.
I walked out of the ring crying, full of emotion over everything that had just happened with my little baby dog. Yes, some of it was emotion wrapped up from not running Auggie, but a lot of it - a LOT of it - was just Payton.
Just Payton.

You haven't even had him a full year yet! I mean, it just takes time sometimes. I think you should cut you and Hank a break on that LOL. Bonds are always different between dogs. I remember having times thinking "I will never love this puppy as much as I love Auggie..." and no, really, I don't. But I do love him differently and boy do I love him a lot! It's just different. So I would really take my time and focus on growing that bond. Take care of your relationship with your dog, because when agility is over, that relationship is all you are left with.


But yes, I agree, if you do decided to go to a trial, do it with the view of going in to find out where the holes are and then go back and train. And be careful not to keep trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole - find out where the peg doesn't fit, go back and whittle away at it, then come back in a while to see if it doesn't fit. Don't start trialing like crazy trying to force it.

I would absolutely not go to a fun run planning on using a toy from what you've described - I would stop using the toy in agility at all except for as a race to dead toy reward when you are done. Never on you and if at all possible never even in sight until the very end. Premack - not a lure!
I won't give any advice on how to deal with him checking out in the ring because there's too many factors and I've never seen him do it so can't even begin to guess what's going on - but I will add that he's still just a baby, so that's an additional factor to take into consideration. Honestly I would just take time to work on the relationship and work on him enjoying playing agility with you (not with the ball!) and I think it will likely begin to take care of itself... in an ideal world, anyway!
 
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Took Wilson to drop-in practice where he actually ran a five obstacle sequence and didn't lose his brain and did perfect send-outs and was fast and focused? What is this dog?

We do need to work on some handling stuff though, he has a really tough time with going around and wrapping a jump rather than backjumping unless I reallyyyy exaggerate my hand-motions. I should work on some lead-hand following as well, and crosses. But I mean, for a dog who has only six weeks of basic foundations classes which was basically just introducing him to different obstacles, plus the small amount of handling foundations I've worked on with him outside of classes, I can hardly complain.
 

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Oh, good heavens, be still my heart. Gusto had a *fabulous* weekend. Some errors and mistakes on both our parts, but basically zero stress and faster and happier and more confident than I have seen him in the trial ring probably ever. He got his last super Q with a first place in PIII snooker, actually got a PIII gamble this morning, and was clean and under time in PIII standard except missing the last obstacle (tire coming out of a chute - he didn't come out straight and I was too far ahead to direct him). He had a couple of dogwalks that made my heart flutter a bit.

He was very confused by the idea of the flirt pole coming out in Intro, and I'm not sure he liked it. It was hard to get him to interact with it, and I found myself calling him off equipment to come back to it. I did two intro runs, and for the second one, with the judge's permission, a friend went out while we started running and put his ball in the reward position for his dogwalk. He saw it, accelerated on his dog walk to it, and I was able to use it to reward the teeter on that run as well. I will definitely use Intro runs again in the future!

Meg had two clean jumpers runs, and two terrible standard runs. I don't think she's hit a dogwalk contact in the last 6 or so runs. She's entered in standard next weekend, but I think I'll just run her in jumpers and snooker from there on out. I'm not re-training contacts on my 11 year old dog!

I also got to run a friend's wonderful border collie in a couple of runs since she is injured, and it was a huge treat for me. He's the sweetest dogs ever, and so beautifully trained. We got a snooker Q this morning together.

I really don't want trial season to end now!
 

k9krazee

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Lauren, have you read Densie Fenzi's trial readiness PDF? There's a few good pointers and tips. Hank doesn't need to go cold turkey off his toy or rewards, just needs to get comp ready!
 

Samsonyte!

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Welp, Wilson has been running full courses the last few weeks. We don't even try to break it into smaller pieces anymore unless it's a complicated handling sequence that I want to make sure he gets. But he's getting everything and every session we go I'm seeing SO MUCH PROGRESS even from the time we get there to the time we leave. He's staying engaged and focused on me now after a few runs of "the game ends if you check out" . His weaves are looking better and better each time we go, although they're not fully closed yet. I just need to go back and retrain his contacts because he's so **** fast and excited that he's been blowing contacts left and right. And it's totally my fault because I keep letting him get away with not doing his contact behavior (I want him to sit at the bottom of the contact) and even if he does, he releases himself all the time. Same with the startline.

I'm on the lookout for fun runs within a few hours of me, because I'd really like to start getting him into trial environments and ideally doing sections of courses to show him that the trial crowd isn't scary and that were still playing his favorite game ever. I'm thinking we might enter a NADAC trial in january, just tunnelers and touch-and-go, which I think he'll have fun with and be successful at.
 

Laurelin

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Lauren, have you read Densie Fenzi's trial readiness PDF? There's a few good pointers and tips. Hank doesn't need to go cold turkey off his toy or rewards, just needs to get comp ready!
Just saw this! No I haven't!

Right now Hank is at the peak of his buttholeness (I hope!) so we're just kind of working on weekly classes, may do some private lessons more often, and waiting for his brain.

We do have a fun run tomorrow (like the only one ever around here) so we'll see how that goes. No food allowed but I can use his toy.

It's just frustrating there aren't many opportunities for mock trial type scenarios here.
 

Dekka

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Thinking of entering Dekka in a trial for the first time in... 3-4 years?! Where did the time go. A bit nervous about ring security as I am in a new area and going to be hitting new trial grounds.

Schen is going to be awesome. He is taking to agility far faster than I had expected. (He has no sport dogs in his pedigree, all confo). He loves toys and food. He is smart but so much easier than Dekka. He uses his brain to play with me. Dekka uses her brain to think up new variations of the game lol.

One nice thing about being separated. I can spend money on regular classes and lessons and don't have to justify it to anyone.
 

Dogdragoness

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I'm really hopeful that the TDAA trial will be useful that way because I can just enter one thing Friday and go from there. He has history in that building training so maybe that will help too.

It's frustrating because I really haven't bonded too much with Hank, sad as it sounds. It's coming... slowly slowly. We're playing a lot lately. I'm hoping that helps. He's so darn stoic sometimes. Fun dog but not the personality I'm used to so sometimes I feel like we just barely miss each other communication-wise. KWIM?

But he's so darn good at agility that I want to get out there going. lol When things come together it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL and those are the best moments I have with him. Last week at drop in classes when we nailed that course was absolutely amazing and we both had a total blast.

I do feel some pressure, which I am trying not to, because I have had many many people tell me he's a 'once in a lifetime sports dog', and 'national rankings quality' and 'can take me as far as possible'.

Which is exciting and all but first we gotta stay in the ring. lol

I think I have been so thrilled with a toy driven dog that the toy has become a lure. So the toy needs to not be the lure.
Ugh, toy drive is something I wish we had more of here, it is GETTING there, but I dont think it will get much more than he is right now, I have been trying to build drive in him, but he just isnt that gung ho about it haha. It sucks because he HAS sporting dogs in his lineage, his dad is a dock diver and his mother is a flyball dog, and he HAS drive, just not for toys haha.

For my next dog I am going to go heavy into a sporting lineage, to stack the odds in my favor that I will have more toy drive.
 

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I have been watching the Cynosport live feed for the last couple of days, and it has awakened a desire in me to go again.

This does not fit into my new goal of trying to have absolutely zero pressure or expectations on Gusto.
 

Beanie

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I have been watching the Cynosport live feed for the last couple of days, and it has awakened a desire in me to go again.

This does not fit into my new goal of trying to have absolutely zero pressure or expectations on Gusto.
WELP time for a third dog
 

PWCorgi

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I have been watching the Cynosport live feed for the last couple of days, and it has awakened a desire in me to go again.

This does not fit into my new goal of trying to have absolutely zero pressure or expectations on Gusto.
Lol, our team motto is "Expect nothing."
 

BostonBanker

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WELP time for a third dog
Oh, the want is so painful some days. But since it's a two-dog condo, it isn't happening until I either get rich enough to move, or there are less than two dogs residing here - which obviously I don't want.

And it's okay, because the reality is that if I had a third dog as an option, I wouldn't be trying with Gusto. And a lot of good has come of that, and a lot of reward.

But yeah. He needs me to not care so there isn't weird pressure on him. I try to rise to that challenge. It is hard.
 

Dogdragoness

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that's what I love about Lincoln, (not right now because he is doped up on pain and anti inflammatory meds from his neuter) but normally, you can put a LOT of pressure on him and it's almost like he FEEDS off it, it makes him try harder.

My husbands dog OTOH, folds like a cheap lawn chair when you put pressure on her, she freezes and wont do anything.
 

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