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#1 SaraPea603

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 10:00 AM

Hey everyone! First timer here! I have a Border-Aussie who is almost 11 months old who I have just started with agility. We've done the jumps, tire, table, and tunnel. He gets way too over-stimulated when we do it though, and will bark non-stop and jump and bite at my arms. He gets too crazy to listen to my commands. (This all based on a single class we've done so far, but I'm a big believer in nipping problems in the bud.)

 

I am walking calmly through the course, and keeping my voice business like, but it wasn't enough to calm him once he got going.

 

The trainer told me when he does it to gently take him by the scruff on either side of his neck and sternly say "enough". It took a couple of times doing it during a run but he finally focused enough to run down the tunnel when I asked, and kept quiet. Phew! 

 

My question is, what do all of you typically do in these scenarios? This seemed to work for my dog, but I'm curious what everyone does. I don't want him to eventually stop enjoying it, but he needs to chill out! lol! He didn't seem terribly bothered by the correction, but I want to be sure I'm not potentially setting us up for future problems.

 

Thank you for any advice!


~Sheldon~

~Cash~


#2 mum24dog

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 11:08 AM

I wouldn't correct, I would stop the fun and walk away. But really I would break it up into small exercises that he can cope with without getting OTT in the first place.

 

It may be the wrong impression but it sounds like you are doing an awful lot very early in his training and it may be too much for him.

 

Remember though that he is part Aussie and barking comes with the territory'  



#3 SaraPea603

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 03:53 PM

I'm working with a trainer and we did do small exercises at a time. I'm not running courses or anything. Neither he nor I know anything about agility yet. He started the foolishness our first go through with jumps. He is just so easily excited. That being said, do you mean too much physically or mentally? I am guessing you mean mentally.

I talked to a couple trainers and vets before I signed up to try it and they all seemed to think he was fine to start learning the basics at his age and knowing him. I wanted to give him something new other than basic obedience. As I said, I've only done one beginner class with him so far. Just introduced those few obstacles. Maybe he needs more time to mature mentally?? He's my first dog of this level of drive so it's been a lot to learn.

Do you think playing fetch or going for a long walk beforehand would help settle him enough to focus? The class was first thing in the morning. Maybe he wasn't mentally in a place for it?

I don't mind the barking so much if he will focus and not jump and bite. I accept it as his aussie side. Haha

Thank you for your input!!

~Sheldon~

~Cash~


#4 Blackdawgs

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 05:33 PM

Your dog is barking, jumping, and biting because he is overexcited/frustrated/etc.  This will likely get worse over time as he starts to enjoy the game and because you and apparently your instructor do not know how to deal with this issue in this context. 

 

If you stick with agility long enough to start a second dog in this sport, you will realize (hopefully) that the most important part of agility is the foundation and what happens between the obstacles.  You will look back on your first agility dog and think about all of the mistakes that you made (this happens to almost everyone). Your dog does not have a foundation (as evidenced by his behavior) and the fact that he is even doing obstacles to begin with, in his first agility class.  Your instructor may not have knowledge of teaching foundation skills and behavior--what you described is not the correct way to deal with this issue. The problem with agility instruction is that instructors walk a line between teaching correct early behaviors (which they may or may not know) and running classes in a manner that keeps students coming back.  And anyone with a few titles and a yard full of equipment can call themselves an agility instructor. Doing obstacles is much exciting that foundation work.   

 

For whatever its worth (coming from a stranger), I would suggest making some phone calls and looking for a foundation agility class (and your dog may still be too jacked up by this) or preferably a Control Unleashed type class.  You can purchase the related books on the amazon or Cleanrun.com websites

 

Your dog may or may not be "high drive", but what you are seeing is overexcitement/frustration/etc, not drive. 



#5 SaraPea603

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 06:19 PM

Thank you for your response.

That was actually my reason for asking the question - I was suspicious that was the case with the instructor/class design. It just didn't feel right.

I actually had that same thought about looking back on all this nonsense someday. Being a newbie is never fun.

I know that what he is doing is overexcitement/etc not drive. I can tell you with certainty that he has incredibly ball/toy drive. But I'm aware his response to our agility attempt was a result of not being properly prepared. Unfortunately, I wouldn't have known beforehand and the trainer said nothing about it so I'm of course disappointed. I was so excited to start and now I'm just bummed. I'm hoping to find a way to get him proper foundations.

Could you tell me what sort of "foundation" type training I should be looking for from a trainer? I've been looking into it since our poor intro session.

Thank you for your help!

~Sheldon~

~Cash~


#6 Blackdawgs

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 07:00 PM

Typically these types of classes are called Agility Foundations or something like that.

But you can start by looking for a Control Unleashed type of class.  In the absence of such a class (these are hard to find), there are 2 Control Unleashed Books by Lesley McDevitt.  Buy the puppy book--it is applicable to all ages and it is written better than her first book.  The Control Unleashed books will help with the arousal issues.

There are also on line Foundations and sport puppy classes.  Check the Fenzi Academy.

Clean Run sells foundation videos.  I like the Mary Ellen Barry series.

 

You may want to also attend some local agility trials and ask people about their instructors.



#7 SaraPea603

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 07:55 PM

I will absolutely check out those resources! Thank you so much for your help! I really appreciate it!


~Sheldon~

~Cash~


#8 Caesg

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 02:19 AM

I will also look into the Control Unleashed puppy book for arousal help. Thank you for the suggestions, Blackdawgs!

#9 Shandula

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 12:22 PM

Control Unleashed is such a fabulous resource, every dog owner should read it. While you're on CleanRun there is a DVD set called "Foundation Fundamentals" that you could look into.

 

A foundations course should be all about doing things "on the flat" meaning no obstacles (mayyyybe a tunnel). Your dog should learn how to follow your body cues, turn, pay attention to you, start object discrimination etc.

 

Unfortunately, the average person doesn't care about that and wants the "sexy stuff" which are the obstacles. Instructors tend to be put in a bit of a tough place as Blackdawgs mentioned. 

 

I would also not be scruffing my dog. Agility should be fun, and it isn't his fault that you haven't learned how to communicate effectively yet. Any class where you did four obstacles the very first night would be a class I wouldn't go back to. 



#10 Blackdawgs

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 01:33 PM

Foundations should also include how to play with your dog (really!), work on unstable surfaces, types of and proper use of reinforcement, managing your dog when it is not your turn, homework.....



#11 CptJack

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 02:53 PM

Late to the party, but agreeing with others, both in this being frustration behavior and that foundations are (way) more important than obstacle performance.  Obstacle performance is the easy part (to teach and for the dog). 

 

Our foundations classes cover uneven ground work, sending around cones, restrained recalls, recalls with distractions, focus,  and the start of marking/targeting behavior.   Little bits of tunnel work, becaue people get bored and quit without something.  Starts of crosses on the flat.


I will say that early on I had a major issue with Molly leaping and biting at me.  My response to that was exactly what Mum2 suggested:  I walked away.  Didn't take her long to sort out that it wasn't getting her anywhere/anything.



#12 SaraPea603

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 08:48 PM

Thanks everyone!

 

My plan is to get the Control Unleashed book and Foundation Fundamentals DVD set as soon as I can and work from there. Maybe an online course with something like FDSA if I can't find anything local (which is turning out to be a challenge).

 

In the meantime, I e-mailed the trainer to discuss my issues with the class and preference for fundamental training. She seems willing to work with me, and agreed with the issues I was having (even though I'm the one who had to bring it up). I'm guessing she doesn't often hear "please don't do obstacles with us, lets just do fundamental ground work". Hopefully that holds true. I wouldn't have bothered contact or go back at all if I hadn't already paid for it (series of 6). I will give it a second chance given her response. If it's still a mess of chaos I won't bother again - and will likely just walk out. I don't want to set us up for major issues going forward.

 

Ugh. At least I know now.


~Sheldon~

~Cash~


#13 Blackdawgs

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 11:07 PM

Sadly, finding *good* local agility instruction can be a challenge. 



#14 alligande

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 02:12 AM

Looks like you are in New Hampshire, don't know if this place is close to you https://www.alldogsgym.com I used to compete there. NH has a lot agility going on and some good instructors, I was always jealous of what was available compared to my options in RI, perhaps go to a USDAA trial at All dogs and chat to people and get instructor recommendations. Personal recommendations are the best source of finding a good instructor. I have had personal experience of the frustration of bad instruction, sometimes it's best just to move on.

#15 SaraPea603

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 10:26 AM

Hi alligande, All Dogs is near me. The issue I was having with them is their class schedule doesn't fit my work schedule so I couldn't fit into their classes. That's a great suggestion to check out the trials at All Dogs though! I will definitely do that. Thank you for the suggestions!


~Sheldon~

~Cash~


#16 MarTau

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 02:33 PM

Lots of good advice.  In the ten years that I've been competing in agility (and before that in obedience) I have seen this problem several times.  Don't give up.  I have never seen a dog act like this that was not high drive.  I have also seen them become champions.  Nipping is part of herding.  Barking nonstop comes with an Aussie.  We get used to it.  One of my friends bought all of his clothes for training from Old Navy because they were inexpensive.  His pup frequently tore them.  The dog no longer nips him and is a champion.  The key is to calm the dog, and let the dog know that this is not appropriate behavior.  A common technique is to put the dog on a down stay, and leave the course.  Play time is over.  Crate time it is.  Remember you are working with a highly intelligent dog.  They do learn.  Be patient and consistent.  Please also keep in mind that your dog is an individual.  What works with one dog does not always work with the next.  There are no absolutes in dog agility training, however, there are quiet a few know it alls.  Hang in there.  You'll have a blast!



#17 GentleLake

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 03:16 PM

Where in NH are you? And how far are you willing to travel for a foundations class?

 

I can ask some rescue friends in the area for recommendations. They've often got some good resources.


"People in your life always come and go all the time; the dogs are always there for me. Always." ~Samantha Valle


#18 SaraPea603

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Posted 26 March 2017 - 04:50 PM

MarTau -

Thank you for your input! All helpful info, thank you! I won't give up. I know he will be really go at this if I can work out the kinks. He's super brave about the obstacles.

I'm currently reading Control Unleashed puppy program, and looking into private lessons.

GentleLake -

I live in central NH, work close to seacoast NH. I'm willing to travel a fair bit depending on how it would fit into schedule and cost. Thank you for offering your assistance!

~Sheldon~

~Cash~


#19 alligande

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 11:59 AM

You mentioned you live in central NH. Even if you are to far away to train regularly with Amanda she is certainly close enough for the occasional seminar or private. http://www.datadrivenagility.com/training-center 

I used to take private lessons from her and still take her online classes regularly with her she is a great trainer.



#20 GentleLake

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 07:05 PM

2 recommendations I got in NH are Bo-Gee in Raymond and Lo Baker in Manchester.

 

If I get any more I'll post them.


"People in your life always come and go all the time; the dogs are always there for me. Always." ~Samantha Valle




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