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BorderMa2

Barking while waiting to run the agility course

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I'm in desperate need of help....my BC goes absolutely crazy while waiting his turn to run the agility course. I've had my trainer tell me to turn him around, cover his eyes, but he's impossible. He's so strong he turns back around and barks like crazy. I've tried to get his attention by trying to get him to do tricks or watch me, but nothing works. He is so focused on the dog running the course and I can't break that focus. By the time it's our turn I'm so exhausted from trying to control him. Do you have any ideas as to what I can do.

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I'm in desperate need of help....my BC goes absolutely crazy while waiting his turn to run the agility course. I've had my trainer tell me to turn him around, cover his eyes, but he's impossible. He's so strong he turns back around and barks like crazy. I've tried to get his attention by trying to get him to do tricks or watch me, but nothing works. He is so focused on the dog running the course and I can't break that focus. By the time it's our turn I'm so exhausted from trying to control him. Do you have any ideas as to what I can do.

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Work with your dog far enough away from the ring that he can still focus on you. Play with him, work on heeling, ask for simple tricks and eye contact games, whatever you usually play with him. Gradually move the games closer to the ring, but if at any time he finds it difficult to keep his attention on you, take a step back. This may mean starting these games outside the building or completely out of view of the action, each dog is different. It will take some time, be patient. Do this training/ play between runs, so he learns that getting out of his crate and walking toward the ring doesn't always mean he's going to get to run.

In the mean time for your runs, warm your dog up beforehand, then return him to his crate and leave him there until the dog before you is entering the ring. Let the gate steward know what you are doing so they don't have to holler for you ;), and get your dog out just before you run, so that you can basically walk right in the ring to line up.

I have also known some dogs that take great comfort in holding / flinging their favorite toy in their mouth while waiting (like a pacifier :))

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It is a very common border collie problem. If you google these boards for reactivity you will find loads of threads with dogs having the same behavior. My first agility dog turned into a raving lunatic once we started training with other dogs really running. Members of these boards introduced me to a book called Controled Unleashed and we worked our way through some of the exercises and it really helped him. There are two versions of the book and I understand the puppy book is easier to work with, although called puppy it is still applicable to all dogs.

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Thank you all so much for your input. We have been trying everything. Someone suggested a shock collar, but I don't want to give him any negative reinforcement. He's a good boy...friendly with people and other dogs. He just seems to get so worked up when it comes to other dogs running agility. I think it initially begins when we arrive for training. He normally walks fine on leash, but at the facility drags me into the building. I can't even get him to focus on me. I did order the "Control Unleashed" book. I don't want to give up on him and pull him out of agility. He really loves it.

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Yeah, you've definitely got to work with him at a distance where he's under threshold, otherwise you just won't be able to engage his brain, which is already overstimulated.

 

You might have to forgo entering trials for a while while you work on this issue, just taking him and working on desensitization/counter conditioning at a distance where he's not so amped up.

 

The very real risk of using a shock collar would be creating such an intense negative association with the ring that he won't want to approach it or run the course.

 

Good luck.

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My first agility border collie was a car chaser when we got him, and once agility started getting fast he really was a raving lunatic, I started taking a soft crate to training and keeping it covered so he could not get worked up, I also left him the car between his sessions. Over time and with patience and a lot of help from Controlled unleashed he settled down and could chill as trials. My young dog could easily become the same dog and I use have to work at keeping him under threshold, he was at a very big agility competition recently as a spectator and we use exposed him to things in very small pieces. It can be managed and you will not have to give up agility and really is very common. The shock collar is a very bad idea for something like this.

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