I'm officially retiring Murray from agility and most likely obedience as well.*
I've always said we will only do this as long as he enjoys it.* Well he isn't enjoying it and hasn't been for months.* I know I'm most certainly not enjoying it.* His attention has completely disappeared once we step foot inside a ring (whether agility or obedience).* I spend the entire time begging, pleading, scolding, & screaming just to get him to do what he needs to do because he's distracted by EVERYTHING. This isn't my performance dog.* Funny as it sounds, it's like he's been possessed by a cat. I'm serious.* He wants to do what he wants to do. His head just isn't in the game anymore. "Jump. Jump. Oh what's that over there? Oh look a ROCK!"* : "Weave? Never heard of it before in my life."* > The problem only occurs in competition.* He loves class and does really well there. I usually can't keep up with him.*In the ring, I have to drag him around. He loves training and is always happy, prancy, and upbeat.*I can't recreate the problem in training so I can't fix it and of course I'm not able to fix it during competition without getting an E and possibly barred from any and all competition so my hands are tied. Believe me, I so wanted to scruff him and shake some sense into him this weekend.*
Murray only needs 1 std leg to finish his AKC novice std title.* He's entered 3 days next weekend but if I don't see a HUGE improvement in attitude (highly doubtful), it will be his last shows.* I will forfeit our entry on the other shows we have entered that have already closed (USDAA) because I don't see any reason to go only to be frustrated as hell the entire time. I've already told my instructor that we will not be returning to class.* We do quite well in class but class performance is not our issue.* I need someone to tell me how to fix the ring preformance.
Since I'm seeing the same attitude in the obedience ring, I firmly believe his obedience career is over as well.* I will not continue to put him in the ring only to watch him melt while I stand there helpless to able to do anything to boost his confidence because of "rules".* It's creating really bad habits and it isn't fun to watch.* There is nothing I hate more than watching dogs in the obedience ring who clearly do not want to be there.*
I will focus my time and energy on getting my daughter and Essy prepared for obedience and agility.* Murray will stay home and be a couch potato. He will no longer go to class or train.* I can't afford the time or money for a dog who doesn't want to perform when it counts. Maybe I'll try to bring him out as a veteran but I'm not holding my breath.* Only time will tell. Unfortunately that means I'm without a performance dog for quite awhile since I can't have 3 dog and stay married.*
If you can't tell already, this weekend was a complete disaster.* We ran 1 jumpers and 2 std USDAA courses.* No Qs (which I don't really care about anyway but attitude I DO care about).* We somehow managed to get 4th in jumpers but had 20 something faults for TIME because I was begging and pleading with the butt head to get him around the course.* I was physically and mentally exhausted.* I came home, fed the dogs, fed the kids, and was in bed sound asleep by 7. Today we only had 1 std run.* He took 2 jumps, completely lost focus, started wandering around the ring looking at rocks (I kid you not) while I'm following or running the opposite direction, clapping, yelling, doing everything in my power short of kicking him in the butt or scruffing him to get him to focus on the task at hand (weaves).* I tried getting him to weave 5 times (he would do the first weave, skip 2 poles then go find a rock or a cone or something else more interesting) before the judge told us to go on.* I asked her if I could just spend the remaining time on the weaves and she said "No! Go on!" I went on alright.* I walked straight off the course and left Murray wandering around until he figured out I had left.* He finally came up to me so I could put his leash on. I got back to our set up and threw him in his crate.*No praise, no treats, nothing. I walked around for 30 minutes trying to calm down enough to go back and break down our tent.* I still wasn't calm but I managed to do it without leaving Murray in a crate while I drove away (j/k but only barely). I'm still furious as I write this and this all happened 8 hrs ago.* I'm mad because there is no way out of this situation but to quit and I HATE quiters.
I am so sorry to hear that you are dissapointed in Murray.
Perhaps the best thing to do is to take a break, and that way when he DOES get into the ring, he is ready to go?
I wish you all the best of luck with Murray next weekend.
I am so sorry ............. I have said the same thing that I will quit when Kona no longer enjoys being in the obedience ring. I feel for you and have no suggestions to help but offer my support with what ever you decide to do in the future,
"In moments of joy all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag." W. H. Auden
Linda, Kona and Bo
I'm so sorry. Sounds like a retirement/break is a good idea. Since Murray still love training, maybe you can try tracking? There are no "rings" when you do your tests.
As someone who has been in the same position with my Golden (who now has 14 double-Q's and 395 points towards MACh), I urge you not to quit. A lot of times the issue is that the dog is stressed by the ring environment or just doesn't find doing agility reinforcing enough to do it when faced with distractions. Conditioning and building a better working relationship usually helps too. I'm certainly not saying you're a bad trainer, have a fat dog, or have a terrible relationship with your dog; I'm just saying that there are things to try before you decide that his career is over. If you want I can give you some things I did with Dusty, but I'm not sure how welcome they are so I'm just going to throw that out there for now ;D
I don't want to sound insensitive or rude, but....I have a dog who can get like that in the ring/training for certain reasons, so I thought I would post.Originally Posted by rottnlabs
First, well.... scruffing him when he is stressed is not the way to go. I tried all sorts of ways to get Zeke to perform (rather than just sit and act like he's never heard of "sit" etc) - corrections just make it worse. When the dog gets like that, you just have to step back, take a break, and try a new approach. From my view - not performing under those circumstances isn't exactly question of obedience, its just confidence and stress etc - which is why I think corrections, for now, should probably be toned down a lot with him. Not accusing you of over correcting or anything - just that for this situation, they do more harm than good (in my experience).
When Zeke gets like Murray in the ring, I've learned not to beg/plead etc with him to perform. He just gets removed from the course - then we play around till he is comfortable and upbeat again before we retry. Begging him to finish the course (in my case) just makes him more unhappy - its not my 'normal' attitude with him, so he automatically knows something is up and its not fun.
Murray doesn't sound like he *must* retire......just maybe take a vacation, play around, have fun. Then maybe go to fun matches where you can play around in the ring etc, then when he is 100% back to himself, try again. I've had to learn to *never* give much of a correction before I go in the ring with Zeke.....I have to keep him under control and paying attention, but a correction of any sort before we go in the ring undermines his confidence/happyness.
Basically, I operate under the idea that when I train Zeke to do tricks, it is all a fun game. Trick training is fun and happy - agility and obedience are just more complicated tricks. If it goes completely wrong (which, given Zeke's history....it tends to once we get into the stressful show situation) then I am somewhat dissapointed, but I just keep trying to make it fun.
Thats just my experience with Zeke so far, though. And I dunno how it applies to you and Murray, since I have never met either one of you. So....if it is just preaching to the choir, or is totally unhelpful or irrelevant....ignore me ;D
Zeke RN, agility miscreant and CGC failure
Lydia, I know that is such a tough decision. One thing I would like to share. I thought I was loosing Caleb's attude for everything--weel actually I was. He was even running into his crate when I wanted to leave for the training center and I would have to drag him out. He'd run into his x-pen when it was time to work. Certainly not the Lab with the great work ethic and attitude I had known for the past couple of years. We were seeing it in the breed ring as well. Something was wrong. He did not even really care to see some of his most special people--the lady we vend with his Aunt Sarah! His holistic vet had me take him off the Oxyfresh Primorye stating she felt he did not need it. Out of desparation I put him back on it and bam--with in a few days I had my boy back! All that to say perhaps the vacation but perhaps it is something nutritionally that he is lacking. I told a friend of mine that there must be sometihng in the Primorye that Caleb needs. So he gets it everyday (one tablespoon) and the week we are showing I'll bump it up to two. Just sometihng to think about. I can sooooooooooooooo relate!!! It is so heart breaking! I was really beginning to look for another puppy to begin to train and compete with. I showed breed this weekend and someone who was watching us remarked that they had not seen such charisma in Caleb in the breed ring for a long time! Just something to consider Lydia. I know it is heart wretching and I do so feel for you! When I retired my first competition Lab, I got really depressed!
UCDX GRCH Dunn's Marsh Caleb of Waltona UDX3, OM3, RAE Canadian UD, RE
FallRiver's Micah of Waltona GN RAE, Canadian CD, RN
I have no experience with rings or showing (yet!) but I just wanted to say I'm sorry to hear of your stress and trouble. I'm sure you will get lots of good advice, and maybe some ideas.........
Lydia, take a break and let Murray just be a dog. Then, when you go back to the ring go strictly to make it a fun experience for Murray.. .don't worry about Q's or even finishing the course (agility). There must be something about YOU that is making the real thing different for him (if he performs well in practice and class). I know it's hard, but treat the real trial as practice only.
In fact, since you've already signed up and paid, I'd take him to the USDAA shows and just have pure fun with him. Try to make a small goal, like doing four obstacles in a row without losing his attention, and work your ass off by whooping it up and having fun with him for those four obstacles. If his attention goes bonky, just thank the judge and walk off with him. Let him know it's fun out on the course, but not so fun when you take him off the course.
I have several students who have dogs that won't stay with them, and our goals are always to just do a portion of the course having a really exciting time with it. We are seeing slow but steady improvement with both these dogs.
Can't give you much advice for the Obedience ring because you can't whoop it up and have fun in there
Another suggestion is have someone else run him for awhile, just for fun. Several folks in our agility club have other people run their dogs, even at trials, and the change seems to make a difference. The dog goes back to the original owner and seems to want to keep their attention on their owner more.
Hang in there and don't give up hope. Don't look at it as quitting, but as taking a well deserved break in order to regroup
Ideas are always welcome here.* ;D I've tried many things already but they aren't working so maybe you have some ideas I haven't tried.Originally Posted by agilityretrieversThankfully Murray is his happy self in training and outside the ring even on show day.* The change only happens once he steps foot in the ring.* I've not heard of this Oxyfresh product.* I did a quick internet search.* It looks like there are several different versions.* Which one are you using?* Where do you get it?* I'd be willing to give it a try for this weekend if I can find it.Originally Posted by Yellow Boys MomTracking is on the radar for us.* I had hoped to get a versatility title on Murray which requires obedience, agility and tracking.* The problem with tracking out here is that they only teach it on the weekends during show season.* I have to decide if we're going to train or show.* Even though I've decided to pull Murray from showing, my daughter is still showing so I still don't have any free weekends.*Originally Posted by Tatyana
I'm not sure I'd call this agility issue "stress.'* We've been doing agility for almost 3 years.* We train on Masters/Elite/Excellent level courses as well as the USDAA Finals courses for Nationals but we are only competing at a novice level (we have a bar knocking issue in competition but not in class* : )* These courses are EASY (ie no brainers) in comparison to what we run in class.* Now what he does in obedience is absolutely stress but what happens in obedience is different from what is happening in agility.* In agility he's just being a butt head which is why I know a good scruff shake will bring him back to reality.* How do I know?* Because once I reach the boiling point and finally scream at him, he gets back to the task at hand.* He's like a little kid.* OK...I can push mom 3 times before she snaps.* OK...I can push mom 4 times before she snaps.* Murray knows I can't touch him in the ring so he does what he wants until I finally blow a gasket. Unfortunately we don't have agility fun runs out here. If we did, I'd just drop back and punt...just run the fun runs where I could work on his attitude but I can't afford to spend $100/weekend to work on attitude.
I can pin point the agility problem to a specific incidence.* We went to Wags for Wishes last year where they had all sorts of dog events going on.* My friend gave me her lure coursing tickets so I let Murray lure course.* He LOVED it. Ever since then I believe he's looking for a lure out there on the agility course.* Luring is MUCH more fun to him.* He's gets to run flat out and chase something.*None of this jump, turn, weave crap.* The last agility trial we went to I set Murray up on the start line.* He wouldn't sit.* He started whining, straining forward, with his ears forward, staring intensely at the course.* When I released him he took off towards the middle of the ring and started running circles and sniffing one particular area.* I think one of the shadows looked like a lure to him.* : It's the only way to explain his behavior.* I think he's interested in the rocks/cones for the same reason. He's looking for the lure.