I'm not sure what my next step should be, so tell me what you would do if you were me. (long, grab a coffee or something, LOL!)
Baloo is freakin' awesome at obedience related activities, and I mean awesome. At home he heels beautifully, can seriously do most of the stuff for open really well (aside from DOR, haven't touched that one yet *in case* we ever make it into the novice ring, don't want him to DOR there!) BUT, he sucks in the ring, consistently. It's like he's lost in space. I don't know if he's stressed or just over stimulated, but he does not have fun. Won't listen to me, throws displacement behaviours like it's going out of style. Will not heel at all, not even a little bit, leans on the leash like crazy. He can do most of the exercises fine (SFE, Recall, stays), but the heeling in between is atrocious. *sigh* But again, he's wicked awesome at home and at Marie's (our trainer), he's like a different dog, I don't get it. If he worked at a show like he does at home/Marie's people would stop and stare with mouths agape, he's that good.
Peanut has been in agility training since the summer, she's doing really well. She's in a jumpworks class right now that neither of us are loving (all jumping, all the time... *yawn*!) She struggles with confidence issues and I don't think I can expect her to ever be comfortable with any kind of significant working space. I honestly highly doubt she'll ever be a really competitive little dog, which makes me sad, because physically she could rock the socks off any agility course, she just doesn't have "it" mentally, you know? She likes agility, but I think she likes it more because she likes the one-on-one time with me more than the actual activity. I'm also planning on working with her to be able to go into the rally ring in the spring/summer. She's so focused on me that show settings don't bother her a bit, unlike her wandering-attention brother.
So I'm trying to decide what to do with classes next session.
Here are my options:
1. Put Peanut in the next level of agility (either "advanced" or "focusing on contact obstacles", but if that's as fun as jumpworks, no thanks) knowing that she will likely never be a highly competitive little dog (which is really what these classes are geared towards) but hope that she starts to really like it and gain self confidence, work on rally stuff on the side.
2. Put Baloo in Novice class. Problem I see with this is that I know he will do everything dang-near perfect at Marie's. He KNOWS this stuff cold, he has been through four sessions already learning it (foundation stuff, etc). So I would basically be paying a not-insignificant amount of money to drive up there once a week just for some one-on-one time with Boo. *Maybe* I could find a different venue to train at, but I really like Marie, and do I want to do a whole session with a stranger just to get him some exposure to a different facility? Would that even help his ring issues, do you think?
3. Put Peanut in Rally Novice class, even though I feel confident that I can teach her the vast majority of the stuff myself. Give her a bit of a break from agility, as I mentioned she's been in class every week siince the summer...
4. Put Baloo in agility, which would mean doing jumpworks AGAIN. I think I'd have more fun in it with him as he's refreshingly confident, but I worry about him doing all that jumping being not yet two and the mats are kind of slippery in there, might be better to wait until they move outside in spring for that stuff.
I really don't know what to do. I do want to do some showing this year but I'm lost with what to do with Baloo. He just doesn't seem to enjoy being in the ring at all most of the time, which makes me wonder why I'm bothering, you know? It's the same with Rally as well. Part of me wants to just put him back in agility (even though we've never shown in that so it could be the same old story) and say screw obedience/rally but he's just so dang GOOD at it, ugh. If he sucked and withdrew at home/Marie's as bad as he does while showing this would be such an easy decision.
So, I want to maximize the usefulness/enjoyment factors with regard to which classes to take, for both myself and the dogs. And I'm stumped.
If you made it this far you get a BIG blue ribbon, HIT even!!
Any thoughts/insight? What would YOU do if these were your dogs/options?
Baloo - 5 year old black lab
Peanut - 7 year old minpin
Monster - 3-ish year old frenchie/jack, rescue
Well, I grabbed some cookies and read the whole thing - in part because I want people to read my long posts about my dogs in obedience too It's really hard when you have a dog that does great in training and class, and then falls apart in the ring. I have that right now with Emilu. In her case, she also knows the stuff really well (although her heeling is never that great), and does well in class (until she's surrounded by a lot of dogs, or new dogs come into the room, than she starts to shut down). If you want to get Baloo in the show ring, then you'll need to work on ring confidence. I'm going to do this by taking Emilu to matches and show-n-goes. I've never been one to go to shows that don't count for titling because of time and cost, but I'm desparate now..I'm also going to drop her back to Novice and see if that helps. (she's NQ'd in Open 4 times now because she freezes in the ring) Does Baloo's class have many other dogs in it? Is it very open, noisy and/or crowded? I needed to take Emilu from our small, almost private classes to a club over 70 mile away so she could work around other dogs. As for Peanut - I'm not at all knowledgible about agility - and am never sure what people mean by "confidence" in the agility ring. I think a Rally class would be good , because even though you can teach her everything at home, again, it's the "in the ring" stuff that gets alot of dogs and what they need practice in. Don't do any class that you and your dog find boring, unless you really, really need it for something else - it's not worth your time or money for you and your dog to be bored. Good luck to you guys, - whatever you do with your dogs is better than what you would do without them!
Can't give you much advise as Ruger does the same thing, he's brilliant at home, in practice, in other locations, but in the ring he sux big time. It's very frustrating and I truly am about to throw in the towel on ever getting a UD on him. We do have one leg, so I know he can do it, but WHEN will he do it again. Arrrggghhh.
Baloo is still young. Give him a lot more show experience and it will come. And yes, take him to a lot of different venues to practice!!!
My dogs don't like jumpers either. Remington gets excited when we start, as soon as he realizes there is no fun stuff (tunnels, A-frame, Teeter) he zones out. It's boring to him.
Has Baloo competed in Rally yet? If not, I'd definitely start him there and work up thru Excellent level and then move on to CD competition. This is my plan with my little ADD "Special Needs" boy, Remington We've got our RA, and he's no way near ready to do Excellent, so we will stay in Rally Adv B for a while yet.
Good luck with whatever you decide.
I don't know how much you take him other places to train but I do a lot of that. I will stop at a park, go to my friend's horse farm. Dogs are situational so you have to train in lots of places.
Then, I have to consider if I am nervous or something that is throwing my dog off in the ring.
UCDX GRCH Dunn's Marsh Caleb of Waltona UDX3, OM3, RAE Canadian UD, RE
FallRiver's Micah of Waltona GN RAE, Canadian CD, RN
Pat - I have considered matches and the like, the only thing is that there isn't a heck of a lot of them around, and being new to the game I'm bad at really using matches for what they're intended to be for, you know? I still feel like we have to "perform" when really I should be focused on trying to train in the ring, which is what he needs. I rush through it to get it over with which doesn't help anything, argh.
Linda - He has competed in rally, has his novice done, but I fear taking him into any ring off leash, due to the space-cadet attitude he gets, whether it's rally, OB, whatever. I've been sticking to pre-novice because it's not all that hard, you can talk to them and whatnot (and they're on leash!), I figured it would be a good confidence builder for both of us. I'm sure it's mostly me, but I'm not sure how to fix it. I know in theory, but I feel like thats what I've been trying to do and it's not working.
Susan - I do take him to various places to train, the only place he sucks at is pet stores, but there's so much going on there I really can't blame him. That and I'm a little worried they'll start to refer to me as the crazy dog lady that marches up and down the aisles with her dog and never buys anything...
It's odd that my being nervous would throw him off in the ring, as he's not a sensitive dog by any stretch of the imagination. Hmmm...
Baloo - 5 year old black lab
Peanut - 7 year old minpin
Monster - 3-ish year old frenchie/jack, rescue
Kate, when you are nervous you act differently, you even SMELL differently to the dog. Even if you don't think you are that nervous, the dogs really do pick up on it.
A lot of old timer obedience folks swear by sucking on a peppermint candy before going into the ring as it helps to mask some of the nervous smell your dog picks up on.
Oh, and BTW, I love Peanut's little coat!!!
'I'm a little worried they'll start to refer to me as the crazy dog lady that marches up and down the aisles with her dog and never buys anything'
I wouldn't worry about that Kate. You aren't the only one. Petsmart, Petco, It's a Pet's Life, whatever. I meet lots of people here that do the exact same thing. Particularly on rainiy, or cold windy days. The dogs, HK included, need some exercise. Behaving in a distracting indoor environment is a great one. I also used it to test (reinforce) behavior in distracting environments.
Hershey Kisses, In charge of getting Ed out to the dog park so that he gets some exercise.
Kate, I wouldn't throw in the towel just yet with the BooMan with regards to obedience/rally. I have seen him work and it's beautiful, when he's focused. He gives you fabulous attention and really does heel like a dream!!
I really think that he's still young and just needs more ring experience... whether it be fun matches or real ones. I also think that he may be picking up on your nervous/frustrated vibes, at least more than you think he is.
I was lucky with Henry, getting such a late start... he was 3 before we started doing rally competitively and 4 before we started doing obedience competitively, so he had already pretty much lost his puppy brain. It was just replaced with a monkey one which commands him to carry out hijinx in the ring. lol.
Have you thought about doing CARO rally or fun matches where you can use food? Maybe get a bunch of those under his belt so that you both feel more comfy in the ring before going formal again?
Going to different DISTRACTING places I think will really help. Start slow and ask for little at first. For example, this summer/fall I took Kodi to the local school grounds when there was a game going on. In the beginning, I asked her to just hold heads up type attention for a few seconds as the marching band went by. We set up our 'ring' (I only have 4 sections of gating) and did many run thrus while people walked by. When the marching band went back by, I was asking for sit stays while I was "kinda" out of sight.
I have practiced right next to a tennis court with the balls hitting the fence right next to Belle. I go into Petco several times and do the obedience exercises, sometimes right next to the cages of cats (humane society adoption thing...being sure none of the cats had dog issues). I do out of sights in the pet store right next to bins of food.
The idea though is to start slow and increase not only the level of distraction, but what you are asking for.
Karen and the gang
BBI Kodi's Journey To Anotch (Journey)
BBI Kodi's Blackpowder Striker (Flint)