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Discussion Starter #1
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!)

Background info:

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!! :D

Any thoughts/insight? What would YOU do if these were your dogs/options?
 

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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!
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks guys!

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. :rolleyes: 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... :eek:

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...
 

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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.
 

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'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.
 

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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?
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hmm... so, I guess the plan could be to keep up with class for Peanut (advanced agility) because she IS improving with class and I think she'll be better once we get back into class that's more of a "station" set up. I think focusing on jumping so much just isn't helping her anxiety, she has a bad habit of thinking she's doing something wrong when she's asked to do it many times, and thinking she's wrong = stress for the min pin. :(

And then work on exposure for the Boo-man, try and hit as many matches and such as I can, forget about what the teenage employees at Petsmart think of me. :D

Thanks guys!

And thanks for the compliment on Peanut's coat, Linda! It's actually a VERY sized down horse blanket style, very warm and just perfect for what she needed. :)
 

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I go to the pet stores, too, and work--go-outs signals. Go to soccer games. Quiet parks. Do articles in a horse pasture with horse poop. Go-outs to the horse barn with their heads hanging out (you would think Caleb would have beautiful go-outs in the ring :p ). And, yes we smell differently, act differently even if we don't think we are merely due to the situation. Keep at it! It will come!
 

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I think he just needs to grow up a bit and get a whole lot more exposure, be it petsmart, or my fave training places...outside a movie theatre under the lights or at walmart in the parking lot, tennis courts rock too, cause they're fenced in ;) .

Ruby didn't get her CD until she was 3 years old. She has always been good at everything just not great, and though she'd never been a space cadet about the novice exercises, she'd never always done them as well as I wanted. We entered trials for experience, because we don't have a whole lot of matches around here either, just a few.

I would also recommend getting him into another class, even somewhere you wouldn't go otherwise, for exposure. Soon he'll realize that the rules apply everywhere.

He has a lot of potential, you'll be surprised in two years that you even had this problem.
 

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One thing you can do before entering an Obedience ring is to have your dog do stupid little tricks. The type of tricks are those that have been taught with no pressure and the dog really really likes to do them. Amber likes to do right and left circles on comand she also likes to do "touches" (nose to palm) and she loves it when I ask her to pick something up for me (water bottle, paper, cell phone, etc) These are things that I taught just for fun and there is no pressure and never has been a correction. Doing these things often makes other people smile or laugh and that helps ease everyones tension. I remember one of the first times in obedience I went into the ring and asked for a touch before we started and she was having trouble with the judge looking at her and couldn't focus on me. The judge said this is the heel on leash do you have a ny questions, so I started asking the judge a few questions about her experience and dogs and such. Amber suddenly didn't have any pressure on her from the judge looking at her and touched my hand, I gave her a quick pat and the Judge grinned at me and said I guess you are ready now. I said yep we are ready now. and we went on to work our way thru the exercises. My chat with the judge gave Amber enough time to relax with both the judge and me ignoring her. Talking to the judge in a friendly manner often convinces the dog that the judge is a friend, or at least OK.

Kelly and Amber
 

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I'd take Baloo to lots of shows but not go in the ring - bring his favorite treats, toys, do his favorite tricks, etc. Then go home. Did that with horse that had show ring anxiety - just schooled and left. It worked great :) One day we just showed instead of schooled. I would one day just keep playing with Baloo right into a Rally ring (where the novice courses are really just like games anyway!).

With Peanut I'd be happy to just take classes she enjoys and not worry about the ring if you think it stresses her out.

Sorry I don't have more insight - Jake I don't think even realizes he goes into a ring at a show LOL Although I think if it stressed him out and he was visibly unhappy we wouldn't do it (for instance he hates dog parks, so as much as I'd love to go we don't).
 

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Discussion Starter #18
(there are those two fun matches i emailed to you, by the way...

I saw that!

They're mid-week though, which is tough to swing with school... I may be able to work something out... :)

Jess he works really well at shows, everywhere BUT in the ring. It's crazy, I work with him for a few minutes before we go in, he's awesome, steps foot in the ring and it's like someone swapped dogs on me. :( SO weird because he loves being at shows and enjoys working in practice, etc. I really think fun matches are the way to go and figure out how to make the ring fun for him. I just wish there would be more of them around.
 

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I have had similar problems with both of my dogs in agility. Here is what I learned. I need to calm myself down before the trial. I focus on my dog and their enjoyment of what we are doing. I play with each dog. Down in the grass play. Getting them excited and happy before each and every run. I have them "jump for joy" before we are getting in the ring. I kiss them on their nose and tell them that I love them. It is our routine. I have had ring stewards say to me how great it is to see a happy dog go into the ring. I have seen very few if any people ever play with their dog before going into the ring. The play you see afterwards is not engaged play. Only a tug given to the dog with a distracted handler at the other end. I am engaged with my dogs outside the ring, inside the ring, and after my run. I am so engaged that if someone wants to talk to me about my run that I tell them after I take care of my dog. After play and engaging with them. It helps me show my gratitude for their partnership and their effort. In the ring I am encouraging and fun. If I notice that we are not having fun or my little aussie is having a fear reaction I will have her do an obstacle we love and celebrate on our way out the ring. We cut the run short. I love AKC trials. However, they are very rigid and seem to bring out that rigidness in me. My dogs are not perfect, I am not perfect. I have entered some other venues such as DOCNA and NADAC. Both which allow you to train in the ring if necessary. These have helped me with my positive attitude and have allowed me to fix problems as they arrise. I will always do AKC, but I will pick my shows more dilligently to avoid the stress that results from them.

As Linda said, we change in the ring. We become less animated and less focused on our dogs and more focused on ourselves. We can change for the better in the ring. Becoming more focused on the dog and more fun and engaging.

As for Peanut. Does she get excited to go to agility class? If indeed she does not like the jumping, it may not be for her. Agility is mostly about jumping, no matter which venue you enter. We also tend not to reward for the jumping. Dogs get rewarded on the contacts and through the weaves. Try rewarding for jumps. I give my dogs a verbal marker for a job well done. I say "yes". It means you are doing it right. Initially, like a clicker it is always paired with a reward. Now, it is randomly paired with a reward. The beauty of a marker word is that it allows the dog to know it is right gain confidence.

Good luck.
 
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