|Barked: Wed Sep 19, '12 10:39pm PST |
|I've had Farles in agility classes for ummm.. 19 weeks now, and I am STILL trying to teach him to relax in the classes. He loves other dogs and is great off-leash, and on-leash around calm dogs. But in agility, as soon as the dogs start running, barking, and making noise, he gets extremely overexcited and it is very hard to calm him down. (I run him HARD with the Chuckit in a field first, for at least 45 minutes before every class, which can be hit or miss- sometimes it helps but he's so high energy it sometimes doesn't make much of a difference at all).
As was stated, agility requires even more training and focus, ESPECIALLY for a highly-distracted dog. Having Farley sit or lay down as the other dogs are running around is his definition of TORTURE.
Some agility classes do require that all dogs be crated while a dog is doing a run, which is a great idea in my opinion. It would make it easier for highly-distracted dog to focus. However, things are not always as we'd wish them to be (dogs in Farley's agility classes are leashed while waiting for their turns, but never crated). So, when we are waiting for our turn, I put a good amount of space between him and the extra-distracting dogs (any loud, fast dog), and we work on having him focus on me instead of the other dogs. I let him offer the behavior of looking me in the eye, and then I mark that behavior and reward it. Reinforcing focus/eye contact on you with distractions around is a great way to allow that behavior to become more frequent. We also sit off to the side and play little games so he can keep busy and earn little rewards instead of focusing on the other dogs. He is still a little mouthy and howly but he has been getting better. I did try using a small dose of Melatonin before class to try and help him calm down a bit, but I didn't really notice a change with it.
Agility is a highly stimulating, loud, exciting environment, but if you have the patience and persistence to work your dog in that environment, it can be done. As suggested, Control Unleashed is a good book to pick up as it is especially useful for dogs that have trouble focusing on the task in overstimulating environments. Definitely pick up a copy if you can.
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