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Keeping a dog calm at trials

Running, catching, leaping; this is the forum to discuss dog sports and agility training with other active pups!

  
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Shadow- *CGC*CL2*CL3- *

Is it time for- agility yet?
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 26, '13 3:46pm PST 
How do you keep your dogs calm at trials?

Shadow and I have been showing in agility for a little while now. We are trialing in a large AKC trial this weekend and he is really stressed out when he is in his crate(usually has no issues with it). I have been keeping him with me except while walking courses and while that doesn't complete eliminate the problem it does help a lot. I have a thundershirt but forgot it on Fri so I'm going to try it tomorrow. He is used to the smaller trials(We do mostly CPE) and does well in his crate at those, but I know AKC can be a high stress trial venue plus we are in a huge indoor dirt arena with tons of dogs and people.

He also refuses to use the bathroom while we are there which bothers me when we're there around 8 hours. I'll walk him for a half hour to an hr and he will not go. When we get home he acts like he's going to explode. He usually doesn't like using the bathroom in new places but he will if we're there long enough.

We are supposed to be showing at this venue again in a month so I want to make him more comfortable for the next time. One day in the next trial he will be in the office area part of the arena though which I'm sure will help. Any help or advice would be great!
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Bosley

Will Work For- Food
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 26, '13 9:58pm PST 
Others may have some better suggestions but I would keep his crate covered so he cannot see the commotion that is going on around him. You could also try some DAP or rescue remedy - I know people who have much success with that.
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Bosley

Will Work For- Food
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 26, '13 9:58pm PST 
Others may have some better suggestions but I would keep his crate covered so he cannot see the commotion that is going on around him. You could also try some DAP or rescue remedy - I know people who have much success with that.
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ATCH Tika RA- CL3

Mine?
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 26, '13 11:54pm PST 
Definitely cover the crate and if you can bring a small fan that you can attach or set outside the crate to make some "white noise" so the sounds from the outside are a bit less.

I would also try a ThunderShirt or other type of wrap (or even a regular t-shirt pulled tight around the dog's body) as that can help with trial stress. My girls are pretty good about trials...but my boy tends to amp himself up if left to his own devices if I bring him (I usually am away from the set-up a lot helping out) - he gets a covered crate, a fan, and his shirt and he does really well. Granted we did a lot of building up to this and I didn't try it first weekend out - there were about 5 sessions at home before taking the leap to see how he did at the trial. Yes, he still will burst out of crate wiggling when I get back to him, but overall I would say that his behavior is noticeably calmer and he is much easier to deal with at trials.
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Rio, CGC,- RL1, CL1, TD

You can't say- that i can't- play!
 
 
Barked: Sun Jan 27, '13 9:09pm PST 
In addition to the things mentioned previously (DAP, Thundershirt, covering the crate, etc). You may find it valuable to work on teaching a "settle on a mat" behavior--this is MORE than just go to a mat and lay down.

This is about building true relaxation. You start with getting a down on the mat but then you reward for signs of relaxation -- the dog flipping on its hip, the dog sighing/yawning, the dog slowly blinking, the dog putting its head down, the dog rolling on its side, or the dog resting.

If you can get relaxation on that mat at home, you can then try to bring that relaxation mat to slightly more exciting environments and eventually to the trial environment. This work won't help the stress when you leave but it will help the overal arousal/stress level during the event. After a lot of work on relaxation, Rio can relax out of his crate even when dogs tugging near him or running in the ring... this photo was snapped during our last trial. We were about 15ft from the ring, right by the entrance/exit gate so tons of dogs warming up or running out of the ring for cookies!

Rio at a trial
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Addie CL1- CL2 CL3 NAJ

if it moves,- I'll chase it!
 
 
Barked: Mon Jan 28, '13 7:52am PST 
Addie was a nervous reck when we first started out ( sometimes our running she still is.. lol) but in the crate shes learned to settle down great. I over her crate with a large blanket and throw in some comfy bedding ( only after I tested with something like a towel to make sure she wouldnt rip it apart). I started out taking her kong, filling it the night before with peanut butter and/or canned food, freezing it, and sticking it in our cooler and giving it to her in the crate once I got everything set up. That really helped. Also, my first trial I sat right next to the crate and lifted up just enough of blanket so she could see me and fed her treats when she was quiet. Everytime I got up to leave I put mroe peanut butter in the kong. Now I only have to do it once when we first arrive smile
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Shadow- *CGC*CL2*CL3- *

Is it time for- agility yet?
 
 
Barked: Mon Jan 28, '13 12:45pm PST 
Thanks for all of the advice. I will be getting some fabric to cover his crate with and see if that helps. I'm also ordering some rescue remedy and DAP. The next trials are going to be small trials and hopefully that will help him learn to be calm at trials. I think just having such a big crowd with huge amounts of dogs was just too stressful for a dog that is just getting used to the trial environment.
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Czarka, CGC- UJJ

Why walk when- you can run?
 
 
Barked: Mon Jan 28, '13 1:34pm PST 
BTW... how is YOUR stress level at trial. You may be contributing to ramping up your pup. Make sure you both get there with time to relax and sip your latte wink
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Addie CL1- CL2 CL3 NAJ

if it moves,- I'll chase it!
 
 
Barked: Mon Jan 28, '13 1:36pm PST 
I think Shadow will get use to it just fine smile If Addie can do it, he can LOL laugh out loud I was super thrilled with my ADD OCD dog that she was calm enough and able to focus to Q in two of our 3 runs first trial! I thought for sure she'd be spooked and run off, or do the zoomies and that was it.

Just keep up with it. Smaller places that you frequent will help too. I've noticed with Addie when we go to a new venue shes a bit more on edge, while on her ' home turf' trial place, she is relaxed and does great.. darn dogs wink Just keep playing around with different ideas. Good luck!! smile

Edited by author Mon Jan 28, '13 1:37pm PST

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Shadow- *CGC*CL2*CL3- *

Is it time for- agility yet?
 
 
Barked: Mon Jan 28, '13 3:00pm PST 
On Friday I was a little stressed when I first got there but calmed down a little after walking around. After his jumpers run (he ran off to visit everyone and sniff which is not like him at all) on Sunday I got pretty stressed about it since he did really well on Friday(he Qd in both JWW and Std with really nice runs). Everyone was stressed on Sunday and I think he definitely picked up on that too.

I ordered something like rescue remedy but cheaper and some DAP type spray so hopefully that will help with the next trial, and am picking up some fabric to cover his crate with tonight or tomorrow. I also dropped him down to only one day(were doing 2 days with one day in between to give him a break) in the next trial at the same venue we were at this past weekend so I don't get him too stressed.

He does much better at the club we take agility classes at. We took all of our obedience classes there and he's a demo dog for the obedience class I help teach so I know that really helps that he has fun while he is there. He has a trial there in March so I hope that goes well.
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