Clean Run - August 2012 - (Page 34)

Some people take agility classes to have a night out with their dog; some to build confidence in fearful dogs, and others to “work” their dog. All of these reasons for doing agility are perfectly valid and a positive step toward responsible dog ownership. But in our eagerness to learn and practice handling skills in class, we sometimes forget the needs of our dogs in the highly arousing, and often stressful, agility environment. This can lead to potential problems for all but the most well-balanced dogs as well as dog-on-dog conflicts. Waiting for Your Turn in Agility Class By Emma Francis The aim of this article is to give you tips for taking care of your dog while waiting for your turn to run in class, and avoiding conflict with other dogs. I have outlined plans for three types of dogs but there is never a one-size-fits-all solution in dog training.You’ll need to see what works for your dog, asking your trainer or a behaviorist for help if you need it. Relaxed Dogs In our agility classes we use a “park” position for our relaxed dogs. The dogs are on leash with the owner holding on to the handle. The dogs are free to stand, lie down, or sit—whichever 34 position is more comfortable for them. While they are waiting for their turn to run, the dogs are verbally praised and intermittently stroked with long, relaxing strokes (in our classes, we use the TTouch stroke called Noah’s March). The dogs are relatively relaxed and comfortable, and are unable to jump up at people or other dogs. They are receiving positive feedback that their behavior is good. They are not having the constant stimulation of being asked to perform tricks or other coping behaviors that so many people have to employ with their dogs. If you have this kind of dog you should be proud and keep on praising your dog. It is easy to forget to reward calmness, but it is something we definitely should not take for granted. Nervous Dogs Agility is well known for building confidence in nervous dogs. But to build that confidence we need to find ways for our nervous dogs to thrive if seem uncomfortable in the agility environment. First we need to learn to recognize the signs of stress, which are best remembered by the 4 Fs: fight, flight, freeze, or fiddle about1. Obviously the first F— fight—is well recognized both in and out of agility situations as something we would like to avoid. To avoid fighting we need to be aware of the more subtle signs from the “fiddle about” category. Fiddle-about behaviors include calming signals, a growing group of behaviors initially reported by Turid Rugaas. If we take note of these calming signals we improve communication with our dogs, helping to prevent conflicts from occurring. Common calming signals include tongue flicks, yawning, sniffing the ground, and looking away from the source of anxiety2. I think I can safely say that our dogs would really appreciClean Run | August 12

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - August 2012

Clean Run - August 2012
Editorializing: On Insanity
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
The Information Highway of Agility
Analyze This!
Footwork for Agility: Rear Crosses
Control Unleashed Solutions and Answers: The Bark Stops Here
Knowledge Equals Speed: Start-line Positioning & Lead-outs
Waiting for Your Turn in Agility Class
Agility Mind Gym: The Competition Mindset—Creating Power and Flow
Building Blocks: Weave Entries at Speed
From Hoof to Woof: What Riders Can Teach Handlers
Seesaw Training: The Bang Game and the Pre-Bang Game
But He’s Perfect at Home

Clean Run - August 2012