Clean Run - December 2012 - (Page 38)

Solutions and Answers – The Overexcited Spectator By Leslie McDevitt MLA, CPDT, CDBC, photos by Kibrion Photography ® As we are entering the ring in class or trials, my Briard gets excited watching the dog ahead of us doing the last few obstacles and leaving the ring. It is really hard to get her focused for her run, and most of our setup time in the ring is taken up with me trying to calm her down. I have tried “watch me,” “leave it,” and hand touches, but she’s just too excited about the other dog, and I also can’t reward her in the ring. She really loves agility, but it’s difficult to be successful when we start our runs so disjointed. This is a really common problem, and one that I wrote about in Control Unleashed: The Puppy Program. The most recent dog I helped with this problem was a Doberman that I’m going to call Scoop. Since we can control the class environment better than the trial environment, and we can easily set up the dog for success, working on this problem always starts in class—whether or not the dog actually exhibits the same behaviors there. Even if the dog doesn’t exhibit the same level of excitement in practice, you can still set up your “template” for what it will look like to enter the trial ring. Practice makes perfect! So don’t feel like you can only work on this problem in the heat of the moment at a trial. As the dog improves in class, you can start introducing modifications so that you can customize your basic template to use at a trial. You are creating a new set of habitual behaviors for entering a “work space.” Remember, it takes time to break an old habit and replace it with a new one. You can also anticipate that there may be some backtracking, especially when the dog is under pressure—your dog could be like a former chain smoker who smokes just one cigarette when she’s stressed at work. 38 Like your Briard, Scoop got too excited to think as the other dog exited the work space, both at class and at trials. Fortunately he already had the foundation CU behaviors that I have found useful for this problem—all he had to do was learn he could use those behaviors in this new context. Go to Place Lots of people teach a Go to Place behavior where the dog goes to a mat, bed, or crate (any specific location) on cue and stays there (hopefully) until released. In CU we work on creating a conditioned emotional response to the mat—the dog should feel safe and relaxed while on the mat. Once we create that response we can then use the mat to elicit the emotions associated with it in locations that would otherwise bother or excite the dog. We use massage on the mats and do the Take a Breath behavior, where the dog is rewarded for flaring his nostrils as he inhales. We do desensitization work while the dog is lying on the mat, exposing him to triggers such as other dogs, but making sure the dog is under threshold—meaning, the dog is not at the point at which he would react by barking, etc., and he is able to remain relatively relaxed in his spot. Clean Run | December 12

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

Clean Run - December 2012
Table of Contents
Editorializing: All Roads
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
From Hoof to Woof: What Riders Can Teach Handlers: Identify Patterns to Gain Perspective
Challenges for Rising Stars
Power Paws Skills: Front Crosses
Agility Mind Gym: Full Circle
Training a Deaf Dog to Go the Distance
Awesome Paws Drills
Does Gender Matter When Choosing an Agility Dog?
Control Unleashed Solutions and Answers: The Overexcited Spectator
10 Games to Play with Dogs That Are Recovering from an Injury
Gait Analysis Helps Diagnose Early Lameness & Improve Performance
The F-Word: Building Resiliency to Failure!
Training with the Stars: Maureen Waldron
Building Blocks: Developing Solutions for Agility Problems
Being a Good Student, Part 2

Clean Run - December 2012