Clean Run - August 2012 - 35

ate it if we all learned more about canine communication! If you observe one or more of the calming signals listed above in class, make a note of what could be causing the anxiety. Is there another dog too close to your dog? Is there a person/noise/piece of equipment nearby that your dog is not familiar with? Try to notice the smaller signs

and act on them so that your dog will not feel the need to escalate his behavior.You may be able to help your dog be less anxious simply by moving away from the “scary” thing to a distance where your dog is comfortable. If this is not possible, it is essential to work on behaviors that are incompatible with your dog having time to worry. Examples include hand touches,

leg weaves, and rolling over as well as the more traditional sits and downs (though remember that putting your dog in a down may make him feel more uncomfortable since the position can seem submissive to other dogs).You can then work on desensitizing your dog to the unfamiliar person or object outside of class so the problem hopefully does not recur in class.

Your dog should view you as a safety net, a safe haven; you want your dog to look to you when he needs help with a situation. We should not push our dogs into situations that are uncomfortable for them just because that is what the agility exercise requires. There is always another exercise, another week at training.Your relationship with your dog is paramount.

Five Tips for Avoiding Dog-on-Dog Conflicts in Class
u Allow space between dogs. Handlers should not stand bunched in the same corner of the training space out of habit; move around. u Do not allow your dog to stare at other dogs in class—other dogs can read this as a sign of confrontation. u Train your dog to lie on a mat or in a crate in all environments, then bring the mat/crate to agility class. u Teach your dog that when he is “parked” nothing exciting is going to happen. Quietly praise good behavior. Say hello to your friends before class starts, and then concentrate on your dog during the class.You can go for a coffee and chat after class when the dogs need a break.
Over-the-Top Dogs We all know dogs in agility that find it difficult to contain themselves in the agility environment. These are often herding breeds that instinctively want to control movement, and that find it incredibly frustrating they are prevented from doing so. These dog often lunge at the end of the lead, frequently at the sound of another handler’s release cue or the sound of another dog going through the tunnel. In the United Kingdom, where I teach, traditional advice for this problem is to teach a Watch Me behavior. While this behavior works well in some circumstances, it does not work when the handler is trying to concentrate on watching the instructor or a fellow classmate or learning a course. I believe Watch Me often fails in classes simply because of the amount of handler interaction required. We have found a more reliable behavior to teach our over-the-top hounds is a down on a mat or in a portable crate. The behavior is taught either through freeshaping or luring. The object (mat or crate) gives the dog a focus and is very portable so that it’s easy to take to class. The required behavior is incompatible with lunging and doesn’t require the handler to worry about maintaining eye contact with the dog. The handler is free to watch the class and listen to the instructor. Obviously the mat/crate behavior should be heavily reinforced in many different environments prior to use in an agility class. In our own classes we use carpet samples as training mats since they are inexpensive and easy to obtain from most carpet stores. Portable crates are also very popular for teaching selfcontrol to our over-the-top dogs. We recommend Susan Garrett’s Crate Games to our students as a resource for selfcontrol exercises with a crate/mat. Leslie McDevitt’s Control Unleashed books and DVDs also contain selfcontrol exercises. In Summary If handlers could be a little more aware of their dog’s signals I believe there would be far fewer dog-on-dog conflicts in and around agility. For dogs that are nervous or over the top we need to have management tools in place and offer alternatives to undesired behaviors. For those dogs that can remain calm in the agility environment we need to remember to praise their good behavior. It is easy to forget that group training does not suit every dog. In some cases one-to-one training should be considered as an option for a nervous or over-thetop dog. D References 1. Winkie Spiers, How to Handle Living With Your Dog, Short Stack Publishing. 2. Turid Rugaas, On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals, Dogwise.

Emma Francis teaches agility in Hampshire, England at her own agility club, Fun Dog Agility. Emma strongly believes in positive reinforcement being used as the primary training tool for all aspects of dog training—not just agility. Emma is addicted to learning about dogs and agility, and strives to find the best ways to motivate the people and dogs that come to her for training. Contact Emma via her website www.fundogagility.web.officelive.com. August 12 | Clean Run 35


http://www.fundogagility.web.officelive.com

Clean Run - August 2012

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

Clean Run - August 2012
Contents
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 - Clean Run - August 2012
Clean Run - August 2012 - 2
Clean Run - August 2012 - Contents
Clean Run - August 2012 - 4
Clean Run - August 2012 - Editorializing: On Insanity
Clean Run - August 2012 - Tip of the Month
Clean Run - August 2012 - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Clean Run - August 2012 - Backyard Dogs
Clean Run - August 2012 - 9
Clean Run - August 2012 - The Information Highway of Agility
Clean Run - August 2012 - 11
Clean Run - August 2012 - Analyze This!
Clean Run - August 2012 - 13
Clean Run - August 2012 - 14
Clean Run - August 2012 - 15
Clean Run - August 2012 - 16
Clean Run - August 2012 - 17
Clean Run - August 2012 - 18
Clean Run - August 2012 - 19
Clean Run - August 2012 - 20
Clean Run - August 2012 - Footwork for Agility: Rear Crosses
Clean Run - August 2012 - 22
Clean Run - August 2012 - Control Unleashed Solutions and Answers: The Bark Stops Here
Clean Run - August 2012 - 24
Clean Run - August 2012 - 25
Clean Run - August 2012 - 26
Clean Run - August 2012 - 27
Clean Run - August 2012 - Knowledge Equals Speed: Start-line Positioning & Lead-outs
Clean Run - August 2012 - 29
Clean Run - August 2012 - 30
Clean Run - August 2012 - 31
Clean Run - August 2012 - 32
Clean Run - August 2012 - 33
Clean Run - August 2012 - Waiting for Your Turn in Agility Class
Clean Run - August 2012 - 35
Clean Run - August 2012 - Agility Mind Gym: The Competition Mindset—Creating Power and Flow
Clean Run - August 2012 - 37
Clean Run - August 2012 - 38
Clean Run - August 2012 - Building Blocks: Weave Entries at Speed
Clean Run - August 2012 - 40
Clean Run - August 2012 - 41
Clean Run - August 2012 - 42
Clean Run - August 2012 - 43
Clean Run - August 2012 - From Hoof to Woof: What Riders Can Teach Handlers
Clean Run - August 2012 - 45
Clean Run - August 2012 - 46
Clean Run - August 2012 - 47
Clean Run - August 2012 - 48
Clean Run - August 2012 - 49
Clean Run - August 2012 - 50
Clean Run - August 2012 - 51
Clean Run - August 2012 - Seesaw Training: The Bang Game and the Pre-Bang Game
Clean Run - August 2012 - 53
Clean Run - August 2012 - 54
Clean Run - August 2012 - 55
Clean Run - August 2012 - 56
Clean Run - August 2012 - 57
Clean Run - August 2012 - 58
Clean Run - August 2012 - 59
Clean Run - August 2012 - 60
Clean Run - August 2012 - 61
Clean Run - August 2012 - But He’s Perfect at Home
Clean Run - August 2012 - 63
Clean Run - August 2012 - 64
Clean Run - August 2012 - 65
Clean Run - August 2012 - 66
Clean Run - August 2012 - 67
Clean Run - August 2012 - 68
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