Clean Run - August 2012 - 65

There is nothing wrong with initially teaching the behaviors in a sterile environment, but it is critical to start to road test the behaviors with simple distractions early on.

What Do Operating Rooms, Libraries, and Agility Classes Have In Common?
Operating rooms, libraries, and agility classes are quiet, highly-controlled environments. I use the term “sterile” to describe them, meaning they are free of distractions and disruptions. While it is perfectly fine for operating rooms and libraries to be sterile environments, it is a mistake for agility classes or home training to be sterile! There is nothing wrong with initially teaching the behaviors in a sterile environment, but it is critical to start to road test the behaviors with simple distractions early on. You can add distractions simply by making the classroom environment less sterile. Go to the extra effort to make classes or home training more trial-like in energy and distractions. I love to play loud music and get people laughing and moving about in classes, as well as having other dogs out and moving, playing, warming up, etc. If there is a distraction on the ground, I will leave it there and teach the dog to ignore it rather than remove the distraction from the environment. I love it when people bring food to eat at class—and not just because I love to eat—the food provides a fabulous distraction and breathes life into the class atmosphere. If the dogs are all doing well in the party-class environment, you can make the class atmosphere even more triallike by having people serve as judges, act as gate stewards, do conga lines behind the dog at the start line, cheer

wildly while the dog is on course, tempt the dog with treats, do the wave while the dog is weaving, and so on. (Yes, I really have done all this—and more—in my regular classes.) Keep the creativity flowing and you can teach the dogs to stay focused and on-task, regardless of the circus-like environment you create. And always remember to build the dog’s behavior through reinforcement—don’t ignore the dog’s success! Many agility enthusiasts don’t have access to classes and train in their own home or yard. But you can make this home environment less sterile by adding distractions such as toys on the ground, food bags tossed about, other dogs milling about or barking, or anything that changes the environment. As with any distraction training, start off with low-level distractions and keep increasing them or changing them throughout your training.
© aGIlITY unIVerSITY

not execute or reproduce the correct behaviors—this is a self-control issue that must be addressed in training. By trying to keep these highly aroused dogs calm and work them in a sterile environment, you are actually doing the dogs a disservice by avoiding the arousal and setting them up for failure in the competition ring. Embrace the arousal and train through it, so the dogs can stay focused on the game even when their heads are exploding from excitement. My goal in adding distractions and creating a trial-like atmosphere is to make the training environment so exciting and wild that the trial ring will seem quiet, calm, and sterile by comparison. It is also fun to have high-energy training sessions, which get the dog and handler into the groove for high-energy trial runs.

Perfect? Bad Idea
Finally, remember that you are working with a dog as your teammate, not a computer or machine. Sometimes dogs make mistakes, although they make fewer mistakes in the agility ring than the handlers do! “Perfect” is not a good description of behavior, nor is it an achievable goal. Seeking perfection is the surest path to failure and disappointment. Be sure to set reasonable expectations for yourself and your dog. Excellence is reasonable and achievable with good training, while perfection is not. Remember to be a student of your dog’s behavior, both in training and in competition. If your dog is struggling, embrace the questions he is asking and create a training plan to give him the answers. D

Another way to add excitement and make the training environment less like a quiet wine and cheese party is to get the dog as aroused as possible before and during training. Some dogs get so aroused at trials that they can-

Tracy Sklenar is the training director at Leader of the Pack (www.lotp.com) in Smyrna, New York, and on the faculty of Agility University (www.agility-u.com). Tracy specializes in positive, motivational techniques for all dogs. Competing throughout North America and in Europe, both with her own dogs and as a coach, she has had multiple placements and wins at Regional and National events, as well as medals at international events with teams she has managed/coached. Tracy shares her life with six dogs: Pierce and Samson (Dalmatians), Rebound (Rat Terrier), Export (BC/JRT mix), Matrix (BC/SBT mix), and Crusher (Papillon). Contact her at agilitydals@yahoo.com. August 12 | Clean Run 65


http://www.lotp.com http://www.agility-u.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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