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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It's time to decide whether or not we continue agility training with Ben. We did an intro class and a beginners class, and the next one would be a continuation - with much the same small group of dogs plus two that are more advanced.

Ben loves going to class, but gets so excited when we get there that he is soon out of control. He'll take off and race around the room, grabbing cones or targets or his leash, not listening or paying the slightest attention to anyone. Sometimes he'll jump and bite us. Sometimes he'll try to jump the fence to play with the other dogs. At first his craziness was funny, but as week after week has gone by and we are still unable to get him to go through an hour without him going crazy several times, it has stopped being fun. We've tried doing runs with the leash on: we retain control, but he ends up knocking most of the jumps over. We've taken him out of the ring when he acts up. He doesnt' care, he had his fun. We've tried giving him treats after every jump so he'll have to pay attention to us - again that works, but then he is so focused on the food in hand that he doesn't even see the jumps or weaves, etc. In our intro class he wasn't bad until the end, when things got more complicated. In this last class, he's gotten worse and worse every week. I think he's learned to enjoy the zoomie time a lot more than the jumps.

I think it's time to give it a rest. Our teacher says we can continue, and just keep trying to find some way to get and keep his focus, but I feel that we aren't making any progress and aren't really learning anything useful so why should we waste class time on a dog that doesn't get the point? My husband feels that as long as the teacher doesn't say stay away, we should continue since a) Ben is having fun, and b) we may find a way to get through to him. I think my husband just enjoys watching the class clown, but I'm embarassed that we have so little control over him that we can't get through a single class without disrupting it.

Thoughts?
 

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They get it
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Have you tried wearing him out a little before class? Do they have a yard you could go out and throw a ball for him, like 100 times just to take the edge off before class?
 

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They get it
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How old is Ben?
 

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Tess and Liza
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I recognize your story about Ben a bit, Tess is also taking an agility class and she LOVES it...I keep her on the leash until it is our turn, and hope for the best once I let her go. What works for me, is calling her name when she is almost finished. She knows she gets a high value treat after completing the round, so once I get her attention, I am usually ok. Usually....:bowl:
 

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the party's crashing us
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You need an instructor who will teach you how to train your dog to focus his energy on agility, not to do agility in spite of it. What is your instructor suggesting?
Frankly he sounds like a dog who needs #1 a handler with a good sense of timing and firm control (every time -- every time -- he does zoomies or otherwise acts up, you are PRACTICING IT -- and dogs tend to ramp up the activity that gets practiced) and #2 he needs some sort of jackpot activity whether it's tug, tricks for treats, etc, to focus his energy and funnel it into something productive, not freewheeling nonsense. He sounds like a lot of dog who could probably be brilliant at agility with the right training.
 
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Kate
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Is there anyone in your area who offers privates?

It sounds like your self-confidence is rattled right now and it might be helpful to pick up a private lesson every couple weeks in addition to your regular classes? Or rent the floor somewhere every couple weeks so it's just you and your dog.

Dogs are yahoos sometimes. I've seen some well trained dogs who are perfect in regular classes who go into major league zoomies when they get to trials. Somebody I know was pretty embarrassed when she was kicked out of the rally ring because of her dog galloping around like a nut. These things happen. It can be worked out.

If your dog is zooming around every time he's off leash, then that means he isn't ready for off leash work yet.
 

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Barley & Mira's Mom
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You need an instructor who will teach you how to train your dog to focus his energy on agility, not to do agility in spite of it. What is your instructor suggesting?
Frankly he sounds like a dog who needs #1 a handler with a good sense of timing and firm control (every time -- every time -- he does zoomies or otherwise acts up, you are PRACTICING IT -- and dogs tend to ramp up the activity that gets practiced) and #2 he needs some sort of jackpot activity whether it's tug, tricks for treats, etc, to focus his energy and funnel it into something productive, not freewheeling nonsense. He sounds like a lot of dog who could probably be brilliant at agility with the right training.
What she said!!!!

Specifically: every time -- every time -- he does zoomies or otherwise acts up, you are PRACTICING IT -- and dogs tend to ramp up the activity that gets practiced

You need to find a way to stop allowing bad behavior to happen and start practicing good behavior, this may mean being on a leash... Practice obedience at home, at parks, everywhere. Working WITH you should be fun!

This also sounds very true: He sounds like a lot of dog who could probably be brilliant at agility with the right training.

Good luck, don't quit! HAVE FUN!
 

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Brady Aedan Finch and Wren
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Speaking from experience here, you need to work your obedience, you need to work with an agility trainer who does NOT subscribe to the leave the room/hide and let him worry theory (it does not work!) and you need to keep it fun for your dog. It is hard but the results - well, incredible.

Good luck.

PS: Giving it a break also did not work with my Casey - I really had to ramp up the obedience and the rewards. It can be done. I also broke courses done to 3 or 5 obstacles max (this for a dog running in Excellent) and rewarding. Tugging before a run - nope, I heeled him and did focus exercises.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Tiring him out didn't really work. We tried taking him for a long hike before class - and he was even more out of control. Kind of like the tired toddler throwing a tantrum. He doesn't fetch, so throwing balls wouldn't work. I agree that he's getting his reward by being allowed to run wild, and is learning that that is more fun than following us through the course.

The intro class had a lot of obedience work and very simple courses so he did well there. The beginning class has gotten more complicated with multiple jumps and tunnels - and he just freaks out. His obedience is mostly fine on leash - it's off leash that he goes nuts. As I said, it's gotten really embarrassing. Everybody has some problem with their dogs heading off track, but Ben does it almost every time.
 

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Barley & Mira's Mom
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Have you tried fading the leash? Let him drag a leash without you holding it or a long line with someone else holding it. It will knock over the bars, but it works pretty well. Then you can get a shorter leash and eventually a short tab...

It may be helpful to take a step back into the intro class. Can he do the intro class sequences off lead?
 

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They get it
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We'll figure out something, just don't give up. We have all been embarrassed by our dogs at one time or another.

My gut reaction is to back up and do some serious obedience work just to get him under control. If you continue to "allow" him to zoom (on purpose or not), as Anney said, you are inadvertently reinforcing the behavior. I know NOTHING about agility, but maybe just start with one jump and use a long line on him and get successful with one jump, then add a second, and so forth. Agility people...Do you think that would work?
 

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Barley & Mira's Mom
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Yes, I think that is a good plan! Sounds like things need to be simplified, can he go back into the Intro Class?
 

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Ben loves going to class, but gets so excited when we get there that he is soon out of control. He'll take off and race around the room, grabbing cones or targets or his leash, not listening or paying the slightest attention to anyone.
Roxy and I have "been there - done that". In our agility training arena, there is a table in the corner with irresistible fur dog toys. When we arrive, she heads for the table to check out the new toys. About half way through a practice course, she bolts for the table to grab a toy.

Our trainer suggested that we allow her to pick out one toy and use it as a reward. She went nuts over a rabbit fur ball on a rope. I have never seen her run so fast through the weave poles to get her tug toy reward. Breaking the course into segments and rewarding seems to work well.

I agree that holding Ben back and repeating the lower level course would be a good idea. Hang in there! It sure is rewarding to see Roxy give her all on the agility course.
 
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