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Several months ago we took Connor to his Puppy 2 training class. The first session went fine and he seemed to enjoy it and learned a lot. However, the next 2 classes Connor immediately began hyper-salivating upon walking into the training room with the other dogs (12 or so). Plus, he would not eat a treat. Both times we assumed he was reacting to something environmental like a cleaning solution or air fragrance. Once we got him outside the hyper-salivating stopped and he was back to his old silly, happy self and eating treats. We stopped going to that class because we thought it was the facility.

So, last week we took Connor to his first agility class at a different facility and the exact same thing happened - lots of salivation and refusal to eat treats. This time we stuck with it the entire class and after about 30 minutes the hyper-salivation ended and we were able to get him to do some of the simple agility exercises. He still did not want treats however.

Has anyone ever heard of this kind of reaction? Could it be a stress reaction to being around so many dogs? Can you think of anything that might explain this? Any ideas or insight is really appreciated.

We want him to be social and have fun, but it's really disconcerting to see him go through this every time he goes to class.
 

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where the tails wag
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It does sound like stress to me .. what works for some dogs is going to the class but not participating - just working outside the training area slowly moving closer and closer to the activity.

It might take a few classes or a few rotations, but most dogs can start working in a crowded environment sooner or later.

A few notes would be
1) Do not coddle Connor but keep him at the distance he can function in, slowly moving closer
2) Ask for behaviours he knows (like sit)
3) Try to see if he'll play tug

ask the instructor if you can practise the exercises after class after the other dogs have left.

Connor cannot learn while he is under that much stress/excitement so if you want to train him, you will need to teach him how to handle the excitement, scents and sounds of a busy class. It takes a while but can be so worth it! If he can focus on you, he can ignore the other dogs.

Good luck :)
 

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I believe it's sensory overload, especially smell. He is pulling scents across his membranes so fast he begins to hypersalivate. The overload of smells makes him not interested in treats.
Try stinkier treats, see if that helps. Try to motivate him with a toy.
It does NOT mean he's having a bad experience. It's really really common in dogs that come to the pet hotel and go out in the yard and sniff around for a while. The owners freak out, we see it all the time.
Enjoy agility, it's loads of fun!
 

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I was going to say sounds like stress. Sunrise had some good ideas. I agree to talk with the instructor. I do like that he settled on his own. Once he realizes this is fun it should help. Like Barb said too stinkier more enticing treats might help, but maybe he isn't food driven? My Teddi loves treats but she is more toy driven. To get her attention I have her favorite squeaky toy, we do the exercise, play with the toy then get a treat. She did have some anxiety over agility at first, she didn't understand what was being asked of her. Now she is loving it as she is really starting to understand the game. It helps her BFF is in her class. These two (Teddi and an Aussie name Rita) just want to PARTY!!!

Give it time and be SURE you don't 'worry' about or coddle Connor. If you worry he will sense that and it won't help. If you coddle, you confirm the non desirable behavior.

Good luck! Agility is fun Connor will figure it out! Take it S L O W
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for all the insight! He has class tonight and we'll try everything mentioned. Can you recommend a really smelly treat?
 

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where the tails wag
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Meatballs !!!! LOL
Or if you don't mind the mess, liverwurst.
 

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Old Gold is the Best Gold
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Only two things I have seen make a dog act that way- fear, something spooked him and the situation reminds him of it- or a bitch in season in the building. I'm going to guess it's the first option.
 

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It's probably stress or excitement. Focus on learning how to work and on practicing your basics. Just keep him calm and watch exercises together, get a sit or something else basic out of him when you feel you can.

Don't introduce stressful equipment while the salivating is happening. You're lucky that your dog is giving you a very clear sign of his emotion that switches on and off. He's telling you how he's feeling, so respond to it.

Don't coddle, use a high voice, or add any stressful stimuli while he's drooling. Just relax and help him understand that everything is safe and normal. "No big deal" should be your attitude.

Jax is a little like that for the first few minutes of a group session. We just focus on learning that pulling at the leash doesn't work and that sitting is calm and fun. Once he has the hang of being a spectator, we move towards actual new learning.
 

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Thanks, Tippy. You're awesome!
You should have seen Jax learning to honor while the "big dogs" were working with obedience articles. He knows "fetch" really well, but he doesn't understand the idea of watching another dog fetch at all. We spent an hour just working on honoring other dogs' work. On one level, it's frustrating that you can't work on your planned activities. On another, you know you're developing self control and even-temperedness for the long term.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Last night was Connor's 2nd agility class and he did so well! We got there a little early so he could have time to acclimate and settle down. This time he did not hyper-salivate and really enjoyed his treats. He had several successful runs through the open-ended tunnel and immediately mastered the lowest jump, and walked over the A-frame several times without hesitation. He (we) had a really good time. Thanks to everyone for your suggestions - it made all the difference in the world!

The only remaining problem with the class happens to be of the human kind. A woman in our class with a beautiful Bernese Mountain dog thinks she and her pup are God's gift to agility. Every time Connor would hesitate or not go through the tunnel she would sigh and exclaim how we were holding up the line and throwing off her dog's rhythm. Then she tried several times to butt in line ahead of me and Connor. It was so rude and irritating. I thought we were all there to have fun and support one another. Geez!
 

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Glad to hear it went well and you had a good time.
I think there's *one of those* in every class! In one of our first agility classes we had *one of those* with a terv....and her husband who followed them around, video taping every move they made. And GLARING at us if anyone should DARE to get between him and his wife, just because we were taking our turn!!!


Last night was Connor's 2nd agility class and he did so well! We got there a little early so he could have time to acclimate and settle down. This time he did not hyper-salivate and really enjoyed his treats. He had several successful runs through the open-ended tunnel and immediately mastered the lowest jump, and walked over the A-frame several times without hesitation. He (we) had a really good time. Thanks to everyone for your suggestions - it made all the difference in the world!

The only remaining problem with the class happens to be of the human kind. A woman in our class with a beautiful Bernese Mountain dog thinks she and her pup are God's gift to agility. Every time Connor would hesitate or not go through the tunnel she would sigh and exclaim how we were holding up the line and throwing off her dog's rhythm. Then she tried several times to butt in line ahead of me and Connor. It was so rude and irritating. I thought we were all there to have fun and support one another. Geez!
 

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Glad it went well. Don't worry the day will come when "gods gift" has trouble, and I hope you are there so you can either decide to behave with decorum that she obviously does not have, or you can act her way and show her how it feels! Either way is find with me.

I agree there is one in every class. You should see the one who shows up at my class on occasion. :eek: :doh:
 
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