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Hi there,

Just wondering if anyone has done any agility with their retriever and whether anyone has any experience of, or advice on young stubborn males and jumping up.

I do weekly beginner agility training with my 3 year old male retriever. Sometimes he is great, picks it up immediately and completes a course without any hassle.

Other times he decides he doesn't want to be told what to do and will run off and sniff around. When you catch him and pull him away he then starts jumping up, mouthing and trying to hump me and is really difficult to get off!

He knows all the basic commands and could easily do more difficult courses if only he kept concentrating rather than stopping to follow his nose....

Our agility trainer seems to think that he doesn't like being challenged and shows his annoyance of having being stopped from following his scent by trying to jump up and dominate me. He also shows the same behaviour when you take the training toy away from him when he doesn't want you to.

Funny thing is he never shows any of this at home and is the perfect family dog both in the house and out on walks and aside from this weekly training hasn't jumped up at home since he was a puppy.

However this may be because he is used to his daily routine of long walks and lounging around the house and doesn't have anything to dislike about it!

If anyone has any experience with this, or any ideas for small daily training exercises to keep him on his toes and maybe get his brain in gear more often that would be great.

Also if anyone has any good ideas on the best way to deal with the jumping up, mouthing and humping it would be much appreciated! (I currently turn my back on him and wait for him to finish and lie down which he always does after a couple of mins)

Many thanks in advance.
 

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Tracer, Rumor & Cady
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gahhhhh... he is stressed over threshold!
sniffing - common calming signal used when dogs are trying to calm themselves or calm those around them...
mouthing - humping - jumping all pretty darn common signals of over stimulation
Adding that when you turn your back and remove the pressure he calms down.

JMHO - dump the dominance - slow down, go back a step or two in either distance, duration or level of distraction

How often and how long are your training sessions between classes?
 

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I agree with Liberty, he is stressed. Different dogs show stress in different ways, some dogs stress down (the shut down), some dogs stress up like your boy, and some dogs stress away by avoiding their handler. You need to work on being the most exciting thing in the ring. Keep it simple and happy and don't ask for more than your dog can give you.
 

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This is unrelated to the OT, but I just wanted to thank you both, LibertyME and Selli-Belle. Those posts were wonderful. I never thought to consider sniffing to be a sign of stress. Thank you so much!!
 

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I agree, it sounds like stress.
I would highly recommend the book "Control Unleashed" It's a great tool to have in your training toolbox!
 

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Hi there,

...Our agility trainer seems to think that he doesn't like being challenged and shows his annoyance of having being stopped from following his scent by trying to jump up and dominate me. He also shows the same behaviour when you take the training toy away from him when he doesn't want you to...
Wrong. Your dog probably doesn't understand what you are asking him to do, you are giving him wrong signals and he gets confused, or he needs to run off excess energy and excitement. Get to class early and let RUN, or take him somewhere before class to do that, I bet it will make a difference in his focus on you.

My little black dog would constantly run off across the agility field for the first few months. It was not about challenge, annoyance, or dominance. It was me, I was just learning, I wasn't clear on what I wanted her to do, so she didn't focus on me. (Plus it's a way fun open field in the country for any dog to explore.) My instructor could run her on the same course with no stops and no losing her attention.

Do not blame the dog, or place judgments on him like he is dominant or challenging. You are just not communicating well enough yet what you want him to do. Patience, practice, and make it fun for him. NEVER correct or punish him for going of course.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Many thanks for the replies. I shall take all on board. I have to admit stress certainly wasn't something I had thought of - as we train in a horse arena I had assumed the days horse poo scents were what the sniffing was all about!
 

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We ended up giving up on Agility because Ben would go crazy and just run around, stealing cones or something else and racing around like a maniac. It was hilarious to watch, but also frustrating. He did fine on the simple exercises, but when it got more complicated, with multiple obstacles, he got confused. Once he found he could get a laugh and have fun by racing around, he stopped paying attention to us completely.

When we first got Ben he would do the jumping up and biting or humping thing when he got frustrated, usually when we were trying to train him not to pull on the leash by stopping and reversing direction. We stopped the jumping/biting by either spraying him with water or rattling pennies in a tin. He never did learn not to pull.
 

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My little black dog would constantly run off across the agility field for the first few months. It was not about challenge, annoyance, or dominance. It was me, I was just learning, I wasn't clear on what I wanted her to do, so she didn't focus on me. (Plus it's a way fun open field in the country for any dog to explore.) My instructor could run her on the same course with no stops and no losing her attention.
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How does that work? Every agility class in my area requires a 100% recall around distractions. I get the feeling the class will have my head if my dog runs off. Are they really more forgiving than that?
 

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How does that work? Every agility class in my area requires a 100% recall around distractions. I get the feeling the class will have my head if my dog runs off. Are they really more forgiving than that?
I wish Ben had 100% recall; I'd say he's got about 25% around distractions. Our class didn't require anything, and the teacher never told us to stop going to class, but I felt it wasn't fair to the rest of the class to spend so much time dealing with Ben's behavior. Our class was for fun, not serious competitors, at least not at the levels we were doing.
 

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I wish Ben had 100% recall; I'd say he's got about 25% around distractions. Our class didn't require anything, and the teacher never told us to stop going to class, but I felt it wasn't fair to the rest of the class to spend so much time dealing with Ben's behavior. Our class was for fun, not serious competitors, at least not at the levels we were doing.
Aw, I wish we had a class like yours. It would be fun.
 
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