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Hi everyone,

So we're over half-way through our second level of agility training with Obie. He will be 15 months at the beginning of November, and is intact.

Obie and I started agility back in January of this year, and his focus and drive were really strong. He was only 5 months at that time, and it was a gentler puppy agility class that we were working on.

We went away for the summer, and we were able to work independently (no other dogs around) on private agility equipment for most of the summer on occasion. Obie was able to gain confidence on the teeter and practice the weave poles, the two main obstacles in level 2. We were also able to practice the basics (tunnels, low-jumps, tire, etc) quite frequently. He knows the equipment well.

When we started level 2 in September, I noticed a significant difference in him in the ring around the other dogs. He was completely uninterested in listening to me, including recalls, and he became slightly obsessive over visiting them when no longer on leash... I don't mean aggressively, but he would (and still does) follow this one dog around the ring and try and lick him 'down there'. This other dog is a much more submissive, neutered male. He finds way of zooming through the tunnel and then quickly sneaking past me to run to this other dog. It has become so predictable when he is going to do it, that myself, the two trainers, an the handler of the other dog prepare ourselves everytime he gains distance from me.

I have tried strong stinky high-value treats to regain his attention, ones that make him go crazy at home, but when we're in the ring, I lose his focus completely. When he starts to get out of control, we go on leash and practice obedience/sit-stays at the edge of the ring for about 5-7 minutes or so. On leash - he is an angel - well, other than the slightly annoyed look he gives because he really would rather go after the other dog, but he DOES listen. What I find bizarre is that sometimes he won't even eat the food (um, hello food driven dog, where did you GO?) yet everyone else\s dog in class would LOVE some of what I've got (except my own).... After the refocus, he usually works for a couple more minutes but then we go through the whole cycle again when he finds an opportunity to bolt at the other dog.

In our last class, he looked upset that I wouldn't let him go, and when I put in him a lead up/sit-stay before we run the course, and gave him the ok, he just sat there with his ears down. It made me think of a kid being forced to play a sport that they didn't want to play, and the look broke my heart. "Mom, this isn't fun if you don't let me do what I want"

In addition, his marking on walks is getting much more frequent. I try and work up to a light jog just to keep him at a good pace and help him forget about sniffing and marking everything upright he passes by. For the most part, it works, but still can be frustrating when a leisurely pace is preferred once and a while.

So we have gone ahead and booked a neuter appointment with the vet. Nov 9th. Our classes end the week before, so we will take some time away from agility for a bit.

I guess we won't really know until after the neuter - but in the wide knowledge of opinion and experience here at GRF, will this help with his focus?? He used to LOVE doing agility, and I love taking him. But if it's not fun because he would rather being doing something else, am I doing this more for me and not him???

I'm conflicted on this one...
 

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I guess we won't really know until after the neuter - but in the wide knowledge of opinion and experience here at GRF, will this help with his focus?? He used to LOVE doing agility, and I love taking him. But if it's not fun because he would rather being doing something else, am I doing this more for me and not him???

I'm conflicted on this one...
I think it will probably help. I don't think it will totally solve the problem, but I think it will take one of the extenuating factors out of play. He's at an age where he's realizing that he has those parts and *I* do think it makes a difference. But I have girls, so what do I know?

Take a couple of months off to let the hormones get out of his system and try another class. It may be that he is just simply fixated on that particular dog. If so, see if you can take a different class and see what happens.
 

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Thanks for such a quick response.

What would encourage an intact male to fixate on a neutered male's bits? I have heard of this before, and seen it a couple times now with Obie. Only certain males, though, not all.

Once he heals from the neuter, I would like to work on recall sessions with our trainer. I've already phoned and discussed it with her, but I think instead of pushing forward with the equipment in agility, I want to develop his recall and help train him to ignore the distractions .
 

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Thanks for such a quick response.

What would encourage an intact male to fixate on a neutered male's bits? I have heard of this before, and seen it a couple times now with Obie. Only certain males, though, not all.

Once he heals from the neuter, I would like to work on recall sessions with our trainer. I've already phoned and discussed it with her, but I think instead of pushing forward with the equipment in agility, I want to develop his recall and help train him to ignore the distractions .
I have no idea why this particular dog's parts are more interesting.

I think it's a great idea to work on focus and obedience for awhile before continuing with agility. You won't regret that decision ever!
 

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What would encourage an intact male to fixate on a neutered male's bits? I have heard of this before, and seen it a couple times now with Obie. Only certain males, though, not all.
.
wish I knew, mine was quite the licker of boys. It's a pretty embarrassing trait! It was suggested by several people that it could have been something in the urine. And that makes sense because he would ALWAYS try to get a lick in right after a dog would mark.
 

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wish I knew, mine was quite the licker of boys. It's a pretty embarrassing trait! It was suggested by several people that it could have been something in the urine. And that makes sense because he would ALWAYS try to get a lick in right after a dog would mark.
YES it is very embarrassing! :doh:
 

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Kate
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Neutering might help...

But every boy dog I've had (including the neutered collie) is obsessed with checking each other out, grooming friends, and marking. So if your dog has already "learned" the behaviors, it might not stop. Especially if it is all about play and communication vs hormones.

One thing you might want to do after you get back into classes is check into obedience classes? Somewhere where he would be on leash and working or playing with you, and learning to focus better around distractions.

He needs to learn that when he's out on the floor he is working and can't interact with other dogs. And you need to prevent that from happening by not allowing any socializing while on the floor. And the socializing even ringside needs to be monitored and kept under control. Simply so he's not thinking "PLAY PLAY" when he's sees his buddies.

With my guy he's allowed to visit with people and dogs, but when he starts trying to jump on people (or stick his nose somewhere impolite) or tries checking out the other dogs, I'm hauling him back in and settling him down. <- This is ringside. I would NEVER let him visit with another dog when out on the floor.

Good luck<:
 

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Charlotte
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I've never dealt with the "licking the parts problem", Jess is neutered, but as far as lack of focus and apparent disinterest, we've been going through the same thing in our present session which is advanced agility.
Jess wandered around visiting every man and dog, totally ignoring me.I was just about ready to call it quits on agility.
I stepped up the obedience drills at home, did a lot of the "nothing in life is free" principles. And guess what.....he is a changed boy at agility. Listens, comes "here", and generally seems to be enjoying it.
He is now 20 months old, so maybe maturity is a big factor.
Hope you can work out your problems. I do think agility is good training for a lot of other situations.
We have an rule in our class. If one of the dogs "breaks free' the nearest person grabs them and returns them to their owner so that they realize it is not a place to play.
 

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wish I knew, mine was quite the licker of boys. It's a pretty embarrassing trait! It was suggested by several people that it could have been something in the urine. And that makes sense because he would ALWAYS try to get a lick in right after a dog would mark.
Does Flip still do this now that he is neutered?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for sharing your experiences, folks.
It sounds to me that working on obedience in general might be a great idea. Including his recall. At least until he matures a little more, then we can try agility again.

As for the neuter, we've wanted to do it anyway, but I was only curious to know if it would help solve part of the problem. It sounds like the answer is - maybe. I guess we'll see how it goes.

Going to start concentrating on obedience at home while we finish up the class over the next two weeks. Thanks for the advice!
 
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