My dog never did that before! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 01:40 AM Thread Starter
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My dog never did that before!

We participated in a "mock trial" last Sunday just to practice doing the BH in front of a lot of people... and it was bad. I mean, we passed according to the judge, but it was not good... not what Freyja is capable of doing. To my standards, it was a disaster.

She basically could not focus on me... seemed quite nervous and out of sorts. She got better toward the end of the routine, but she blew TWO exercises... first, she stood during the sit out of motion (! I haven't even taught her to do that), and then during the recall, she 'forgot' to sit in front of me and did a finish at full speed, looking quite pleased with herself.

It was like I had another dog.

At that point, I just shrugged and laughed. It was truly horrible.

One mistake I made was not to play/tease prior to entering the field... my bad, I didn't know. It was also rainy and very windy.

The killer is that an hour later, the group broke for lunch so I went and did the routine again, just to get a good routine done before going home. The sun was out by then. It was pretty close to perfect... I have video to prove it.

Anyone have any stories like this? I need a little assurance that this has happened to other people. At this point, I'm a little scared that the same thing will happen next weekend when I have the REAL trial.

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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 02:03 AM
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Re: My dog never did that before!

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Quote:It was like I had another dog.
Yeah and for her it was like she had another handler.

When people are nervous they look totally differnt to the dog than normal. You listed all the things that happen most often to nervous handlers. Your voice was probably different than what it is normally leaving her to wonder what that was you said during the sit out of motion. Most dogs forget to sit when they are mesmerized by the nerves of the handler. Practice keeping your voice and your body language the same as it is in training. You are going to have to try to stay focused or she won't be able to either. Your dog is a mirror of you. Your nerves are affecting her, it is that simple. Just relax and try to slow down to an easy 70 mph vs 120.

It's just a BH...it's just a BH ...it's just a BH


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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 05:03 AM
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Re: My dog never did that before!

I'm sorry you had a bad experience

I think the advice Anne gave you was great. Dogs (especially the GSD in my opinion) are quite sensitive to your mood and body language. I've been there myself. We've never done a trial or anything, but we've had some big problems when I've been walking her. And I realised that everytime she acts up when we're out, it's because I've tensed up or got nervous or uncomfortable (I have high-functioning autism and social situations are quite difficult for me) and I think she really picks up on all of that. The trouble is, is that it's a vicious circle, because the more she acts up, the more frustrated I get which just makes her worse

My advice would be to just relax and have fun with it. Just write it off, forget and move on - dogs really do live in the moment, I doubt Freyja is worrying about it and neither should you

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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 06:13 AM
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Re: My dog never did that before!

Nat~

That happens to A LOT of handlers! So your not alone.. Our nerves, like Anne said can sometimes do funny things to the dog..

That's why I take each trial, training session as a learning experience to improve my skills.. What I might need to work on or not!!

Definitely get her up in drive before you step onto the field!!

Good luck with the Bh.. I'm sure you two will do just fine!








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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 08:46 AM
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Re: My dog never did that before!

Hey, sounds like Freya and you were chanelling OUR BH!!!

That is not bad, for a BH, but of course, it irks to know that your dog can dog better! Keeta pretty much did the same things - and I needed three commands for the recall, and I know it is because my voice was cracking, I was so nervous


I'm not even going to mention the humiliatingly disastrous attempt at our first TR1 . . . . but, we learn, at my second attempt, I only entered Keeta to make sure that we had enough dogs to round out a full trial, and it didn't really matter to me how we did, well, she did the best track out there that day! I'm sure the change in my attitude of not caring that much, just doing it for the experience and to help out the club made a big difference in how she responded.

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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 10:39 AM
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Re: My dog never did that before!

I guess I didn't answer the question Nat asked. Yes, everyone has that happen in one form or another, if they haven't, maybe they are part fish with no nerve endings.
I was so nervous my first trial, I came down with a bad case of the dreaded wurlies. You know when you are so nervous you get light headed and think you might faint? Yep.
It messes up the communication you have with your dog when you are nervous. For them, it is like trying to listen to a radio thru that static that your nerves are causing. Also, even for people who don't get really nervous, there is a distraction factor that comes into play when there are lots of people around. I still have to make a point to get around groups of people when I train to work on that distraction factor, not only for the dog but for me.

I don't know what to tell people as far as how to control nerves. It just seems to go away after a few trials and with confidence but I think believing that your dog can do it and realizing that everyone watching would be in the same boat as you if they were out on the field might help. I can't recall watching a trial and hearing people hoping someone wouldn't do well. All of the spectators seem to sit on the edge of their seats pulling for the people out on the field, so, the crowd is really nothing I would be concerned about.

While you can't give handler help without losing points, I think it is very important to try to be the same person the dog sees in training. I have seen people go into a trial and change everything they normally do. Mostly, they look like they joined the military. Their posture becomes very tense, they never look at their dog, they shout the commands, forget to praise between exercises and the dog stands their wondering what is the matter with them. When people are nervous their heart rate increases, the tone of their voice changes, ( that's a biggie), and all the subtle things they normally do as the handler just goes away. Also, to the dog, nervous can look an awful lot like angry. People who lose their temper in training really pay the price if they get nervous in a trial. All dogs have seen their handlers get angry at some point, so that can also play into things a bit as well . Maybe practicing saying the commands on the way to the trial will help. Try to keep your voice the same as it is in training.

When I played sports I remember being able to hear the spectators the first few minutes of the game. After that, the noise just faded away because I was concentrating so hard on playing. So, concentrate on the dog and you and let the crowd fade out. The only time they matter is when they applaud after you pass.

Oh, and if you have video of both obedience routines you did on Sunday, maybe watch them both and see if you notice the difference in you, not just the dog.


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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 11:17 AM
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Re: My dog never did that before!

Oh yes, it happens to us all. My first time trialing a dog (in obedience) I was so nervous I thought my legs were going to collapse. My dog heeled three feet behind me (at least it felt that far) when we did the off lead pattern. We passed, but it was very ugly.

I know what Anne means when she talks about going into a zone so you don't hear or notice the crowd. Funny, I can do that in a trial, but am still very aware of people when training.

I have learned to channel my nerves into energy, at least in obedience. It attracts my dogs and makes then higher, flashier and faster. Many people get into a trial and they walk slower, become boring, talk funny, are distracted so their dogs follow suit. Learn to channel your nerves the right way.

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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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Re: My dog never did that before!

You know, I was thinking over this last night and I wasn't really nervous (like voice shaking, etc.) because I don't really get performance anxiety... but my mood was decidedly different... I was distracted at first, and then when she wasn't focused I was getting frustrated.

I think after I stopped caring because it'd been so bad, she did a lot better and other than her fumbling the recall (which she had NEVER done before), she had a great attitude.

The judge did say it's clear she loves to work. So that was one positive LOL.

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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 11:35 AM
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Re: My dog never did that before!

LOL... I would bet that anyone who says they have NOT had this happen to them would be lying!!! Cody and I did his BH almost a year and a half ago, he was a goofy 18mth old and I had had usual ups and downs in training. I was most worried about his sit-in-motion as in training he would occasionally think it was optional to sit and wait for me to come back and he would bolt off running around the field like a crazy puppy. We had worked on this and worked on it and on the video you can hear my TD say "if she gets passed this, they got it".. LOL.. of course Cody was PERFECT in the sit-in-motion but his heeling was akward, because I WAS AKWARD! I have never walked the way I did in his BH; like Anne said "military style"... the judge even made a mention of it...

So I would not worry about it, try to get to different places, different fields, around different people and train. Think "this is the trial" and do everything like you would do trial day. This gives YOU more confidence, your dog already has the confidence, she just becomes worried because you are nervous and worried!

No worries, she will pass and everything will be just fine!!

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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 03-24-2009, 12:01 PM
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Re: My dog never did that before!

Quote:
Quote: You know, I was thinking over this last night and I wasn't really nervous (like voice shaking, etc.) because I don't really get performance anxiety... but my mood was decidedly different... I was distracted at first, and then when she wasn't focused I was getting frustrated.
I think if someone followed us around all day with a video camera we might be able to comprehend just what amazing creatures of habit we are. The dogs see the things we do that proceed the other things we do. They aren't watching the TV, the computer and all the other stuff we use to distract ourselves, all they do is watch and listen to us. Therefore, they become more in tune with our behaviors than we are! They learn to recognize the tiniest little change in our moods and behavior. Some people think dogs can actually read our minds and while maybe that is possible, I think it is more a change we show in our body language when we are thinking about doing something.
When I work dogs as the helper, I mimic moods by thinking it and my body reacts to my thoughts. It is something that most people cannot see but the dogs sure do. The people are left wondering why their dogs react differently to me than other helpers and that is what it is. So, you have to become very aware of what your mood or demeanor is in training and keep that attitude consistent in the trial. If you can do that, your dog will look like she does in training....which can be bad or good ...depending on the training.


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