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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all, It's been awhile since I've been here. I wondered if anyone has been in my shoes cause I feel I'm not alone. We know agility amps our dogs but seeking suggestions on teaching good impulse control in this setting, esp when our dogs are asked to work among others in a class setting. Keeping their focus & control on you, no whining, barking, etc. Sure you get good responses at home but our dogs lose it at class.

In my years of owning GSDs, I find you're always hit with something. You try your best but at times feel lost & like you have no control. I currently now have an 9 month old puppy with high drive & losing his focus in a agility class but fairly good in obed class. He's a whiner. 8/ The more he amps, the more he whines & I'm seeking ways to deal with this? 8/////

I practice constantly impulse control at home. If he's amped to get out of his crate, loading in & out of car, etc with whines, I wait him out to release. I find this has become a hard one in a agility setting, even getting in & out of class with other dogs excitement. Mainly whining but will on occasion blurt out a bark. I know I need the control & focus, but overwhelmed at the moment. 8/

He's only my 2nd GSD training as a pup to do show type stuff.

So, while I know young, I'm hoping to get him where he can be balanced & not so jacked all the time if possible.

Thanks for any suggestions, help, links, ect!

PS. Crating is not always an option & imo, they need to learn control working & watching others. It's been a real hard one for me with my older girl too!

Thank ya......
 

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What do you think about going to a class just to sit on the sidelines and observe?Do whatever it takes to get your dog to relax for a few minutes,then a short walk outside,back ringside to relax,repeat.
 

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I started this with him some before putting him in agility class. He was great, laid right out on the course, clicked & treated for watching me, not 1 whine from him. It seems we hit this age thing maybe? Maybe the arousal of all dogs moving in class, their energy? We're into only class 4 of his own classes & found this super amps him. 8(
Even getting into the building. Trying to work his attention, etc but....... that's why I decided to post. 8/ Thanks
 

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I have the same problem but in a different venue.

IF he doesn't give me what I'm asking I've put him back in the car before and tried again. It's been a long long battle with lots and lots of patience but it's paying off.

He's learned he doesn't get to work until he's quiet.
 

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Well hopefully someone will chime in with a solution that worked for them.None of my dogs are super high drive so I'm no help at all:)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yeah, in agility class I don't have that option to put him away. I found also in obed class when in a down beside me & he would whine, a few times I popped & released with a correction sayin, no quite (he knows speak & quiet difference) but found he would whine & as I looked down to correct, he would be looking up so I now feel this was giving him attention. 8/ So been mixed on correcting vs ignoring in obed class?

With agility he so amped that I try to keep him engaged with moving, focus work, play, tricks, but he still whines, gets a tad better as class goes on but does. I totally feel like a big class distraction plus an ass of an out out control GSD. 8/

You like the drive but ya *need* that balance!
 

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I've been there! Still sort of there! :p

For some dogs, just laying there watching might work. For others, this will just make it worse as they get more and more frustrated watching the other dogs. With a dog that tends to over-arouse in the agility environment, you also don't want to teach them to stare at other dogs doing agility.

Regarding crating not being an option, it really needs to be an option. Dogs need downtime to relax and decompress, rather than always being "on" during the whole class. With a dog like this (and I have one) it is must easier to manage if you can do your turn, then put the dog back in his crate to relax. Preferably the crate will be covered will be covered, or in a car or quiet room away from the action.

Second option would be bringing a small bed or mat for the dog to lay on, but this won't allow their mind to really have a break as much as a crate.

Also working on the dog's entrance behavior. i.e. he needs to be calm and not pulling to get into the training space. This can be frustrating and take a long time, but once it starts to click it will become much easier as the dog knows the expectation. You can also break it up into accepting small steps of walking quietly, bust out the tug and tug him the rest of the way in there. Same thing on the way to starting an exercise. No pulling or barking to the startline. And this is where a crate really helps again, because if the pulling/barking is just out of control, sorry dog you lost your turn, back in the crate. This really helped my crazy guy.

You'll also need your instructor on board with this. As well as understanding that for a while, you might be paying for agility classes but not getting the opportunity to actually do much agility if you're not getting the calm behavior that you want. I had to do that for a while too. Sucks to feel like wasting money like that, but it does pay off in the long run.

Sorry for the long response, but that is really what it takes with this issue. No quick fix, just lots of patience and consistency that being a nutcase does not earn the opportunity to do agility.

Your other option is to be like Silvia Trkman and not care at all and just let the dog be a nutcase. Haha.
 

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Another thing since you're doing obedience-

With my crazy nutcase we took a break from agility and went to competition obedience for a while. This was actually a great thing and has increased his control. Lots of work with focus, control, and eye contact for what he wants. These behaviors also need to be worked under arousal, teaching the dog how to think while super-aroused. Easy enough for us to practice since all it really takes to send him through the roof is a toy. He can now do a focused heel into an agility space, which was one of my goals.

I will say that Shade Whitesel's drives & control online classes at Fenzi Academy were a huge part of this. She does a lot of work with crazy-type GSDs and I got more good out of her than anybody else.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hey there, thank you & NO problem with your reply, I would rather a long reply, than NO reply! 8)

Good points! He is not allowed to pull me! I just would like the whining & excitement under control, you feel overwhelmed with an unruly dog. 8/ I thought about no agility for him but also feel, how's he to learn if I do not do with him? 8/
 

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Btw, at Fenzi what course did you take & did you do, bronze, silver, or gold? Since he's 9 months, was unsure which course to try if I do. Control with the crazy canine sounds fitting. 8/
 

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Oh yes, I know this problem too!
Our situation was quite similar to yours - took her to the agility hall when she was younger and she was fine watching the other dogs. But as soon as she started training it all went downhill from there...:rolleyes:

We started training when she was about 8 months old (in a group with two other dogs).
She was fine when it was her turn, but she had problems watching the other dogs work. It started with whining but she went to barking pretty soon.

That's when I took a bottle of water with me for the next few trainings and every time she "went crazy" she got a shower. It really impressed her - she tried again for two or three times, got a shower each time and that was it.
She's still pretty amped watching the other dogs in her group or at trials, but at least she's not barking anymore.
I have to add that she has a ball to chew one while the other dogs run, so she has an alternative to the barking (she had one before the waterbottle thing as well, but didn't take it because she'd rather bark :p).

But it's ok the way she behaves now. She can be amped and excited watching other dogs on the course, but she watches quietly (sometimes with some whining, but I'm fine with that) while chewing the toy. I can live with that! ;o)
 

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I sympathize. Ohhhh how I sympathize! We're going through this with agility and herding right now, she's almost 8 months old.

We've been intentionally getting to our classes/lessons 45 minutes early so we can practice entrance behavior. If she makes crazy anticipation noises, we go back into the car and try again. Like your dog, she was totally silent until a few lessons in, now she loves both activities SO MUCH her excitement is intense. When she is actually running a course, or working sheep, she's silent. Not a peep. It's the waiting that gets us.

Besides entrance practice (over - and over), she has to lie down while other dogs are running. If she's sitting or standing, she has a harder time staying composed. We also practice the "watch me" eye contact command, with increasing difficulty.... Asking her to watch my eyes while I swing her "crack ball" (on a rope) around, or maintain eye contact while I bob up and down, etc. We probably look odd to spectators, but it helps her focus on me and not worry about the other dog in her beloved tunnel. All of the other dogs/breeds in our current agility class are lower drive, more mellow individuals that let their attention wander/snoop around for food when they're waiting (instead of quivering with excitement). At herding, where there are generally higher drive, focused, intense workers, lots of people crate out of sight in their vehicles until it's time for their turn. I don't want my dog to be the only screamer.... So, we do our weird little dance moves at agility, and get there plenty early.

I also keep reminding myself that she's still a puppy, she loves (LOVES!) doing these things, and we have time to phase out the anticipatory whistles. :)
 

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I sympathize. Ohhhh how I sympathize! We're going through this with agility and herding right now, she's almost 8 months old.

We've been intentionally getting to our classes/lessons 45 minutes early so we can practice entrance behavior. If she makes crazy anticipation noises, we go back into the car and try again. Like your dog, she was totally silent until a few lessons in, now she loves both activities SO MUCH her excitement is intense. When she is actually running a course, or working sheep, she's silent. Not a peep. It's the waiting that gets us.

Besides entrance practice (over - and over), she has to lie down while other dogs are running. If she's sitting or standing, she has a harder time staying composed. We also practice the "watch me" eye contact command, with increasing difficulty.... Asking her to watch my eyes while I swing her "crack ball" (on a rope) around, or maintain eye contact while I bob up and down, etc. We probably look odd to spectators, but it helps her focus on me and not worry about the other dog in her beloved tunnel. All of the other dogs/breeds in our current agility class are lower drive, more mellow individuals that let their attention wander/snoop around for food when they're waiting (instead of quivering with excitement). At herding, where there are generally higher drive, focused, intense workers, lots of people crate out of sight in their vehicles until it's time for their turn. I don't want my dog to be the only screamer.... So, we do our weird little dance moves at agility, and get there plenty early.

I also keep reminding myself that she's still a puppy, she loves (LOVES!) doing these things, and we have time to phase out the anticipatory whistles. :)

We used the "truck" method with Paisley as well (also for herding). In fact, we still use that method when someone decides herding is a single dog vs a "team" sport ;)

We practiced many times having her platz at the gate before going in. We did obedience in an empty arena. We did all that with stock in the arena. I also used to take her out for a quick game of fetch at the facility before even trying to get near the arena to drain the surface energy off.
 

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Btw, at Fenzi what course did you take & did you do, bronze, silver, or gold? Since he's 9 months, was unsure which course to try if I do. Control with the crazy canine sounds fitting. 8/
I did Shade's fundamentals courses, Drives and Control 1 and Drives and Control 2. I've only done Bronze level since I'm okay learning on my own. It would definitely be valuable to do Gold level and get feedback, especially if you don't want to spend the time wading through all the other posts to find advice that might apply to your dog. I just didn't want to pay that much, haha. And I don't think Silver is worth paying for since you don't get feedback on your own dog, and there are lurker groups on Facebook where you can share videos and have other students try to help.

There is also an Impulse Control for Agility Dogs class by Nancy Gagliardi but I haven't taken that one yet. You can always email the instructors to see if they think their class would help you or recommend a different one.

Arousal and agility can be super tough to balance. Because we do want them aroused and excited while doing agility! It can also be tough to battle because we are creating a conditioned emotional response to agility. Essentially the dogs are being classically conditioned to be excited and aroused around agility things. And with classical conditioning, the dog's response is rather involuntary and harder to change. Especially if we actually want them excited in the first place.

Just some brief blah blah about the science of arousal and overexcitement around agility.

For now I think you could just work on being very consistent that quiet = play, whining/barking = back to the crate or waiting area or whatever. Lots of work on focus and eye contact for lots of rewards.

Try to find other areas where you can practice this concept. Like with my dog, swimming gets him to that same over-aroused squealy whiny state so it's just another opportunity to practice quiet and control = swim, being crazy = no swim. Things like that.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for all your replies! I know it's going to take time, patience, & being consistent. A part of me says, take the lead, correct, & make him listen & part of me says, set him up for success. It's easier to get to class early but leaving is hard, tight quarters & people/dogs coming (we're the first class) in. I really work his impulse control all the time. Hoping it's a hurdle we can overcome & why I was reaching out for suggestions. The water bottle could be an option but hmmmm, hoping he will get it for being rewarded for the calm in class. Not sure but I guess I'll have to figure out a plan about the whining during class if I chose to keep him in one. 8/

I thank you again......
 

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He's learned he doesn't get to work until he's quiet.

As in quiet "quiet"....none of that whiny high pitched whistling kind of sound..... but never loud. Kind of like a " I'm trying my best to contain myself but I'm dying here wanting to get into the action" sound?


SuperG
 

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As in quiet "quiet"....none of that whiny high pitched whistling kind of sound..... but never loud. Kind of like a " I'm trying my best to contain myself but I'm dying here wanting to get into the action" sound?


SuperG
Yeah, that quiet...I can't tolerate any of it because I have a give me an inch and take a mile dog. So we don't allow any leaking at all, it's been a battle but we're finally making strides.
 

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Well.......hmmmm, not sure we will get that quiet but I sure wish he would! 8/ I tried the squirt bottle on him this week. It seemed to work some. Was definitely better than the week before. He amps but I find working him at home he whines slightly when trying to figure something out, he tries, tries, & well some whines. 8/
 

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Well.......hmmmm, not sure we will get that quiet but I sure wish he would! 8/ I tried the squirt bottle on him this week. It seemed to work some. Was definitely better than the week before. He amps but I find working him at home he whines slightly when trying to figure something out, he tries, tries, & well some whines. 8/
I can't remember if I commented on this thread or not. To be honest, I don't really have any meaningful suggestions for you on this. I'm sure it's really challenging and perhaps even frustrating. I can imagine the looks you get at trial from all the little dog people.

I guess more than anything I just wanted to put it out there that I think it's kind of a shame how "quiet" agility trials are. I've taken a break from agility for about a year now and pursued other dog sports. What I find is that in the vast majority of dog sports, dogs are allowed to be... dogs. They amp up. They get excited for the game. They bark. They bark loudly. That's just how it is.

Certainly I agree that getting over aroused on the course is counter productive and needs addressed via training. But high arousal off the field- I have to say- it bothers me WAY less now-a-days having competed in plenty of other sports.
 
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