Nipping Agility Dogs at the End Gate

defusing an agility dogBecause there are so many herding breeds that compete and excel in dog agility, nipping is more common than you may think. While some dogs nip when they get frustrated at slow directionals from the handler more get so revved up in their run that they nip while the handler is trying to leave the course.

We asked you what you would do in the situation of a sheltie that developed this habit and you gave us some great ideas on how to understand our dogs and help them unlearn this annoying and often times painful behavior. Here is what you said:

therapydogs3 says:

“Ignore the bad behavior” and “Acknowledge the Good Behavior”. When your sheltie pops with excite is too late to curb his/her enthusiasm. Watch for the early warning signs of your sheltie beginning to rev out of their usual concentration and react to his/her surroundings vs. on you. Obedience starts in the home. So begin talking to your sheltie in his/her own language such as expressing canine Calming Signals of subtle: drawn out yawning, leisurely stretch out your arms out infront of you and glance coyly at your sheltie from the corner of your eye. You will begin to see that your sheltie will express, “You do understand my language” and begin to react to your request to calm. When your sheltie succeeds to bridge these beggining signs of calming – and can then settle himself – then and only then – acknowledge this good reciprocating “listening behavior” by adding tranquil even strokes and soothing voice. Until he/she reciprocates calm – just ignore the exuberance, do as their litter mate would do during bad behavior towards themselves, they would turn away, walk away in efforts to Ignore the rude behavior (yes, you can walk out of the room or look at the ceiling to wait until you see an initial glimpse for a positive response signal that he/she is attentive to you and providing you with good attention and settling themself down – stopping the low/entry level of excitement). When you can calm your dog without distractions (may take days or weeks), advance and try your calming charma when in your yard and during a moment when there are known distractions that cause your dog subtle excitement levels, and not setting your dog up to fail. Start to succeed with proven low level triggers (where your dog normally is passive when a person walks quietly by at a distance without dogs and not at high alert status instances such as a squirrel scurrying or chattering away tauntingly in the trees) and gradually raise the bar to assure your success is communicating clearly with your sheltie.

matildasmom says:

At the end of your practice runs try throwing a handful of small treats at your dog. Don’t say anything. Just throw the treats. This will startle and distract him, and should have a calming effect. You obviously would not be able to do this at a trial, but if your dog learns to calm down at the end of a run in practice, this should carry over to a trial. Throwing treats (not to be confused with giving treats as a reward) is the advice my Control Unleashed instructor Kienan Brown gave me to control unwanted barking.

Harriet Markell says:

For the dog that is revved up after the run, my suggestion is to train your dog to do something specific after the last obstacle – like get his leash and do a down or sit while you put it on. Then walk out of the arena at a heel or similar and no rewards til breathing slows. This would take lots of work in class and at home, but would give the dog something to do other than go nuts.

For the dog that is so revved up during the run, I’d back up and slow the dog down, only do a few obstacles at a time, treat and get her to do something calm, like a down. When her breathing slows down, she gets to do a few more obstacles. May mean no trials for awhile, but what you describe is not fun for either of you.

DustyDuckDog says:

I don’t know if this will help but, I would try to teach an immediate down on command first. Once the dog knows what to do, give the command once and give the dog time to figure out, no down no reward. Do this while in the house, then playing in the yard, everywhere you take him, often during your time together. Start to delay the reward until you get him by the collar or pick him up (whatever you do at a trial) Then, I would start with only a jump or two running as if in a trial demanding the down at the end of performance, in a calm voice, tell him good. Reach down, get the dog by the collar or pick him up, no excitement,very calm, walk the dog or carry him over to the leash (as in a trial) put it on then reward. Work with a hungry dog. If the dog doesn’t go down, no treat, no more play stand there and by this time (if taught properly while training away from the jumps) when given time to figure it out the dog should go down. Keep everything low keyed and work in short training sessions. Work your way up to doing more and more obsticles. Try to go to classes and run throughs where you can work on this. Remember that you are working on this problem while there so don’t get him too exited, probably just do the last couple of jumps. Don’t pick the dog up (if you normally do) until the dog goes down. No ruffing, excited patting, just a calm getting the dog and putting on the leash. Now the hard part……I wouldn’t go to any real trials until I have this under control. It doesn’t take much to undo all you gain through training. One good thing is that Shelties are VERY smart and learn fast (sometimes too fast)

All great ideas that should help anyone out there with a dog that gets too revved up at the end of the run. If you have a different idea, please share below in the comments so others can try that as well.

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5 Ways to Combat Fleas on Your Agility Dog

natural flea controlWhat to do about those pesky parasites called fleas! Unless you have a full blown outbreak you may want to try some of these chemical free ways of keeping your pet and home clear of fleas. Please Note: These are NOT for cats.

1) From we found this Herbal Flea Control Recipe:

  • Combine one part of as many of the following powdered herbs as possible: Eucalyptus, rosemary, fennel, yellow dock, wormwood, rue.
  • Put mixture in shaker-top jar.
  • Apply the flea powder to your dog’s fur by brushing backwards and sprinkling it into the base of the hair (especially focus on the neck, back and belly).
  • Immediately take your dog outside so the vacating fleas don’t wind up on your floor.
  • Use this natural flea control recipe as frequently as necessary, up to several times per week for more serious infestations.

2)  Citrus Juice (Not Oil): Fleas are known to be repelled by the juice of freshly squeezed oranges or lemons. You can rub the juice on your dog to repel the fleas before they go outside. NOTE: Cats are repelled by citrus too, so if you have cats you may not want to use this on your dogs.

3) Water Dunk: Water really does repel fleas because they do not hang onto the hair shafts. So a dip in a pool of water will release most if not all the fleas on your dog. If you don’t have a large pool you can wash your dog with a gentle shampoo or a little liquid dish soap with a thorough brushing, outside, to get rid of some fleas.

4) Keeping the House Clean: Regular vacuuming including under furniture, helps get rid of fleas, flea food, eggs and larvae as does laundering pet beds and furniture covers. Just be sure not to use harsh products. Fleas will live in your vacuum canisters so be sure to dump them after each use.

5) In the Yard: There are natural flea predators you can purchase to keep your flea population down in the yard. Nematodes are small worms that eat flea larva and work really well with a decrease in flea population within two days. They are obtainable in many garden or pet stores. Note: These are not the nematodes that cause heart-worm.

Though not an exhaustive list of ways to combat fleas without the use of chemicals, we hope these easy fixes will help keep those pesky bugs in check for the comfort and safety of your dog.


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Air Travel Options for Your Agility Dogs

flying agility dogsBack in 2009 we learned about a pet transportation service that flies your pets in a specialized jet called Pet Airways. Started by a couple back then, we are happy to say they are still alive and thriving today. Though they now have some competition in pet shipping via the air.

We got some comments on our original post that did raise some good questions. Some of you would still rather fly with your pet. Though we are sure these business have great security measures, I would not want to land in Hawaii only to find my dog went to New York, or worse my dog is not the dog they deliver.

Still, understanding this can happen when your dog is shipped with you on a “normal” airline, is it worth the peace of mind that your dog is riding in the main cab and not the cargo hold of a plane? While many airlines have tried to improve their animal handling policies, do you really know what is happening with your pets?

They even offer pick-up, delivery, and boarding of your pets. This would most likely be used by those that are relocating and maybe even driving a moving truck to their new residency. They operate like a private airline, eliminating long lines and security checkpoints. They have well-lit, climate controlled cabins with proper air circulation for comfort and safety. They are checked on by attendants on a regular schedule as well.

And while Pet Airways was new back in 2009, we learned there has been this service by another company called Pet Air since 1976. There is a third company PAC or Pet Air Carriers who did their first international animal shipment back in 1957. So, if this is a service you could use, be sure to do your homework and find the best company for your needs.

It sounds like a good option for many whose animals are too large to ride in the cabin of commercial airlines or those with numerous animals so they can be shipped together.

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