Fix for Slow Dog Agility Weavers

First and foremost you need to understand that the weave poles are the only obstacle that the dog must learn everything about. Some dogs take to them quickly and some need time to process each element of the weaves. If your dog is weaving correctly, but just won’t speed up, there are a few things you can do to help them build drive into their performance.

Believe it or not, a break can be a great fix as it allows your dog to digest what they are learning and help freshen their minds if they are overwhelmed or bored with the lesson. When you come back to the weaves, try a shorter set and lots of yummy treats and praise for every, and we many any, improvements your dog has. Then stop when they are still amped up. The same way you build and sustain value in a favorite toy.

Go back to foundation work or try a new foundation method. There are many ways to teach the weaves, but if your dog loses drive you may have gone too far too fast. Great ways to build drive into your dog’s weave performance is to go back to channel or V style weaves. This allows your dog to run full speed for a treat or toy without getting bogged down with the mechanics of weaving. Wired or Versa weaves can be the answer for some dogs as they learn muscle memory without having to think to much about mechanics.

One viewer shared: One thing that worked for me is a jackpot reward. The idea is if you see incremental progress on the weaves, the dog gets a big reward, and then you are finished working for that day. So number 1, you end the day’s training on a positive note, and number 2, the dog remembers that its possible to earn a jackpot (who doesn’t like that?), and will try to earnestly to earn one again! The hardest thing (for me) is to stop training when things go good, but it really pays in the long run, if you don’t have a super driven dog.

So don’t give up on your dog’s weave performance, instead try something new or give your dog more time to process the lessons. Keep lessons short and very upbeat with tons of praise and soon your dog will be a lean mean weaving machine.

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Posted in Dog Agility Training

How to Help Agility Dogs that Refuse the Last Hurdle

We had a question asked by a beginner dog agility enthusiast about her dog refusing the final jump. Though we were not given great details, she said she tried everything and still her dog refuses the last jump. Our first question back is, “How does your dog know it’s the last jump?” But we will look at what others had to say on this dilemma as you had some great tips.

We would ask if you and Taggie are apprehensive about the last fence and reinforce each others anxiety. Picture another fence after the last one and continue to work Taggie over it.  Pretend the finish line is not where the judge has set it.  This should help you avoid tensing up as you approach the final hurdle.

We also suggest that you teach your dog the “go on” command. Teach him to go over a fence to a target or toy, you can throw one if your dog starts going around the jump. The reward and praise is delivered after the fence, not before it. And the spectators who cheer Tag to the end of his run will be shouting ‘go on’ too! Your command to send Tag down the home stretch will be reinforced by the crowd.

Sandy shared: My dog wasn’t refusing the last jump but knocking bars there. Why? Because I had the attitude that we were finished…I slowed down and he turned to see what I was doing! My trainer said,”Keep on moving as if it were in the middle of the course.” Even now I have to check myself on a difficult course from thinking we are “home free” at the last few obstacles. Not true!!

Brenda shared: Make sure that you do not veer off to one side or another, or slow down. With my dog, I was actually getting into her “space” at the end of the run and she was going around the jump and then coming to me. Check out your body language first. Once you fix that, the rest should be easy.

DustyDuckDog shared: A friend who jumps horses told me when I started agility to never think of the last jump as the finish. Keep driving forward as if there is another jump. Your body language may be telling Tag that it is the finish and he looks back to see if you are still coming. Dogs are VERY in tune with our body language. So pretend that there is another jump coming up. It worked for me and my dog who was doing the same thing. Good luck

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Posted in Dog Agility Training

Traveling with Your Agility Dog

traveling dogThere are many considerations to take in mind when making travel plans during the holiday season or any other time for that matter. The first being whether or not to take your dog or leave them at home. If you are attending an agility trial, the answer is easy. If it’s a trip to visit friends and family, you also need to take in precautions to help make it a bit safer for your dog.

First and foremost in the decision making process of taking or leaving your dog is comfort. Will the trip invigorate them or cause them undue stress. Does your dog get car sick or will they tolerate a plane ride? Will staying home without you bother them or will they be happy without you.

You also need to consider if you will have time to spend with your dog and if there will be other pets where you are going. How will your dog get along being in a strange place with strange dogs and you gone most of the time. Or, are there pet friendly hotels you can stay at and will your dog be happy with that arrangement? Questions to consider for leaving your dog home is if they can stay with friends or family. Do you have someone you can trust to stay at the house while you are gone?

Dog Hotels

If your destination requires you to stay at a hotel, that isn’t always a bad thing. Having a place to “hole up” can give both you and your dog some needed quiet time. Here’s a list for US hotels allowing dogs (and there’s a subcategory there for those of us with giant breeds and kitties). It’s a good idea to bring a lot of courtesy bags, chew and be quiet toys, paper towel, shot records, bowls, and a crate (pop-up kennels are great for crate trained dogs). You can’t leave the dog loose in the hotel room when you are not in it, and the chew toys will help keep him happily occupied. Covering the crate with a blanket can help settle dogs as well.

Finding a Good Boarding Kennel

Boarding kennels can be a good option if you do your leg work. Visit any possible locations and see how the dogs are being kept. Sniff around, does it smell clean or rank? Is everything clean and shiny? Is there a play area, and playtime? Some kennels even have webcams so you can watch your dog online while you’re away. The kennel will tell you what you need to bring, but here is a starters’ list: shot records, a few not-quite-favorite toys, and your dog’s food. They will also probably want his veterinarians’ phone number in case of emergency.

Dog Babysitters

Neighborhood kids or adults can offer affordable care for your dogs while the dogs stay at home. Do not hire a stranger. If you are new to the neighborhood, ask around for references and have the prospects come interact with your dog as much as possible to build a relationship. If you hire a responsible kid, be sure you talk about details with their parents. Will they come with their child to take care of the dog? Again, have them interact with your dog as much as possible before you leave. Make sure they are able to handle your dog on a leash if your dog needs to be walked. If anything makes you think they’ll forget to water the animal, say no and look elsewhere for a sitter (perhaps an agility buddy who is staying home?). The obvious benefit of an in-house sitter is your dog does not have to leave his home, has at least a marginally familiar person watching out for him, and knows the rules of his own house.

Think about your dog and his personality before choosing to bring them, board them or leave them at home. Some dogs would really rather just stay home with a bowl of food twice a day and water as they laze around in the laundry room. Some would sooner die than be left all alone even in their own home. And some dogs relish the chance to play with other dogs in a kind of doggie daycare. You know your dog best, and you know your options best and what you need to do in order to enjoy your trip without worrying about your dog.

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