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Old 02-28-2017, 07:33 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Dolly's first agility class wasn't great

I took Dolly to her first beginner agility class last night and it wasn't an especially positive experience. I wasn't late, but we were the last ones to arrive (I hate that), and the first thing that happened was a GSD went snake at her barking and lunging. She handled that ok (better than me) and we just went on the other side of the room. I soon realized he was very reactive and was doing it to all the other dogs that came near him. We started out with our own low jump getting them to go back and forth over it, and out of nowhere a border collie came at her snarling. I had my back to them and didn't see him coming, the guy laughed and said "oh he just wants to herd her". It happened twice more before the trainer told him to keep his dog under control and away from Dolly, which he wasn't very affective at for the remainder of the class. Dolly did really well at keeping focused on me and doing what I asked, but I'm not sure she loved it. I don't know if it was everything going on or that agility just isn't her thing. We mainly just introduced them to different agility equipment, a plank on the ground, low teeter which they just stepped on to get use to the loud noise etc.. The teeter noise didn't effect her at all, but when another dog banged it down it coincided with another attack from the BC, after that she wouldn't step on the teeter at all. She was without a doubt the best behaved dog there, and I was very proud how she kept her focus on me, but I'm not sure I want to return, or should return. After class the trainer told me before I arrived they made sure the BC wasn't aggressive to the other dogs, so I guess the owner new he had issues. She also said to see how it goes next week and if it's still an issue I can wait for the next class, but Dolly wasn't the problem. I guess I've got a week to think about it but I'm just not sure what to do.
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Old 02-28-2017, 08:05 AM   #2 (permalink)
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A good trainer will put the safety of the dogs in the class first. If you feel like this trainer is not prioritizing safety, then get out of the class. You need to protect Dolly, and unfortunately, I have seen otherwise capable trainers keep dangerous dogs in a class, sometimes for the money and sometimes because they think they can help the dog/owner. But if you feel unsafe, and especially if Dolly feels unsafe, then I would leave.
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Old 02-28-2017, 08:54 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Liz View Post
A good trainer will put the safety of the dogs in the class first. If you feel like this trainer is not prioritizing safety, then get out of the class. You need to protect Dolly, and unfortunately, I have seen otherwise capable trainers keep dangerous dogs in a class, sometimes for the money and sometimes because they think they can help the dog/owner. But if you feel unsafe, and especially if Dolly feels unsafe, then I would leave.
Liz expressed it well. Classes like this are not appropriate for reactive/aggressive dogs.

OMG, I have never been in a class with aggressive dogs like this. It's not your dog that should leave the class, it's the border collie (BC) and probably the German Shepherd Dog. Maybe the trainer didn't think it through properly in the heat of the moment but will come to their senses and change their mind about who stays? Unless they have another trainer, I would ask for your money back as this is not a good trainer.
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Old 02-28-2017, 09:25 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Well, and I would think that the owner of the reactive dog would be smart enough to give his dog enough space to prevent the dog from becoming reactive. Proper handling on the part of the owner can make a huge difference. Agility can be an arousing sport and with that can come reactive behavior. Unless that dog is actually dog aggressive (and maybe he is) I think the issue is less that the dog who was reactive shouldn't be in class and more that the dog needs an owner who advocates for him and creates a situation where his dog has enough space from other dogs and proper focus on his owner. And who responds not by saying "oh he just wants to herd you" but by taking steps to support proper behavior from his own dog. Of course, if he can't do that, then he should not be in the class. It's also important for the instructor to manage class so that EVERY dog in class has their own space to feel comfortable working. Every owner should also be taking steps to make sure their dog doesn't get into the personal bubble of any other dog in class, also. So, there's that aspect to consider as well as you make a decision about whether or not this class is right for you.
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Old 02-28-2017, 09:26 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm sorry to hear that. I've just started basic agility classes with Gustav. There are approx 12 dogs in the class, some very young and excitable (that includes Gustav who is 6 months old) so the classes can be quite noisy as the dogs get very excited. At the moment the classes are mainly based around body awareness, working on a good 'wait' and introducing some equipment slowly, all the time with the aim of getting your dog to focus on you with all the noise and distractions that are going on around, including lots of barking! We all keep our dogs on leads and are told not to let the dogs interact with each other, so they learn to work around other dogs without the need to play or get distracted by them. This is proving a little difficult for Gustav who is going through a reactive barky phase, so you might say he is one of those 'reactive' dogs in class, although he is in no way aggressive, so I work hard to keep him focused on me/the task in hand and every week he gets a bit better. It shocks me however that these people in your class are even allowed to let their dogs run over to other dogs during training, never mind the fact that they are doing it in an aggressive manner. Yes it is hard for dogs to focus when there is so much going on, but if they can't learn how to behave correctly in basic agility classes and are reacting in an aggressive way then in my opinion the owners should go back to some more basic obedience training classes!
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Old 02-28-2017, 11:49 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Yay, Dolly for being the best behaved dog in class! I wish the GSD and the BC owners would do some soul searching on whether their dogs should be in class instead of you. It's a class not the dog park.
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Old 02-28-2017, 12:38 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The trainer/owner has never let interaction between dogs in a class before, and I think I'll have to talk to her about it. Even the friendly dogs were given the opportunity by their owners to wander on leash, they should have been told it's not a meet and greet class. The couple with the BC were probably in their late fifties, not particularly fit looking and not very experienced. I have no idea why they chose a high energy dog like a BC. The GSD people knew better how to handle him and I think he was more over excited than aggressive, they kept their distance and tried to focus his attention. I don't want to quit this class but I doubt anything will change with the BC, mainly because they just have no idea how to handle him. There was lots of room for everyone and no reason he should ever have got that close to us.
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Old 02-28-2017, 12:45 PM   #8 (permalink)
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This reminds me of my first agility class with Maizie. I can't remember if I mentioned that I was late and when we walked in some reactive doodle lunged at Maizie. That doesn't set a very nice tone. I'm sorry that happened to Dolly. I know you'll figure out what's the best way to handle it.
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Old 02-28-2017, 01:00 PM   #9 (permalink)
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On another note, DH said Abbey was not happy while we were gone and wouldn't even sit with him. Then when we got home she sniffed Dolly, walked past me and went to bed. I'm pretty sure I know what she said as she passed me by, but I gave her some cuddle time and all was forgiven.
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Old 02-28-2017, 01:21 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caddy View Post
The trainer/owner has never let interaction between dogs in a class before, and I think I'll have to talk to her about it. Even the friendly dogs were given the opportunity by their owners to wander on leash, they should have been told it's not a meet and greet class. The couple with the BC were probably in their late fifties, not particularly fit looking and not very experienced. I have no idea why they chose a high energy dog like a BC. The GSD people knew better how to handle him and I think he was more over excited than aggressive, they kept their distance and tried to focus his attention. I don't want to quit this class but I doubt anything will change with the BC, mainly because they just have no idea how to handle him. There was lots of room for everyone and no reason he should ever have got that close to us.
I'd give the class another go and just have a word with the instructor. I would just politely ask her to clarify what the rules are on letting the dogs interact or wander off leash, as it was making your dog frightened and distracted and you're afraid it may not be the right class for you if this is how it normally works.
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