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Discussion Starter #1
Yup! It only takes one evil fly to totally undo a poodle. Here’s the story...Last night Bobby and I went to his last night of his Obedience Class. We are both feeling good, happy and the weather was perfect. Such a lovely night it was.

He’s been doing very well for the most part so I was looking forward to class. We arrived at class, took our places and did our usual routine. About 5 minutes into class a lone fly started buzz around him. He was beginning to get distracted a bit but I didn’t think too much about it, at first. Obedience class is hard work though so this was definitely an extra distraction he did not need. He was doing fair but I could tell he wasn’t able to focus well and I was starting to feel frustrated, which I’m sure he felt. I was getting mad at the fly. I tried to be calm and did all I knew how to do. The fly just kept relentlessly pestering him though, flying around his head, his nose and to make a long story short, about halfway through class, Bobby fell apart.

Things escalated and I couldn’t get him to do anything. He was not able hear anything. He had a very wild look to his eyes, like he couldn’t really see me or hear me. I felt so bad for him but it was getting harder and harder to even control him. My poodle boy, who is quite good at these things, at least most of the time, couldn’t even sit. He just wanted out of there. There was a soccer game going on across the street as well so he was WAY, WAY over stimulated. It was just too much for both of us. Even his beloved hotdogs wouldn’t help him to sit let alone anything else. This is a dog who will do anything for a hotdog. Having to wear masks doesn’t help either as I couldn’t give him my normal calming signals.

I finally decided we were done and we walked outside. He was a different dog once we were outside. He was calm, walked well and not bothered by the soccer game. We went back in at the end but he just couldn’t do it. It was like he was panicked and it was very overwhelming for him and for me. I was almost in tears because of a darned fly!!!!!

So my heart was sad as we will soon be starting his CGC class and now I’m doubting myself and his abilities. He looked for that stupid fly at home until he went to bed. Then I got super freaked because I’m worried he’s going to have a fly phobia. He’s back to normal today, thank goodness.
I decided when we go back for his next class we are going to get set up on the other side of the room and hope and pray he doesn’t remember that stinking fly. Just needed to get that off my chest and I sure could use some encouragement too. Thank you!
 

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I'm so sorry that sounds awful. I think many dogs are very bothered by flies buzzing around their heads. It would drive me crazy too! Hopefully he'll forget all about it. I think you made the right call to take him out. If it's not fun for them then there's no point.
 

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Misty hunts flies when they come into the house. She calls them sky raisins. Hunting little things is what JRTs were bred to do, and she throws herself into it with all her heart. It’s exhausting to watch her at work, even as she‘s lost some of her stamina. And it’s noisy! Jingle jingle jingle. Pace pace pace. Bark! Snap! Slip! Shake! Rattle! Bark! And, as with Bobby, getting her to listen during that time is pretty much impossible. I’d imagine being at a dog training class with one buzzing around would shut her down altogether. But if she catches one, or doesn’t see it for at least 24 hours, she usually settles down. In addition, when we had a fenced yard, she used to chase butterflies, but she didn’t go hunting for them when they weren’t there, such as in winter. So it’s very likely that Bobby will settle, as well, and will have forgotten all about it when you return.
 

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Poor Bobby. And you! But you made the right decision taking him out. Did your trainer have any advice or words of encouragement for you?

Peggy also gets fixated sometimes. It's usually when she's overtired and starts obsessing over reflections in dark windows, in which case an early bedtime is the only thing that works. Otherwise I have to really jolly her along and change the mood. NOT always easy. I've had those frustrating classes when you both are past your threshold. And faking it never works with a poodle. You just have to dig deep.

I wonder if you relaxed once you stepped outside, which helped Bobby to relax.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I’m sure he felt and reacted to my frustration. I tried to be calm but he definitely is highly sensitive to my feelings. You absolutely cannot lie to a poodle.😉 It became a vicious cycle and I’m sure, the needing to control his behavior because we were with a group of humans and dogs, and the fact that I’m asking him to do things during this fly fiasco made things worse. I know I made the right decision but I was disappointed we had to leave. It was quite embarrassing too, although I’m guessing most understood. Bobby has done well in class so they knew it wasn’t his normal behavior. And in the end, it doesn’t matter what others think. I just finally decided leaving class was the best.

I did talk to the trainer after and he was totally understanding. Things happen. He’s had Bobby in other classes and says Bobby has come a long way. He didn’t seem concerned and thought Bobby would be just fine in the CGC class. He did offer a few encouragements and ideas during class but Bobby really was just too far gone. Distractions are hard for Bobby normally and this was just too much The trainer knows Bobby is easily distracted and young and I think he felt bad about the fly. It just appeared, nobody’s fault. I guess in life, Bobby will have to deal with more flies but hopefully not in a training setting and if so, hopefully it won’t be such a big deal. I know a fly buzzing around my head would bug me too. Unfortunately, also, this was an evening class that isn’t over until 9:10 so Bobby was tired as well so I’m sure that added to the situation. Having shared this sure helps.

I will just look forward, stay positive and will keep on training as that CDC class is next month. I think we will go to Home Depot for a walk this weekend. He does great in there....and, I’m guessing there will be a fly or two buzzing around. 😉
 

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I think you did the right thing by taking Bobby out of the building. One of the best training tips I can offer is to give your dog a break during class, as often as needed, and preferably before he really needs a break to preempt any unwanted behavior. I found that it helped both of my poodles: the easily distracted and somewhat reactive male, and the focused and eager to please female. With the male I offered short but more frequent breaks, leaving the building to walk outside for 2-3 minutes, to keep him under his arousal threshold. The female benefited from one longer break of at least 5 minutes. I noticed that an hour long class was a bit too long for her, and she would start to fall apart in the last 15 minutes or so. Giving her a sniff break outside revitalised her and kept her focused for the last half of class.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
PTP, Home Depot was a smashing success! I am much encouraged. Home Depot trips are good for many things but we especially love going there for fast, non sniffing walks and it’s an excellent place for heeling training as we walk quickly, weaving through aisles, equipment, people and all the other things found in a large home improvement store. We practice auto sits, weave through tight areas, always making turns, so wonderful for training. Its a wonderful place for training with distractions. It’s our “go to” for winter walking. Anyway, we actually haven’t been there since Corona started so I wasn’t sure how he would do. He did not forget. He did wonderfully! 😊 I definitely needed that encouragement after the fly fiasco. 😉
 
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