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I have a question for those of you who are training and competing in more than one sport, such as obedience and agility. I am having so much trouble with Raven in the Novice competition ring that I have considered adding agility to give her something she might see as more fun to help her attention to to me. She knows the Novice inside and out but loses it on the heel free because she is soooo nervous in the venues. However, someone told me that if they love agility it might might make it harder to get her cooperation in the Novice ring. What do you all think? Will it be a help or a hindrance?

At this point I am thinking a CD may just not be in the cards for us because I hate to keep asking something of her she seems to dislike. It has always been my dream to do obedience but I am not sure she is very willing partner. Maybe I should play with Novice at home and add Agility..at least for competition purposes? We are working on Rally Excellent, but I can’t see ever getting the RAE because she would never compete well the number of times in a day necessary to get that.

Teri
 

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Lots of dogs gain confidence through agility so it may well help. Good agility is based on good connections with the dog and handler to one another and that will always make obedience have a better chance of success. The important thing is to keep clear criteria for each sport so the dog knows what it will be doing after you cross the threshold of the ring gate. Different warm up routines, different collars and leashes and different ring gate protocols all can help set the criteria for the activity.
 

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The only dog sports where MY nerves don’t come into play are barn hunt and nosework. When I’m nervous it affects my dogs. I have hopes to go further in obedience one day, but the group exercises (even on leash) will be a challenge. I think that utility looks like fun; we practice ‘go outs’ at home, along with signal exercises. Gotta do something during the cold winter months.

Here is an interesting read comparing nosework and obedience for dogs.

https://thesciencedog.com/2019/01/28/science-says-nose-work-is-good-for-your-dog/
 

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Tracking is another venue that really builds teamwork and is great for dogs because they are in charge and you are just the "dope at the other end of the rope".
It is very low key in terms of equipment - harness and a long line, surveyor flags and some old socks and gloves - you don't need other people - just any open field - and it really fosters communication.
All dogs LOVE it - I have heard from many people that when they haul their tracking gear to the car the dogs get more excited than with any other sport...
 

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scooterscout99 brings up an excellent point - personally I'm petrified when I compete. I can't help myself, I've always been this way about taking exams no matter how well prepared I am. I'm a perfectionist and this gets in the way too. When I compete I'm so scared I don't fully comprehend what the judge is saying, sometimes I just see the lips move and don't hear the words. Plus I struggle because I do not know my right from my left and it's not something I will ever learn. I know that fear is going down the leash to my dog. Poor Babykins, she has to work with me and my fear. I do find continuing to compete helps but I will always struggle with this which means my dog will always have to struggle too.

What's worse is my dog is naturally cautious about textures, movement and what is going on in her environment etc. It took me a year to get her to love going into her PVC pipe uhey to practice. In agility we had to conquer various textures of equipment, movement on the teeter and height on the dog walk and A frame. When we started nose work she was afraid to stick her nose in the box and other weird locations dogs have to sniff to find the hide.

What I've discovered is each of the sports we're competing in - Obedience, Rally, Agility and Nose Work have all worked synergistically towards a much more confident dog.

I am constantly petrified that Babykins will zoom and I know in obedience class she is often distracted by the other dogs in the class even though we constantly work attention. When we're in the ring competing - at least she's the only dog so the focus is on me which helps. So I was surprised last week when my teacher had me take Babykins leash off her while we did figure eights around people and their dogs - and I thought for sure she would zoom - nope she did better than she does with a leash where she lags going around the outer circle in class (but never at home, stinker does it beautifully at home). All the other dogs practice on leash and no one has ever done off leash heeling in this class - so you can understand my nervousness about that.

I've also been able to get some semi private time at one of my clubs training in the building with various people and their dogs. I have found that extremely helpful to working off leash. I can take the little narrow area behind the gates, or sometimes we split the room in half and take turns with sharing one area and one person working alone in the other area. This has been wonderful for me. All these other women who come are people who are experienced trainers, many had put utility titles on their other dogs and are working with their newer dogs on novice, open or utility. I'm the only one who is working with their first dog.

Do you ever work with toys? I've been incorporating toys in training for agility, rally and obedience. When toys lose their sheen then I use food rewards. I've also upped my speed - trying to walk at a setting of 130 beats per minute on a metronome.

I'm strongly advocating you take up agility while you continue to train for obedience. Focus on agility, but keep up her obedience skills.

Anyhow I apologize that this is so long, but I've struggled with this too and maybe some of the things I've done will help you. And I appreciate what other people write because I'm always looking for help too. I've signed up for a competition in a few months for AKC Novice - and I hope it's not a donation to the club.

I waited so long to compete in AKC Beginner Novice - so long that one of the trainers was strongly telling me I had to compete. Turns out we were more than ready - we came in second in our first time out and then took first in the next two legs - even with my extreme fears and Babykins nervousness. I'm hopeful we can continue. When I read your post, it caused me to pause and wonder if we'll by stymied like you currently are. I hope we can both be successful in our goals.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I really appreciate all of the feedback!!

Skylar, I am sure my nerves are a big part of the problem, I have been really working on it. I am not an athlete my self and have no experience with competition so it is a struggle. Raven’s issue is with people, not the dogs, especially men. If she sees a man get near the ring or working in an adjacent area she will not take her eyes off them, and I have totally lost her. I continue to take her places where she will see men and we find ways I make her “stand for exam” and interact for treats with various men in classes, but it a long slow process and I am just wondering if it is being fair to her to out her such a stressful situation in competition. I actually don’t enjoy the competition nearly as much as training, but I do it to see how we are progressing.

I took 12 weeks of agility when she was about 2 yrs old and she just turned 5, so it’s been awhile. We would essentially be starting over except that that we have a better bond now. She started out scared of all the equipment but ended up starting to enjoy it. I had to stop because I was too overwhelmed as a new person to dog sports with trying to Obedience,Rally, and Agility at the same time. I chose to stop agility because it was harder for m and therefore less enjoyable. We have also had a break since Dec 1 from Rally as the trainer had a medical procedure so I am debating what to do. I thought she might really find it fun this time around and give her something new to do. As Catherine has said about Lily, Raven memorizes everything so quickly she is easily bored with repetition and tunes out. I thought she might like like a new challenge.
 

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For those with ring nerves I definitely recommend working on that stress you experience. I did a great sports psychology workshop oriented towards dog sports back in September. The presenter/facilitator was Brenda Reimer, Ph.D. a professor of sports psychology and obedience competitor. If you ever see a workshop with her in your area go for it!!!!


Raven'sMom make sure the treats you give to Raven for stand for exam for men are super jack pots and give them as men are touching her with you right in front of her and keeping eye contact. She needs to know that you are her anchor to keep eye contact with while she is doing something hard.
 
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