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  1. #1
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    Question Would Old Man benefit from OB Trials?

    Background
    Joey attends a CGC class to address his dog aggression (you wouldn’t know it!).

    Instructor asked what my goals are, and thinks he could get a Beginner Novice title. She is used to seeing me with Timber, the Pap I compete. I am torn about trialing Joey.

    - Joey has been the grumpy uncle to dozens. He has been jumped by loose dogs, jumped my leashed dogs (yanked the owner off her feet); developed hyper vigilance/leash aggression.

    - Joey has a flopped sit. Instructor said it’s old man hips. He’s always sat like that and I am 100% ok with it. He is long-backed. Straight sit is more a squat and very unstable.

    Question
    Will Joey benefit from trialing or just stress?

    He’s from the pound. Never step foot into a ring. Has “old man hips.” I cringe seeing senior dogs struggle to sit or rise while the handler glares at them for moving slow or refusing. Joey is not there yet, but... . He stresses in places like Petco.

    Would trialing give him confidence? Would our everyday life be improved? Would the effort to expose him to and manage him in the show environment benefit him
    (confidence, trust, relaxing around strange dogs)?

    There are also finite resources: newbie juggling two competition dogs in class and trials, paying entry fees for two: definitely not before or after Christmas!

    What say you, COTH dog pros?



  2. #2
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    I guess it depends on how he handles competition? I have seen training and subsequent competition cause a shy, soft dog to bloom in the area of confidence. I have also seen shy, anxious dogs handle training fairly well, but just fall apart in competitive environments.

    It is hard to say with some dogs until you try it. Your guy's behavior should tell you what you need to know. Do the training, and then try a trial or two. See what happens. You're talking about rally obedience, correct? That is somewhat lower key than "regular" obedience and that might make all the difference in the world.
    Sheilah



  3. #3
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    I'd suggest you try rally instead- there is no "group stay" exercise, which can be a problem with dogs who have problems with other dogs. And they don't care all that much about sloppy sits. Level 1 is all on leash. And bonus, dogs trained to do rally tend to be more obedient in real life than dogs trained solely for formal obedience, mostly because formal obedience is always the same- do this, do this, then do this; while rally you never know what you will do next (replicates real life more accurately).



  4. #4
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    I'd give him a go in Novice Rally long before I'd consider Beginner Novice...

    He won't get tagged for the crooked sits in Rally, but they will hit you for them in BN. I'd also feel better taking a dog that *might not* be having a good time into the Rally ring, because well, it's Rally! Shorter ring time, you don't really have to worry about the judge, there's no off leash work, you can talk to them and encourage them along if they need it... you know this stuff!

    How does he do in his CGC class? Does he handle the general atmosphere of the class well? If the answer there is yes, I'd see if you can get him into a Rally class, and see how that goes - if he's happy and enjoying class (and you're happy handling him!), try him out at one Rally trial (small and local, if you can manage it).

    You should be OK handling two Rally dogs at a trial - especially since I'm guessing you'll be ready to work your RA with Timber by the time the Old Man is ready to go Novice. Rally is just about always a one-ring trial, so conflicts should not be an issue...

    Something else to consider with regards to two dogs at a trial is whether or not the two will be "good for each other" in a trial situation... Will Timber hang out quietly in his crate while you run the Old Man (and vice versa)? Would the Old Man be happier going to a trial all by himself, so you can devote ALL of your attention to fussing over him? My littlest seems to be a little bit happier when she has a buddy at the trial, but my main girl couldn't care less if the little one is around - she just settles in her crate for a nap if I'm not messing with her. (I think she enjoys the private time with the Boss...)

    And regarding the stressing in Petco - that place can be a freaking madhouse! Not that every trial is an island of calm in a chaotic world or anything, but at least the dogs and handlers at most trials have some semblance of boundaries... (You might see if you can find a trial to just let him spectate at - kind of like taking a green horse to a show just to walk around - no expectations, and if you need to get the hell out of dodge, you can just leave!)



  5. #5
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    Default I love COTH

    Thanks guys!

    I don't know why instructor said BN (OB) instead of Rally. Pivoting (like in 270s and 360s) would be harder for him, but I don't expect him to get perfect scores.

    I will take him into run-thrus to see how he does hanging out. I have taken him to two trials but only because there was no one to walk him at home. He stayed in the car and got walked away from others.

    bdj- in CGC class he is awesome. It is a small class. He has become the safe dog. Next step would be taking him to Timber's class:very crowded but quiet and controlled.

    I hadn't thought about whether my two dogs would be happier together or apart at a trial. That would be a really interesting experiment to compare.



  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bicoastal View Post
    bdj- in CGC class he is awesome. It is a small class. He has become the safe dog. Next step would be taking him to Timber's class:very crowded but quiet and controlled.
    Sounds like you've got a plan! Can you take him to class, and just let him hang out in a crate while you work Timber and then maybe take him out for a really brief "working session" (like 2 minutes worth of simple heeling/sits in the room) when Timber's class lets out? There should be enough people still in the space to let you get a bit of a read on how he'll handle things.



  7. #7
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    I don't think trialing is a good idea. I don't see trialing as a way to improve a dog's confidence, if anything you have to work hard to overcome confidence issues while trialing. So why are you considering this? I can't fathom why the instructer suggested this. Aren't you looking for a way to make your older guy more comfortable with day to day life? Trials aren't day to day life.



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hannahsmom View Post
    So why are you considering this? I can't fathom why the instructer suggested this. Aren't you looking for a way to make your older guy more comfortable with day to day life? Trials aren't day to day life.
    Instructor has never seen him stress. No shaking, whining, desperately trying to climb into my lap which he did in prior years/classes.

    I am considering trialing because
    1. I am now traveling most weekends to train or compete. Joey gets left behind or sent to my dad's. 1a. I feel bad leaving him 1b. More convenient to have both dogs in the same location/with me.
    2. Hoping being around OB dogs would be better experience than Joe Public's dogs.

    Yes I am looking for a way to make him more comfortable encountering Joe Public's dogs day-to-day. I would love to see him relax and socialize. Be "normal." In the past, he has had a blast tearing it up with certain dogs. I just want him to be relaxed and happy. Currently, he is isolated.

    I don't know how to allow him to relax and socialize. Or if the two are now and forever more exclusive.... If he doesn't need to socialize to be happy...



  9. #9
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    1. I am now traveling most weekends to train or compete. Joey gets left behind or sent to my dad's. 1a. I feel bad leaving him 1b. More convenient to have both dogs in the same location/with me.
    even if he goes, can he just hang out? Does he have to compete? He might enjoy just being with you and it doesn't even have to be ringside. It might be at your car or camp. He could be in an ex-pen so other dogs can't be too close to him.



  10. #10
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    I don't see how trialing is going to improve his outlook on life either. Sorry! Particularly given the info you have provided.

    But that said, I don't think Novice Rally will ruin him either, you can always try one show and see how it goes...

    There are a lot of conformation dogs around at most obedience trials, and I have seen some rather nasty confrontations over the years between intact dogs, so I wouldn't assume that the dogs at the OB trial are any better overall than Jo Public's (probaly spade/neutered) dogs. As you know, the OB dogs are there to work and socializing is the opposite of what I want my dog doing I guess, other competitors may be different though. So I'm not sure what your socialization goal is?

    I have an older male rescue that does not enjoy large groups of dogs (i.e. the dog park). He gets along with select dogs (with appropriate energy levels) quite well. He is not a shy dog at all, that was never his problem, but I would never bring him to a trial, this would just create unecessary stress for him, even though I bring my other dog and he is left at home. But I don't know your dog.
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  11. #11
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    Yes I am looking for a way to make him more comfortable encountering Joe Public's dogs day-to-day. I would love to see him relax and socialize. Be "normal." In the past, he has had a blast tearing it up with certain dogs. I just want him to be relaxed and happy. Currently, he is isolated.

    I don't know how to allow him to relax and socialize. Or if the two are now and forever more exclusive.... If he doesn't need to socialize to be happy...
    Well, keep in mind that most people at a trial are NOT going to be very happy if you let your dog "socialize" with their dog(s). At a trial dogs are expected to calmly ignore each other. I have brought a non-entered dog along to trials and just had the dog hang out, and wander around having fun WITH ME at the periphery of the trial- it's an excellent way for a young dog to get used to the trial atmosphere without the stress of showing.


    I don't see why you'd want to let your dog "encounter" or "socialize" with "Joe Public's" dogs. A dog who can calmly ignore the presence of other dogs is a joy to own. Look at the CGC test- that is the definition of a "well-behaved" dog, one that will ignore other dogs.

    If your dog has a few friends he enjoys playing with, and doesn't enjoy having strange dogs thrust into his face, well, he's a normal dog.
    Last edited by wendy; Nov. 22, 2011 at 01:44 PM.



  12. #12
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    I blurred two goals/dreams:
    1. To have my dog more relaxed out walking when we usually encounter Joe Public's dogs.

    2. To provide him with socializing opportunities/play.

    About #1: we walk multiple times/day every day in a very doggy town. It's a landmine of dogs and kids! I would love for him to walk by other dogs without me hyper-managing him. Sniff noses with calm dogs. Move on.

    About #2. Trials are not opportunities to play: they are opportunities to stand relaxed around strange dogs. That would be a dream!

    Maybe just continuing with classes is the way to go; Joey definitely knows class is different from the street.... guess trials would be the same. It was a relief to see he can be crated at a trial without anxiety or fear. I can take him along if I need to and crate him indoors if weather requires it.

    My major, overall, super goal is to have Joey be able to notice and ignore strange dogs. Sniff noses if appropriate. Pass by all other times. He used to be unflappable.

    Presently, I dodge and avoid other dogs. I step way, wayyyy out of the way of calm dogs coming head on so it is clear to humans and dogs there will be no "say hi" stuff. It is working: Joey can look at most strange dogs then focus back to me while I cue and treat him. We are not able to simply walk past. Others cannot walk him with as much success.

    Maybe he could have a neighborhood friend (there's a couple Beagles that would fit the bill), but we'll never know if I keep at our current management. (We had a foster or two he adored -always female, usually small- but I don't know how to facilitate that again? No I can't foster! )



  13. #13
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    Defining "encounter."

    Walking past Joe Public's leashed dogs coming head on is very difficult to avoid. You guys know, Joe Public's dogs could be an elderly Bichon, a pulling pittie, flexis, bouncing Retrievers whose owners cry "he just wants to say hi."

    By encounter, I mean I would like to be able to walk past after noticing them. Look and keep moving. Sniff noses if humans allow. Without me having to hyper-manage him.

    Have leashed dogs walk behind us without him constantly trying to turn around/circle to keep his eyes on the strange dog.

    Have leashed dogs jog nearby/pass. Energetic dogs and jogging dogs is a bigger challenge (understandably).

    That's what I mean by encounter. Notice and ignore. Sniff if humans decide it's ok.



  14. #14
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    Presently, I dodge and avoid other dogs. I step way, wayyyy out of the way of calm dogs coming head on so it is clear to humans and dogs there will be no "say hi" stuff.
    I do this too. For two reasons: 1) I don't want my dogs to learn that "sniff and greet" is an option, and 2) I don't think dogs on leashes should interact with other dogs because the leash introduces a potential fear/aggression problem. If you want to have a "play date" or "socialization" session find somewhere the dogs can all be off leash.

    We ignore dogs and walk by them. Always. Every time. If someone asks "can he say hi?" I say "NO". The goal is to own dogs that calmly ignore all other dogs 100% when on leash, and when working off-leash with their handler.

    Lot of people have trouble with their dogs when they meet other dogs because they haven't insisted on clear and consistent rules about "what we do when we meet dogs while on leash". So they end up with lunging, out of control dogs eager to "go say hi". Or worse they end up with reactive, snarling dogs because the dog feels trapped on a leash and doesn't feel comfortable approaching other dogs while on leash, or the owner always feels anxious about these doggy meetings and feeds the anxiety down the leash to the dog. Always avoiding "meeting" dogs can help soothe the dog and the human anxieties.

    think about it- if you're out walking, do you go up to everyone you see and shake hands and start a conversation? no, and people would think you were really weird if you did so. You want your dog to learn "normal" human society behavior rules, and they definitely include rules about learning to ignore strangers.

    Not to mention that unless you KNOW the other dog it's not safe to do a "sniff and greet"- who knows what will trigger the other dog to attack? who knows what nasty viruses the dog is carrying?


    actually, going to trials might help with anxiety (yours and the dogs)- at trials NO ONE is going to want to have their dog "Say Hi" to your dog, so you can both relax and work on just walking around being calm near the other dogs.



  15. #15
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    My major, overall, super goal is to have Joey be able to notice and ignore strange dogs. Sniff noses if appropriate. Pass by all other times. He used to be unflappable.
    a trial might not be the place to do this then. One of the things I've observed is that not even top obedience dogs are "on duty" when out of the ring. They sometimes pull like a frieght train when outside the ring. And there will undoubtedly be novice dogs and/or handlers that might not have the experience to leave other dogs alone.

    Class is a controlled environment and that is probably part of what helps Joey to handle the stress there. A limited # of dogs, handled in the open and not just appearing on the horizon all of a sudden.

    If you have done clicker training (and I think you have), then be a splitter and split the behavior(s) down and change the environment just a little. Maybe go outside the building then come in, hang around (if allowed) during a different class so Joey can see other/different dogs but still in a controlled envioronment.

    If exposure to the environment of a trail is what you want, I'd get him more experience with known dogs under control at home/class first.



  16. #16
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    I have to agree with everything Wendy said in spades. I don't let my dogs 'say hi' to other dogs out walking as I don't trust their owners or their training. Last thing I need is Fido that just wants to say hi deciding he doesn't like my particular dog and create a problem. So many people have no concept that there is trouble brewing before it is a problem.

    If you do want to get him out, I think taking him to trials with you and leaving him crated in the car and then walking around perimeters with him to get him accustomed would be better than entering. I do take my dogs along as they have no one to stay home with but I keep in mind that unentered dogs are technically not supposed to be there so try to stay out of everyone's way. At conformation shows there are lots of dogs that aren't entered so you may want to consider going to one or two of those and just walking around out in the parking lot with your guy.

    Maybe getting him somewhere in a corner where you can play the "look at that" game without being directly near other dogs. I would also enlist some friends with dogs to do some play time and interaction. Dogs you know, people you know in a very controlled environment. Last thing you guy needs is another scare.



  17. #17
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    Thanks guys! I appreciate everyone's careful thought and input. We all want what is best for the pups. What Wendy said makes sense when I put my "dog trainer" hat on instead of my "pet owner" hat. It is what it is regarding Joe Public's dogs and my dog/s.

    I think Joey will definitely be coming to hang out at a few trials. Frankly, it's easier than driving him to my dad's then picking him up at the end of a long, tiring weekend.

    I understand the "no unentered dogs" rule. I've been sneaking Timber into agility trials for a year so he can experience them before we compete. I will keep Joey in the car when possible and walk him on the outskirts.

    Quick brag: my sis is visiting and came to Joey's OB class last night, asking to bring Timber for company. There were just two of us: one husband whose wife brings a second dog to train in the next class. Instructor invited my sister and the wife to join in, bringing the total to four dogs! Sis worked Timber with a smile the whole time and I worked Joey. Sis had fun! When we got home, she asked about agility classes!



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bicoastal View Post
    Sis had fun! When we got home, she asked about agility classes!
    *evil cackle*

    another convert! Brrawwhahahaha



  19. #19
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    Agree about agility. Definitely addicting.



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