Thank you for the responses!
This seems to be a competition issue only. Last weekend, my dog imploded at trial. In his defense, there was a disgruntled neighbor shooting off guns, blasting an airhorn, putting loud music on an amplifying system, dragging trees to the edge of the property line and chain-sawing them, and putting a skid loader into reverse so that the beep-beep-beeping wouldn't stop. My dog was blowing all of this off when he wasn't on the course, but he just couldn't get it together once we got out there.
This week, I took him to two new facilities where he has never been with dogs he has never met. I paid to just drop in and run with the class. In both cases, the strange people and dogs were actually sitting inside of the course. My dog ran clean in both places. He never even struggled. We just moved up into excellent, so I think it's possible that MY nerves are really the problem. When I was in a training environment, he was fine. When I was stepping up to complete, he was too fast, too intense, and trying too hard. I was all "gooned" out of my mind too.
He ALWAYS is very, very fast. He is a bullet in practice and on course. He is much faster than my coach's MACH 7 dog. In fact, from time to time, she runs him in practice and his speed is hard for her to manage too. I am a short novice handler with serious joint issues. It is very difficult for me to handle him. When I freak, it makes it all worse.
This dog competes in obedience and rally. The ring stress does not affect him in the least out there. He has his rally excellent title and his grad novice title. He has won almost all of his classes to this point. His obedience scores from his CD and Grad Novice journey have all ranged from 193 to 197 1/2. He almost always scored 99 or 100 in the rally ring at all levels and he was always the winner on time ties. He is going for his first CDX legs in two weeks. He is calm and easy in the obedience rings. This is a good dog who is giving me his best.
He is a powder-keg sort of dog. To try to simulate his arousal in competition, I have been handling him while holding his favorite toys. I have has people playing with his ball beside him while we did weaves and tight jump patterns. He is able to work through those distractions. I trial this weekend and I am very concerned that we are going to struggle again...
Perhaps this is more about me than it is about the dog...