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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently switched coaches and moved from classes to privates. My new instructor is fabulous. However, I am having to re-learn so many of the basics that I wonder how I ever competed.

I am curious about what skills other people found particularly challenging. With one dog, getting cues delivered quickly and clearly enough is taking up most of my time.

With my other dog, monitoring motivation and keeping it fun is testing my creativity!

I can drill one dog until he dies and he still gives me everything he has. My other dog is always looking for an excuse to quit.

What are other peoples' biggest challenges?
 

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Keeping the nose off the ground is our biggest challenge. I think it's less of a displacement behavior, in this case, and more just sniffy spots on the ground that are distracting. We usually trial in horse arenas, and occasionally another dog will eliminate on course. Those are always the spots where the nose hits the ground. Note to self: next time, adopt a dog that isn't part hunting dog.
 

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FOr us: #1 would be me getting downcourse and delivering on-time cue combinations that give as much information as possible while still maintaining clarity.
 

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Remembering difficult sequences while thinking about properly handling the dog has always been challenging for me. Oddly (but good I guess), I tend to do a bit better with that at trials than at classes.
 

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Keeping my dog focused on the course instead of on the ground or too focused on me. She often sticks her nose into the grass at the weaves at trials. Not during class too much because she's familiar with the smells. Trials smell all kinds of wonderful though. She also tends to look to me too much instead of listening and taking what's in front of her, she likes to see exactly where I am and turns her head toward me a lot. That's gotten a lot better recently though, she is getting more focus onto the obstacles. She's very food motivated so instead of running a course it's like she's been thinking "jump, treat!.. weave, treat!.. teeter, treat!" so she looks to me after every obstacle in case she might get a treat.

I also have issues with getting her energy under control. If she doesn't have a chance to sprint, run, and get her crazy butt-scooting zoomies out before a run then she WILL do it on the course. I'm not happy when I pay $20 for her to spaz out for 30 seconds. Makes me laugh and the crowd loves it at least! It's tough to take just enough off her energy that she can focus, but not so much that she is tired and unmotivated. Really tough.
 

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Remembering to work the dog equally on the right and the left.

Tunnel suck! Marsh's first trial experience was NADAC Tunnelers, and he discovered tunnels are FUN! I weep whenever a tunnel-contact discrimination is on course. Although last fun match he developed contact suck, so we'll see where that is.

Refining communication on course - commitment to obstacles and timing of cues.

Remembering courses. Trust the dog.
 

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For Dazzle the Border Collie... Keeping her excited and motivated
For Schultz the Schnauzer... Keeping him calm and focused
For Mojo the Giant Schnauzer... Keeping her on the course
 

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Timing, hands down.

The timing you need to use for one dog will never be the same as with another dog.
 

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With Frag it is getting him not to stick so close. We had been working on send outs for 15 minutes every other day, and he still wants to stick to me on a course. Also, we've worked a lot of rear end awareness and his position/my position type stuff, so if I make a mistake and move wrong or start to plan ahead- or even go in the wrong direction- he's changed his course because my shoulders changed direction. Wouldn't be as big of a problem if he would get away from me so he didn't notice. XD
 

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I know I'm coming into this late, but for my dog Elli Mae (doberman/schnauzer/sheltie) it's the teeter, she's a motion sensitive dog who got car sick as a puppy and still curls up into a ball in the back of my car.. I had her going across it on her own a few times in practice when it was only a couple friends and I with our dogs, but as soon as other people she's not 100% comfortable with are around she will not do more than go over to it walk 1/4 the way up it, turn around, go down to the bottom and "touch" ... she's gone completely backwards and I'm struggling to get her back over it again without having to lead her up the pivot point with a lead on, after it tips she's fine.. but I was also working really hard on getting her weaves around the same time and she's got those quite well now, atleast better than from before where she only had an entrance, yes I have to go beside her and point to each hole and tell her "weave" but she's getting quicker with it.
Staying at the start line is also another issue, I cannot get a decent lead out because she's an incredibly sensitive dog and doesn't like to be far from me around strangers, but at home I can get a stay out of her no problem most of the time.
So many little handler things, but those are my two biggest issues, dog wise anyways.. me, whole different story.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Have you played much with a wobble board and a clicker? And once that was going well, a skateboard and a clicker? The cool thing about the wobble board and the skateboard is that it's totally the dog's choice to get on them. If they do, they get a click/treat. If they don't, oh well. This can profoundly help them ease into comfort with moving obstacles. It also teaches them how to bail off and land well, a skill they unfortunately may need to know, particularly on the dog walk and teeter.

My coach wouldn't let my whippet on a dog walk or a teeter until I could push her around on a skateboard and until she would sit/stand/down on both.


Also, my coach wouldn't let me jump my whippet until I could do a full lead out with my whippet NEVER breaking eye contact with me. We taught the start-line before anything else. Eye contact can't drop at all other than a glance at a sudden noise or movement with an IMMEDIATE reconnect of eye contact. My instructor's theory is, if you don't own it on the start-line, you won't get it back on course.

My whippet is a work in progress, but the work we have done together has totally tranformed my other dog. The stupid insanity that he once was is now focused intensity. As he seemingly settled down, he has gotten faster. And he already was fast.
 

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I haven't played much with the wobble board since her beginners classes, lately if we try playing with it she comes close to shutting down... and I don't have a skateboard as I could never stay on one myself, lol.

Our instructors sounds quite a bit different in their approach to things, my instructor isn't big on stays and lead outs as those aren't her main focus so we've been working on that stuff at home, guess we need to go out to the field and practice it, but having a larger group of people seems to make a huge difference.

I am going to purchase a board (teeter width/length) to prop up on something to allow it to tip without the added height and see if that can help her get over her fear of the teeter.
 
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