Q. My dogs is brilliant on training nights at the club. We can do quite advanced stuff, yet we are still in the beginners for competitions. We attended a competition yesterday and she behaved like a dog that didn’t know what agility was about! She ran up to the Judge for some attention, she ran out of the ring to see someone she knew, and she was s-l-o-w!
How do I transfer her wonderful skills at training to a competition?
A. I think your dog just needs a bit more time to learn to work at trials – this is super common for beginner dogs! They get a little bit stressed because of the new atmosphere and their handlers’ jitters, and so they seem to ‘forget’ how to do agility, or go very slowly, or leave the ring altogether. Some things that might help you and your dog are (you can use all, or some, and please let me know if you think of any others! this is a pretty common problem. 🙂
- fun runs – go to a trial that offers ‘fun runs’, where you can bring a toy into the ring, or even treats, maybe – ask before you do treats!
- Enter one run at a competition, if possible. This will spare your dog the stresses of crating AND running.
- Bring your dog along (with permission from the trial hosts) and just crate and walk them at the trial. That will get them used to the atmosphere and crating and coming out with lots and lots of dogs!
- Train at another center, if possible, a few times
- Rent a ring with friends and stage your own trial! I like this one, since it allows you to have some of the atmosphere but in a super controlled way.