Zoom zoom zoom!
My question is this. I have a great agility dog. We have been competing for approximately 10 months. So we are a young team. My problem is this: It is pretty typical during her first run of the day for her to get what we call the zoomies. At some point during the run, she decides to take off running like the wind. Not necessarily taking obstacles, but just starts running all around the course. It’s like she is just showing off how fast she can run. Frequently I can’t get her back on course. She is having so much fun, but I get a little frustrated, because she rarely does that during training and does it when we are competing. We do focus work prior to running, acceleration, deceleration, circle work, playing tug, etc.
Hmm. As you say, you are a young team. May I ask what you do when she zooms? Some competitors I have spoken to have success in scooping up their dog and ending their fun. I also knew a lady who would remove all attention from her dog – look up at the sky and fold her arms so that she was in no way reinforcing the behavior (though I do understand you may not want to do that in a trial!)
Does she start zooming after she’s made her first mistake, by any chance? If so, she may be acting out of frustration – or an attempt to figure out what to do.
There are a few other options as well;
- You can start signing up for one fun run every time they are offered, just so you can have the opportunity to work through this with your dog, without the pressure of a points run. You could try a variety of things, there – the no more fun approach I described above, or simply getting her focus back on you.
- You can evaluate yourself and see if you are more stressed going into the ring the first time, and she reacts to your stress.
- How far are you from your dog? Some people find that if they are in closer, they can keep better control. On the flipside of that, are you giving clear signals quickly? Maybe have someone film a run for you (thank goodness for smart phones, right?) so you can see if she’s lacking direction for even a few seconds. That may be enough for her to decide it’s time to go on runabout!
- Another idea is taking her somewhere at the trial (this may not be possible at all trials) for a running really fast fun time for her. You say you do focus work, which is great, but it may also help for your dog to have a chance to blow off steam.
Does anyone else have any ideas to help?