Uninterested Mopey Agility Dog
Maybe you saw your first agility run online or maybe you saw one in person at a local trial. Either way you decide it looks like a ton of fun for you and your dog and you want to have that kind of bond the competitors had. So you buy some equipment or attend a local class only to find your dog could really care less.
We often find it hard to believe when our dogs don’t want to do the activities that we think are fun. It might simply be they don’t understand how fun it can be. Especially with older dogs that are somewhat “set in their ways” it could be they are bored or lazy. The solution in most cases is becoming the most exciting thing in their world.
You need to find what “pushes their buttons” and makes them gitty with excitement. This may be a really delicious treat, such as cheese, cooked liver, or cooked chicken, something they don’t get on a regular basis. It can also be a toy that they really love to play with such as a tug or ball. It has to be something they thoroughly enjoy, but only get from you and only at agility time.
If you dog is play driven, you will need to find the toy that sends them over the top with happiness. Some like toys that require you to participate such as a tug and others love toys they can manipulate like a squeaky ball. Be creative and find that toy they would do anything for.
Then bring it out for short play sessions then put it away while they are still excited about it. Do not let them have unlimited access to it. It’s best if you can put the toy out of their reach but where they can see it. This helps to build desire for the object. For the first few days, take the toy out of its special place and play with your dog.
Act like it is a really big deal when you are getting out the toy. Make your voice high-pitched and happy and your dog will really get excited. Even if the toy is a ball you need to play with your dog with the toy. Toss it, tug it, squeak it, whatever you need to do to play with your dog. After a few minutes, while the dog still wants to play, put the toy back in its special place. Then take a few minutes to pet your dog and praise them.
After you have built the excitement for playing with the toy, you can then use the toy to reward your dog’s behavior. You can go out to your yard and practice your jumps or your obedience lesson and use the toy as a reward for the correct behavior. Try not to scold the dog or do anything to lose their enthusiasm. If they do a behavior incorrectly, forgo the reward and try again.
Once you have figured out how to excite your dog, you will still need to find other ways to keep their enthusiasm at a high level. You will need to find additional toys or treats or games that pique their interest. But once you have revved her up the first time, it will be easier to keep doing it.
And don’t get over zealous with your training sessions. Keep them short and upbeat ending before your dog becomes bored or tired. Remember, it has to be fun for your dog as well as challenging.