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Categories: Schutzhund

Q. I also have a younger dog I'm doing Schutzhund with and would like to do agility also. I've been told not to do both at the same time as it will bring confusion. Any thoughts on this?
Hi Cindy,

We have a 4 year old German Shepard. We took obedience classes with her when she was young and did agility with her as she grew up. We have a bit of an attention problem in that when she get excited about an activity she feels she no longer need my guidance. I am trying to be polite but actually she is not. She blows me off. I tell her she is being rude and that is not acceptable. If we are doing agility lets say we will start off okay, but she get excited and runs her own course. She runs every piece of equipment and does not come back to me until she is finished her play time. I have been told to take her off the course as she can not use the equipment if she does not listen. I am them to take her back to doing a piece of equipment and getting a reward then another and then getting a reward. Brake it down so that she learns that in listening is fun. We have been working on it but making very slow progress. Tunnels are the hardest. Any piece of equipment near a tunnel in her opinion can not be taken on its own. In practice I can get her attention and bring her back to me or on to another piece of equipment, but when we put it together for a full course she loses it. Didn?t know if this is something you might have a suggestion about.

We also have a 20 month old Shepard and we thought that we might like to try agility with her. We have started Schutzhund training with her and our trainer feels that if we are doing Schutzhund then that is all we should do. He feels that it is confusing to the dog. He feel that we should only concentrate on one type of training. We love to learn new things and would like to do both or even other training with our dogs. How do you feel about this.

Cathy

A. If you are clear on your training, there is no reason that a dog can’t participate in multiple sports. Unfortunately, most people leave too much “grey area” in the dog’s foundation so it makes it confusing to the dog.

From your description of your 4 year old dog, I would guess that your dog doesn’t have a clear idea of what the rules are and you haven’t properly taught her to be engaged with you. Telling her “she’s rude” doesn’t mean anything to her. I would stop doing agility with this dog right now. Otherwise all you are doing is letting her practice the same bad behavior over and over.

I have a few recommendations for you. Start from scratch and teach a communication system that you can use no matter what sport you choose to do. Dogs need to learn to engage with you to get what they want, and if they don’t engage with you then they don’t play. It’s very simple but a lot of folks have trouble sticking to it. Give up the idea of actually doing agility right now and go back to teaching her that to get what she wants (agility) she needs to follow your direction.

I’d read this article on marker training.

I would then recommend

The Power of Training Dogs with Markers
The Power of Training Dogs with Food
The Power of Playing Tug with Your Dog

Don’t get ahead of yourself and let her run off leash on a course, because then if she makes the wrong choice you will have reinforced her for blowing you off again.

Retraining dogs like this can be a very long and tedious process, and if you aren’t consistent you may never fix it but just don’t get in a hurry and spend the time now working on the foundation of engagement. It’s really the only way. You have to make playing WITH you more fun than running around like a wild woman.

I’d also do all of the same work with your young dog, because the foundation for Schutzhund, agility, obedience, ringsport and search/rescue is all the same.

You can go to our streaming video page to watch Michael Ellis’s lectures and some training clips.

I hope this helps. Cindy
  
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