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Categories: Recall and Come

Q. My dog gets the 'zoomies' at the agility field and it is impossible to catch her. She also will only play tug indoors, not outside. Can you help me?
Hi Cindy,

I've a few questions regarding the training my 2 1/2 year old Sheltie. I've recently started agility classes despite not having attended any other formal dog training. We have been following your 8 Weeks to 8 Months, Food, and Tug DVD since she was a puppy. We hardly train outdoors, we have very few dog friendly places to go to. The only time we go outdoors are for walks around the neighborhood.

Recalls
Whenever we arrive at the agility field, my Sheltie gets super excited and does a lot of zoomies. Her zoomies last for a very long time and it is impossible to catch her.

After the initial zoomies, when we are on the course attempting to do agility, her zoomies will be triggered again when she sees another dog nearby or a bird (the dogs are not crated up in the club and free to wonder). If someone walks past with their dog, she stops what she is doing and runs after that dog and the zoomies start again. I've tried calling her and running away from her to the other end of the field, but she just ignores me and carries on with her zoomies.

I am not able to put a long leash on her as the leash will get in the way when she is jumping. I'm not sure how to go about stopping the zoomies and also how to working on having solid recalls. We do not have a good recall to begin with and in this situation, her recalls are non-existent.

Tugging
The other thing is to get her to tug outdoors. As we have never tug outdoors, she refuses to tug. She would look at me like I was an idiot as tugging is only done indoors. What do you think I could do to get her interested to tug with me outdoors? She use to spit her food out when we were outdoors and would prefer to sniff and check things out instead of taking any treats. She is much better now and will take her treats enthusiastically but nothing has changed with tugging.

Thank you so much in advance for your help and answering my questions.

A. I would stop allowing her off leash right now. By continuing to allow this behavior you are going to make it harder and harder to fix. I would stop focusing on the actual agility training and go back to basics and work only engagement and recalls. If you can't get engagement, recalls or tug outside then that's what you should be putting all your training energy into. As someone that does agility myself I see this all the time. Not only is it not good dog training it's also dangerous as she could run by the wrong dog and be attacked. If your dog can't control herself at class there is no way she will ever be able to go to a trial and be successful.

I would suggest Training the Recall and Advanced Concept of Motivation.

Your homework is to start getting tug outdoors and to begin working on restrained recalls, starting with your backyard.

This may take months and months to get any results but don't give up. A dog that does the zoomies when off leash without a recall should NOT be off leash, period. Dogs need to earn off leash privileges.

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes
  
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