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Christy, just to help me understand your reluctance a little better, could you please elaborate a little on what those ... might do (or not do) that could "cause problems"? And what kinds of problems do you think they might be?

Well, here's the thing. I don't know.My reluctance is based upon my history with Bodhi. We started agility training when he was about 10 months old. Somehow, along the way, I inadvertantly reinforced his slowness, as well as causing him to not have confidence and not enjoy the sport as much as he potentially could have enjoyed it. It may not be all my fault - he didn't have the type of socialization that I've been able to do with my younger dog, because he was a bit older than optimal puppy-age when I got him, wasn't well socialized by the breeder, and I didn't know what I know now about socialization.

However, I can't imagine it is all due to that, because I've met many dogs with terrible starts to life, not just less-than-optimal, who are very successful in agility. Temperament may play a part as well but I can never really know exactly what the causes were in making him less confident and more of a worrier than would be ideal for performance.
So, because flyball has more of a "routine" where the dog is basically doing the same performance over and over, I think he has the potential to develop confidence. My concern is that somehow, I might do something that defeats that purpose. Who knows, I might do it anyway, since I'm not quite certain of what it is that I might be doing, but if I can avoid anything that I'm not entirely confident with myself, I think I will reduce the chances of making those errors.
With my younger dog Wylie, I can easily see that your technique would likely work perfectly, as he's very resilient and confident and I haven't got the concerns that I have with Bodhi. It may be entirely in my head, and not Bodhi's at all, but until I can get past it, I don't imagine I would be doing as good of a job as I could. Perhaps I'll give it a try with Wylie to try and bring my confidence level in myself up a few notches.

Christy
My teacher suggests not using the tennis ball at all in regular play.

For some dogs, that's proabably true. It isn't around here. We have tballs everywhere - they live for them.
How cool. I'm still totally green to the flyball world and haven't even attended a tourney yet, but my teacher's team got a 1st and a 2nd last weekend, and they are in the fastest seed.

Franklin's first full tournament was for breaking the tie for the regional Multi Championship. Weird scoring in NAFA meant we won't know for awhile, even though we won the tournament. He ran on the Multi 1 team, which is top seeded (a little pressure)! He runs a 4.6-4.9, which is pretty good for a green larger breed!
Janet Boss
Best Friends Dog Obedience
"Nice Manners for the Family Pet"
Voted "Best of Baltimore 2001" - Baltimore Magazine www.bestfriendsdogobedience.com
Christy, just to help me understand your reluctance a little ... what kinds of problems do you think they might be?

Well, here's the thing. I don't know. My reluctance is based upon my history with Bodhi. We started agility training when he was about 10 months old. Somehow, along the way, I inadvertantly reinforced his slowness,

How might you have done that? Yes, specifically.
as well as causing him to not have confidence and not enjoy the sport as much as he potentially could ... dog, because he was a bit older than optimal puppy-age when I got him, wasn't well socialized by the breeder,

He'd only been with his breeder before you got him?

What kind of socialization do you think he might not have gotten?
and I didn't know what I know now about socialization.

Meaning?
I.e., by the age of 10 months, his socialization was pretty much behind him, right?
However, I can't imagine it is all due to that, because I've met many dogs with terrible starts to life, ... what the causes were in making him less confident and more of a worrier than would be ideal for performance.

Christy, please don't take this the wrong way, okay? I ask a lot of people this same question.
Could your dog's lack of confidence in any way derive from your own?
So, because flyball has more of a "routine" where the dog is basically doing the same performance over and over, I think he has the potential to develop confidence. My concern is that somehow, I might do something that defeats that purpose.

That's what I'm trying to get at. What are those things, yes, specifically, that you think you* could do (or did) that would lessen *his confidence?
Who knows, I might do it anyway, since I'm not quite certain of what it is that I might be doing,

Well, that's exactly what I'm trying to get out. The who, what, when, where, how and why of your lack of confidence.
but if I can avoid anything that I'm not entirely confident with myself, I think I will reduce the chances of making those errors.

What errors? Emotion: smile
With my younger dog Wylie, I can easily see that your technique would likely work perfectly, as he's very resilient and confident and I haven't got the concerns that I have with Bodhi. It may be entirely in my head, and not Bodhi's at all,

That's pretty much what I'm getting at, isn't it? That is, that it may be in your head, and not Bodhi's? And it would help *me* out a lot (in teaching others, because you're not the only one who feels the way you do) if you could just try to explain enough of it to me so that I could better understand it myself.
but until I can get past it, I don't imagine I would be doing as good of a job as I could. Perhaps I'll give it a try with Wylie to try and bring my confidence level in myself up a few notches.

Well, that's entirely your decision, as it should be. I don't want this to sound like I'm trying to talk you into anything, because I'm not. I'm just trying to get at the root* of *your lack of confidence in doing things that are, to me anyway, as simple and easy to do as tieing my shoes in the morning.
Please help me, okay?

Handsome "Jack" Morrison
*gently remove the detonator to reply via e-mail
Q: Because it reverses the logical flow of conversation. A: Why is top posting frowned upon?
How might you have done that? Yes, specifically.

Cheerleading, rewarding slow performances, etc. Basically newbie handler mistakes.
He'd only been with his breeder before you got him? What kind of socialization do you think he might not have gotten?

He was with his breeder till 14 weeks of age, and wasn't exposed to much of anything during that time, aside from crates/ex-pens.
and I didn't know what I know now about socialization.

Meaning? I.e., by the age of 10 months, his socialization was pretty much behind him, right?

Yes, but the crucial time for exposing him to all sorts of things passed before I started agility. My subsequent pup reaped the benefits of all the mistakes I made with Bodhi.
Could your dog's lack of confidence in any way derive from your own?

Its entirely possible. When I started agility training I had no plans on competing and took classes that weren't really very good quality. That set us on a poor foundation and while for the most part I have overcome any "performance anxiety" I don't think my dog has been able to do the same.
That's what I'm trying to get at. What are those things, yes, specifically, that you think you* could do (or did) that would lessen *his confidence?

I don't know specifically. All I know is that using techniques I'm not familiar with or comfortable with seem riskier than trying techniques I am familiar with and comfortable with, and I want to try those first.
That's pretty much what I'm getting at, isn't it? That is, that it may be in your head, and not ... to me anyway, as simple and easy to do as tieing my shoes in the morning. Please help me, okay?

I'm not sure I can, Jack. If I could explain it to you, it would probably be very simple for me to overcome. I appreciate your help, though.

Christy
How might you have done that? Yes, specifically.

Cheerleading,

How would that have reinforced his slowness?
rewarding slow performances, etc.

With the clicker? How?
He'd only been with his breeder before you got him? What kind of socialization do you think he might not have gotten?

He was with his breeder till 14 weeks of age, and wasn't exposed to much of anything during that time, aside from crates/ex-pens.

What happened between 14 weeks and 10 months, when you got him?
Meaning? I.e., by the age of 10 months, his socialization was pretty much behind him, right?

Yes, but the crucial time for exposing him to all sorts of things passed before I started agility. My subsequent pup reaped the benefits of all the mistakes I made with Bodhi.

It's those "mistakes" that I'm trying to identify, Christy.

Specifically.
I haven't really seen any yet.
Could your dog's lack of confidence in any way derive from your own?

Its entirely possible. When I started agility training I had no plans on competing and took classes that weren't really very good quality.

What kind of classes? Traditional? Clicker? Food?
That set us on a poor foundation and while for the most part I have overcome any "performance anxiety" I don't think my dog has been able to do the same.

Hmmnn. Interesting.
But I still think there's something else going on here.
That's what I'm trying to get at. What are those ... you* could do (or did) that would lessen *his confidence?

I don't know specifically. All I know is that using techniques I'm not familiar with or comfortable with seem riskier than trying techniques I am familiar with and comfortable with, and I want to try those first.

I can understand that. But I'd still like to identify something SPECIFIC that you either did or didn't do that would have directly led to this dog's perceived softness, slowness, etc., or your own general reluctance to even try something so simple.
Please help me, okay?

I'm not sure I can, Jack. If I could explain it to you, it would probably be very simple for me to overcome. I appreciate your help, though.

And I sincerely appreciate that you're trying to help me understand. And I don't want this to come off as an attempt to psychoanalyze you. I'm not qualified to psychoanalyze anyone.
But I might be able to help you with your dog, and your self-confidence.
So try one more time to answer those questions I posed to you above, okay?
And then we'll let it go. Okay?

Handsome "Jack" Morrison
*gently remove the detonator to reply via e-mail
Q: Because it reverses the logical flow of conversation. A: Why is top posting frowned upon?
How would that have reinforced his slowness?

Well, according to what I've learned, cheering on a slow performance reinforces it, rather than speeding the dog up.
rewarding slow performances, etc.

With the clicker? How?

Food rewards for the most part. I wasn't taught to only reward fast performances until well after our foundation had been set. Even with subsequent training and rewarding for speed, he still defaults to his comfort level, which is slow.
What happened between 14 weeks and 10 months, when you got him?

Not a heck of a lot. I took him to work with me, took him for walks around the neighborhood, to some stores. Basic pet socialization.
It's those "mistakes" that I'm trying to identify, Christy. Specifically. I haven't really seen any yet.

Well, what I did with my pup was to expose him to everything he'd be exposed to in the performance venue. His breeder did things with the litter such as taking them out individually for car rides, did a lot of playing to build toy drive, gave them mini obstacles like tunnels, so some of the work was already done for me. I took him with me to agility classes and trials so he was exposed to all the sights and sounds and smells etc. as well as lots of people and dogs. I didn't do any of that with Bodhi, nor did his breeder do anything to build the litter's potential in performance. I consider not doing those things to be a mistake, but I didn't know any better at the time.
What kind of classes? Traditional? Clicker? Food?

He had traditional obedience classes, and agility classes were with food rewards.
I can understand that. But I'd still like to identify something SPECIFIC that you either did or didn't do that would have directly led to this dog's perceived softness, slowness, etc., or your own general reluctance to even try something so simple.

See my reply above.
I know it sounds simple to you, Jack, because of your background in it and your experience with other dogs. It doesn't sound as simple to me. If you were here demonstrating, I might realize my error in that perception, but sometimes things don't translate as well in a written medium. I was shown a method that appeared harsh to me, which was why I used that term, but its entirely possible that I would see your method demonstrated and not see it as harsh at all. But, I can't do that very easily.
And I sincerely appreciate that you're trying to help me understand. And I don't want this to come off as ... one more time to answer those questions I posed to you above, okay? And then we'll let it go. Okay?

Did my best to answer them, Jack. Not sure I've supplied the answers that you're looking for or ones you can work with but they're all I've got.

Christy
How would that have reinforced his slowness?

Well, according to what I've learned, cheering on a slow performance reinforces it, rather than speeding the dog up.

I would highly doubt that.
Even if it did, you could correct that pretty easily by withholding it until/unless he runs faster.
Is there no time that he runs fast on the course, or in the yard?
With the clicker? How?

Food rewards for the most part. I wasn't taught to only reward fast performances until well after our foundation had been set. Even with subsequent training and rewarding for speed, he still defaults to his comfort level, which is slow.

Then there are times when he runs fast?
What happened between 14 weeks and 10 months, when you got him?

Not a heck of a lot. I took him to work with me, took him for walks around the neighborhood, to some stores. Basic pet socialization.

Have you ever talked to the breeder about this? Do you know anything about Bodhi's mom and dad? Siblings?
It's those "mistakes" that I'm trying to identify, Christy. Specifically. I haven't really seen any yet.

(nice puppy socialization story snipped)
I didn't do any of that with Bodhi, nor did his breeder do anything to build the litter's potential in performance. I consider not doing those things to be a mistake, but I didn't know any better at the time.

Well, I don't think it necessarily caused what you're describing, but it surely didn't help any.
What kind of classes? Traditional? Clicker? Food?

He had traditional obedience classes, and agility classes were with food rewards.

No clicker training then at all?
But you want to try it now?
()
See my reply above. I know it sounds simple to you, Jack, because of your background in it and your experience with other dogs. It doesn't sound as simple to me.

That's fair.
If you were here demonstrating,

Yup, I sure wish that were possible.
I might realize my error in that perception, but sometimes things don't translate as well in a written medium.

Yeah, tell me about it.
I was shown a method that appeared harsh to me,

Force-training can indeed be harsh, if that's what you saw.

But what I'm describing has nothing at all to do with force-training.

It's not much different than what your vet might do during a routine exam, or what a show judge might do on the bench.
which was why I used that term, but its entirely possible that I would see your method demonstrated and not see it as harsh at all. But, I can't do that very easily.

Nope, I guess you can't.
And I sincerely appreciate that you're trying to help me ... you above, okay? And then we'll let it go. Okay?

Did my best to answer them, Jack. Not sure I've supplied the answers that you're looking for or ones you can work with but they're all I've got.

Okay. You're right. This is probably too hard to do with just written correspondence. And I'd never forgive myself if I actually got you to do something that made matters even worse, even if the chances of doing that were virtually zero.

Handsome "Jack" Morrison
*gently remove the detonator to reply via e-mail
Q: Because it reverses the logical flow of conversation. A: Why is top posting frowned upon?
I would highly doubt that.

Well, no offense intended, but since I've learned that from folks who are quite successful in the sport, I have to think there is validity in the theory.
Even if it did, you could correct that pretty easily by withholding it until/unless he runs faster.

Sure, but old habits die hard, both for the dog and the handler. I have gotten better and for the most part have quit cheerleading, instead whooping it up for good fast performances, but we don't yet have any consistency in that regard. It may just be a moment of fast performance in an otherwise slow performance.
Is there no time that he runs fast on the course, or in the yard?

Yes, he runs very fast at home, where he is comfortable and confident. When new people/places/things are introduced, he reverts back to slow and unconfident.
Then there are times when he runs fast?

Yes, primarily, for a food or toy reward.
Have you ever talked to the breeder about this? Do you know anything about Bodhi's mom and dad? Siblings?

I don't keep in touch with the breeder, aside from running into her at shows occasionally. I don't agree with her breeding and socialization practices, and she's not interested in performance, so isn't open to learning. Bodhi's parents are fairly unknown quantities - his father is a show champion, his mother was sold off shortly after the litter was born, and I've never met either of them. The one sibling that I'm aware of is a very overweight and spoiled housepet.
Incidentally, Wylie's parent are both involved in show and performance, his father a finished champion working on an agility championship, his grandmother and uncle on mom's side competed at the highest levels in AKC, but his breeder can't run her dogs anymore due to health problems.
Well, I don't think it necessarily caused what you're describing, but it surely didn't help any.

Well, if it didn't cause it, then I did!
No clicker training then at all? But you want to try it now?

No formal clicker training classes, no, but I've done clicker training with him for a few years now.
Force-training can indeed be harsh, if that's what you saw. But what I'm describing has nothing at all to do with force-training.

OK. I'm probably confused.
It's not much different than what your vet might do during a routine exam, or what a show judge might ... got you to do something that made matters even worse, even if the chances of doing that were virtually zero.

Thanks, Jack. Like I said, I'm willing to try the technique with my younger dog, because I don't feel as concerned about problems with him. Perhaps that's all it would take to build my confidence. We'll see! Off to an agility weekend now, but I appreciate your input.

Christy
I would highly doubt that.

Well, no offense intended,

None taken.
but since I've learned that from folks who are quite successful in the sport, I have to think there is validity in the theory.

I didn't mean to suggest that it isn't possible, just that I don't think it's what's behind your dog's problem.
Even if it did, you could correct that pretty easily by withholding it until/unless he runs faster.

Sure, but old habits die hard, both for the dog and the handler. I have gotten better and for the ... have any consistency in that regard. It may just be a moment of fast performance in an otherwise slow performance.

Gotcha.
Is there no time that he runs fast on the course, or in the yard?

Yes, he runs very fast at home, where he is comfortable and confident. When new people/places/things are introduced, he reverts back to slow and unconfident.

Which is a pretty good hint that your dog's slowness isn't related to untimely cheerleading.
It's entirely natural for some dogs to slow down when distractions are introduced. Have you ever tried training with the same kinds of distractions you'd encounter at a comp?
Then there are times when he runs fast?

Yes, primarily, for a food or toy reward.

Precisely how and when do you offer the food or toy?
Have you ever talked to the breeder about this? Do you know anything about Bodhi's mom and dad? Siblings?

I don't keep in touch with the breeder, aside from running into her at shows occasionally. I don't agree with ... side competed at the highest levels in AKC, but his breeder can't run her dogs anymore due to health problems.

Wylie is the pup, right?
Well, I don't think it necessarily caused what you're describing, but it surely didn't help any.

Well, if it didn't cause it, then I did!

Not necessarily! Emotion: smile
No clicker training then at all? But you want to try it now?

No formal clicker training classes, no, but I've done clicker training with him for a few years now.

Then he has been clicker trained, at least somewhat?

Could you have been slow on the clicker, too?
Force-training can indeed be harsh, if that's what you saw. But what I'm describing has nothing at all to do with force-training.

OK. I'm probably confused.

You too? Emotion: smile
It's not much different than what your vet might do ... even if the chances of doing that were virtually zero.

Thanks, Jack. Like I said, I'm willing to try the technique with my younger dog, because I don't feel as ... it would take to build my confidence. We'll see! Off to an agility weekend now, but I appreciate your input.

Thanks. And good luck to you!
If you try it, please let me know what happens.

Handsome "Jack" Morrison
*gently remove the detonator to reply via e-mail
Q: Because it reverses the logical flow of conversation. A: Why is top posting frowned upon?
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