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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I signed up for the next class at my local training facility- it's the last one we need before we can take agility classes. I'm really excited. I'm just worried that Delilah's going to yap the whole time.

We took a few months off between classes partly for financial reasons and partly because I wanted to work with her so that she would be calmer and quieter during class.

The last class we took, I had to be actively working with her the whole time or she would just yap. At first it was because she was really nervous and reactive, but then she started liking class and would yap because she was so excited (she LOVES the trainers and the dogs and all of the treats!)

In the past few months I've been doing some work with her:

- Bought Control Unleashed (one of the trainers recommended it) and have been doing some of the exercises in that book.

- Protocol for Relaxation (only started that recently though).

- Practicing her obedience in the house (she can't deal with winter temps outside- it's 40*F today and she's still cold!)

- Taking her to pet stores and counter conditioning her to people and dogs and also practicing obedience there.

- Mat work in the house (haven't been able to take it outside yet because of the weather).

She's doing okay, but she still yaps a lot! She's also on high alert whenever we go somewhere- partly because she's nervous, but prey drive seems to be playing a huge part in this. She fixates on things she wants to kill, whether those are squirrels or leaves blowing in the wind. And if she doesn't see anything she wants to kill she's looking for something. She's also starting to get obsessed with lights. I was walking her the other night and she looked up in the sky and fixated on the moon- started screaming at it and trying to jump at the sky. She was looking up at it the entire walk.

I'm just desperately trying to teach her to calm down and we've had some progress but still a long way to go. I'm getting really nervous about the class. I had told the trainer she was doing better when we signed up but she's still really yappy and excitable. The trainer has told me it's okay and they don't mind BUT it's distracting to me and I feel like she's disrupting the class.

What else can I be doing to calm her down? Should I just take her to a park and let her run around before class so she'll be tired...?
 

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I like my guys to be fresh and ready to work for classes. It's just my experience that lots of exercise right before class causes them to have less ability to cope and are not thinking as clearly.

I've seen similar behavior in dogs in my classes... Sometimes coming right out of day care or owner having exercised them thinking it would help them settle. Often doesn't as the problem isn't excess energy. The issue is lack of impule control and/or stress. Owner basically causes trigger stacking to occur.

I would continue on with relaxation and matwork. I teach matwork from day one in class and it really cuts down on the barking and helps dogs settle during down time. I also encourage people to bring a ''pooch pacifier'' (stuffed kong, bully stick, etc.) To give on mats when not actively working dogs. Visual blockers (we use blankets over ring gates) also helps a lot.

With my own guys lately in classes, I've been utilizing their crates. They seem to actually do better not having to sit in a group with pressure on the entire time we wait our turns. I just have their crate beside my chair and give the choice. Either in crate or on mat. They are free to do either but often choose the crate.

Excessive vocalization is very often frustration, not just excitement.Solution normally lies in handler mechanics, rate of reinforcement, and clear criteria. All stuff your trainer should be able to help you with.

Something else that can happen, and your trainer should also be able to help with if this has happened, is that sometimes barking becomes a superstitious behavior in vocal dogs. They bark a lot initally when working, quiet was not set as a criteria, and they end up thinking the bark is actually part of the behavior. Ie. Spin = bark and spin or sit = bark and sit. Not just spin or sit quietly. It's something several people we regularly train with are struggling with.
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Katie was always the barky dog in class and I tried many different things with her (most of what you listed).

Crating, as kmes suggested, has been amazing for her. We started because it's required for agility, but I plan to use it in other classes we take.
 

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I like my guys to be fresh and ready to work for classes. It's just my experience that lots of exercise right before class causes them to have less ability to cope and are not thinking as clearly.

I've seen similar behavior in dogs in my classes... Sometimes coming right out of day care or owner having exercised them thinking it would help them settle. Often doesn't as the problem isn't excess energy. The issue is lack of impule control and/or stress. Owner basically causes trigger stacking to occur.

I would continue on with relaxation and matwork. I teach matwork from day one in class and it really cuts down on the barking and helps dogs settle during down time. I also encourage people to bring a ''pooch pacifier'' (stuffed kong, bully stick, etc.) To give on mats when not actively working dogs. Visual blockers (we use blankets over ring gates) also helps a lot.

With my own guys lately in classes, I've been utilizing their crates. They seem to actually do better not having to sit in a group with pressure on the entire time we wait our turns. I just have their crate beside my chair and give the choice. Either in crate or on mat. They are free to do either but often choose the crate.

Excessive vocalization is very often frustration, not just excitement.Solution normally lies in handler mechanics, rate of reinforcement, and clear criteria. All stuff your trainer should be able to help you with.

Something else that can happen, and your trainer should also be able to help with if this has happened, is that sometimes barking becomes a superstitious behavior in vocal dogs. They bark a lot initally when working, quiet was not set as a criteria, and they end up thinking the bark is actually part of the behavior. Ie. Spin = bark and spin or sit = bark and sit. Not just spin or sit quietly. It's something several people we regularly train with are struggling with.
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This is a great explanation.
 

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Over the past week, I've been playing Susan Garrett's crate games and I have noticed a fairly large difference in my guys already. Usually there is a lot of pawing/whining when one was in the crate and the other was working. Much calmer, much higher value for crate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Delilah's first class went so well! There were only two other students and there's also an assistant trainer so lots of one on one time! She yapped quite a bit in the beginning but settled down eventually.

We're doing a lot of off leash work in this class so the dogs have to be in covered crates when it's not their turn and that helped a lot! Also, it's the same trainer we took the last class with and she said that Delilah's looking really good and I'm doing a good job with her!

It was a little embarrassing because she was the only little dog and the worst behaved one so I get worried about people judging me and thinking I'm "letting her get away with it" or judging her and thinking that all little dogs are bad.
 
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