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    1. #1
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      barry581's Avatar
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      Damn friendly Labradors!

      Brooks and I had two shows this weekend at the Talbot County Kennel club shows. We scored a 196.5 for first place in Beginner Novice A yesterday. We NQ'd today, as Brooks felt it would be good to rise up with his front paws off the ground when the judge went to touch his head on the sit for exam. Other than that he actually did better today than yesterday.


      I did make an observation and wanted to see what more experienced people think about it.

      I was set up pretty close to the ring entrance, and was watched a lot of people warming up their dogs. There were a fair number (Open A, and Novice A and B) dogs, that were pretty much spot on while they were warming up, but struggled with basic things in the ring. For example: A dog failed to move on the initial movement on the healing pattern. The dog just sat there as the handler moved maybe 20 feet until the judge gave the halt command. The dog finally moved to the handler, but didn't do nearly as well as when I was watching them warm up. A good number of the dogs forged past the handler, or fail to sit when the judge call HALT. Yet, these same dogs sat perfect while warming up.

      My observation is this. During the warm up, a good number of these handlers were having the dogs do things that they would not be doing in the ring. Could this have caused confusion for the dogs once they got in the ring and were doing things different that they were doing during warm up?

      Any input would be appreciated.

    2. #2
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      I don't know enough about the discipline. I'm assuming the people in the warm-up area know what the pattern is?

      But, apart from that...

      Why does a dog/handler team need to "warm up" prior to running in the Ob. ring? Do they need to warm up muscles or something? I don't know a lot about it, but it would not seem to me that that would be the case. (Maybe with vigorous jumps and stuff, but not with the basic ring. Am I right?)

      I'm curious because in Field sports there is absolutely no "training" on the grounds and no "training equipment" and in a lot of grounds, you can't even take a dog to air off-lead. No bumpers, "no heel-sit-mark-etc." So... there really is no "warm up", especially as it relates to particular skills. You kinda run the dog with whatever the two of you have brought to the game that day. It is what it is.

      Tell me what they are doing in the "warm up" area?

    3. #3
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      Sorry about your NQ. You have your BN title though right?

      What you are seeing is ring stress. Could be the dog has not been sufficiently weaned off of treats/toys/other reinforcers. Could be the dog is weirded out by the judge and/or stewards. Could be the dog is feeling conflict and was not proofed correctly. Could be the dog is stressed because the handler is acting "weird" to the dog (handler stress). Could be the handler did not wean the dog of off "chatter" meaning that sometimes people supply constant feedback to their dogs and then suddenly go silent in the ring and the dog is wondering what's wrong. I could go on...

      Dogs stress up (get frantic -- inappropriate zoomies, jumping, biting/grabing, stress panting, etc.) and they stress down (become slow -- lose their autosits, lag, unable to pay attention, can't set up or set up very slowly, slow down in the retrieve/recall, just sit there during recall, etc.) and they do all kinds of other things that show discomfort -- scratching, yawning, whale-eyed, slinking, sniffing. Sometimes a dog trained with much kindness will go into the obedience ring looking like a beaten homeless dog when you know for a fact that the dog is not and maybe you even train with that person and never see the dog act like that. Stress is different from distractions, but a more sensitive dog will experience conflict.

      This is a huge focus at FDSA. If you look at the class line up, there are tons of classes for becoming ring ready, which all basically deal with stress and getting the same or close to the same performance in the ring as you get at home. There are skills about ring stress including ring confidence, back-chaining and other classes that deal with decreasing this issue. I just watched a ring stress seminar last week, in fact. Skills are the easy part for a lot of people. I know I am not only speaking for myself when I say that if I could video myself and Linus doing obedience in a familiar non-trial location and get judged that way, we'd have high scores and a Utility title by now!

      When I first starting trialing Linus, he got his BN and RN legs before he was a year old with mostly all good scores and no NQs, but he was not the same dog in the ring as he was in our typical training sessions. Part of me wishes that my dog wasn't so sensitive, but at the same time, having a sensitive dog means that I have a thinker who genuinely cares how I feel and is a team player. He was always focused and a quick learner and among my training buddies, has the nickname Mr. Perfect. My handling has to be crystal clear and consistent and clean for him and I have to be prepared and react to mistakes right away, I can't just leave him hanging while I figure out what to do. I have to be "on" and manage him. It has taught me a lot. I have a friend with a Lab who is not sensitive and she won't have issues with ring nerves, but her dog is not a thinker or much of a team player, so while she is way more experienced that I am, her dog is far behind in the skills department compared to Linus. Not that having a stressy dog can't be frustrating, but I love training him, he's just so much fun, so I don't mind waiting to get back in the ring even though skills wise, he is beyond ready.

      At the end of the day, it's more important for me that he is enjoying his time in the ring and at least feeling confident than it is for me to get a Q or a ribbon. We are a team and he didn't ask to do this, so I work hard to get him to love it. I also want excellent scores and precision in addition to a happy/enthusiastic performance. It would be easier if I just went in the ring and "got through it" and got my Q, but it's not my style.
      Last edited by Labradorks; 09-10-2017 at 11:08 PM.

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    5. #4
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      I think the handlers are relaxed outside the ring, smiling at their dog in warmup, and as soon as they hit the gates and set up, the adrenaline kicks in and handler's face goes white and stressed. The dogs sense it. Then the handler uses a completely different (oftentimes far more serious voice) and dog says 'uh oh... I'm in trouble' or worries that mom is unhappy...whatever. I know of one gal locally whose dog learned he could jump out of the ring at the set up for rally advanced (offleash) and I tried to tell her over and over that she was far too stern sounding w/ him in the ring. Just novice handling stress imo. Our best trials is when I screw up and have something to laugh about w/ the judge.
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    6. #5
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      Too bad about the NQ. Not a lab, but penny has such a hard time at letting people touch her and not moving to snuggle up or jump haha. It's a "good" problem but indeed a frustrating one!

      Agree with the above regarding ring stress. Rock stressed down, and I don't think i really understand at the time what was going on. I also realize I was messing up the cue pattern by rewarding his slowing down (making it part of the reward pattern). (Rally-O). But I think many of us, even when we try to be calm, just freeze up enough in the ring that our body posture changes/tone of voice changes.

    7. #6
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      Quote Originally Posted by windycanyon View Post
      I think the handlers are relaxed outside the ring, smiling at their dog in warmup, and as soon as they hit the gates and set up, the adrenaline kicks in and handler's face goes white and stressed. The dogs sense it. Then the handler uses a completely different (oftentimes far more serious voice) and dog says 'uh oh... I'm in trouble' or worries that mom is unhappy...whatever. I know of one gal locally whose dog learned he could jump out of the ring at the set up for rally advanced (offleash) and I tried to tell her over and over that she was far too stern sounding w/ him in the ring. Just novice handling stress imo. Our best trials is when I screw up and have something to laugh about w/ the judge.
      ^^^ This, for the most part. But that said, even very experienced dogs and relaxed handlers get what is called “first exercise syndrome” and no one knows exactly why. My trainer and I speculate it has to do with the transition from being in the busy, crowded area outside the ring to suddenly being in the wide open, quiet ring with just you and the judge. The absolute best thing you can do about this is to practice the transition (i.e. ring entrances) over and over and over keeping them up and light. For example, we have them come into the ring, set up, release and reward. You want them thinking about something other than why did the environment suddenly change.

      And to answer TuMicks’ question, although people do drill their dogs outside the ring, I don’t think it’s really that helpful. No actual training is allowed on the grounds but you are allowed to warm-up, which ends up translating into no strong corrections, but food is fine. I see the purpose of the warm-up as two fold. First, yes, there is a component of warming up muscles as the dogs will often have been confined to a crate for the preceding hour or two, and especially in the advanced B level classes they might be asked to go right into the ring and take a jump, so it is helpful to have them up and moving a bit first. Also though, I use it to cue the transition between relaxed and highly focused. When I walk them at a show on a potty walk, they are under what I think of as “pet” dog rules - no pulling, or otherwise acting the fool, but sniffing and looking around is fine. When we are warming up and subsequently in the ring, they are in a controlled, focused, hopefully perfect heel. It requires both different behaviors from the dog as well as a different mindset and I use the warm up to get them there. For an experienced dog like Chloe, it’s probably 80% about the muscles and energy (as she has often been napping in the crate and needs to wake up) and 20% of “we’re going to work now”. With the younger ones, it’s a lot of reminding “we are working now so you need to ignore everything but me”. Hope that helps.
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    9. #7
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      [QUOTE=Annette47;160595]^^^ This, for the most part. But that said, even very experienced dogs and relaxed handlers get what is called “first exercise syndrome” and no one knows exactly why. My trainer and I speculate it has to do with the transition from being in the busy, crowded area outside the ring to suddenly being in the wide open, quiet ring with just you and the judge. The absolute best thing you can do about this is to practice the transition (i.e. ring entrances) over and over and over keeping them up and light. For example, we have them come into the ring, set up, release and reward. You want them thinking about something other than why did the environment suddenly change.



      QUOTE]


      I think you may be on to something with the "first exercise syndrome". We've done 2 day shows on 3 occasions. Since we've been the last class of the day, the places have been pretty much deserted by the time we go into the ring, especially the second day. I doubt there we 10 people there when we went in yesterday, so it was pretty quiet when we warmed up. Brooks heeling has been much better the second day, especially yesterday.

      A lot of good info to think about!! Thanks!

    10. #8
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      [QUOTE=barry581;160605]
      Quote Originally Posted by Annette47 View Post
      ^^^ This, for the most part. But that said, even very experienced dogs and relaxed handlers get what is called “first exercise syndrome” and no one knows exactly why. My trainer and I speculate it has to do with the transition from being in the busy, crowded area outside the ring to suddenly being in the wide open, quiet ring with just you and the judge. The absolute best thing you can do about this is to practice the transition (i.e. ring entrances) over and over and over keeping them up and light. For example, we have them come into the ring, set up, release and reward. You want them thinking about something other than why did the environment suddenly change.



      QUOTE]


      I think you may be on to something with the "first exercise syndrome". We've done 2 day shows on 3 occasions. Since we've been the last class of the day, the places have been pretty much deserted by the time we go into the ring, especially the second day. I doubt there we 10 people there when we went in yesterday, so it was pretty quiet when we warmed up. Brooks heeling has been much better the second day, especially yesterday.

      A lot of good info to think about!! Thanks!
      Typically the dog is acclimated over time, so the second day the dog may be more focused, less distracted. Linus prefers lots of background noise. It's harder for him if it's silent and then all of a sudden there is a loud noise. He also does well with outdoor locations. Every dog is different. If you want to learn more about this, exercises to do to help alleviate it, etc. I can point you to some good information. There is also a ring confidence class which goes through different exercises, but you could probably find the exercises online and practice them. They are not complicated.

    11. #9
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      [QUOTE=Labradorks;160608]
      Quote Originally Posted by barry581 View Post

      Typically the dog is acclimated over time, so the second day the dog may be more focused, less distracted. Linus prefers lots of background noise. It's harder for him if it's silent and then all of a sudden there is a loud noise. He also does well with outdoor locations. Every dog is different. If you want to learn more about this, exercises to do to help alleviate it, etc. I can point you to some good information. There is also a ring confidence class which goes through different exercises, but you could probably find the exercises online and practice them. They are not complicated.
      Link????

    12. #10
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      [QUOTE=barry581;160627]
      Quote Originally Posted by Labradorks View Post

      Link????
      ADVANCED CONFIDENCE BUILDING FOR THE OBEDIENCE AND RALLY RING (self study class - pay for it)

      RING CONFIDENCE FOR OBEDIENCE, RALLY, AND AGILITY (class - paid)

      Bunch of results for RING CONFIDENCE (free)

      Bunch of results for RING STRESS (free)

      You can do a search for Ring+Confidence on YouTube and you'll get Fenzi class videos, but you won't really know if they are showing something good or bad because the feedback is in the class. But, you might get some ideas.

      The best thing I ever did for myself was take the Bridging the Gap class with Denise Fenzi. I also have the book The Art of Proofing: Preparing Your Dog for Obedience Trials, which I use with my friends when we train.

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