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Thread: Exercises or drills to help an amped up dog on test day?

  1. #11
    Senior Member Ted Shih's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1tulip View Post
    So you have two issues. (1) the trial/test-wise dog and (2) a breaking issue.

    I don't know if these are the OP's issues or not. I do know that for my younger dogs (meaning less than 5 years of age), they are pretty jacked up and sometimes need something to take the edge off. Depending on what grounds are available to train on, I might:

    - Do obedience drills
    - Do wagon wheel drills
    - Do blinds
    - Throw stand alone marks
    - Or some combination of the above
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  2. #12
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    Great advice posted to help you with your dog, we always look to the dog as having the problem with test day anxiety but rarely do we consider the handler. How aped up is the human team mate?
    We know that our dogs are sensitive to our moods, live long enough with dogs and we all can recall instances of their near telepathic abilities to read us and our thoughts, yet when it comes to solving problems with the demands of test vs training we almost always focus on the dog rather than the handler. I see the problem of the trial wise dog as one part of the puzzle, the other is ourselves. What weight do you give to addressing your own anxiety, what do you do to quell your own fears and negative emotions?
    Conformation and obedience handlers often speak of the message from within ourselves we "send down the leash", yet seldom do we hear field competitors acknowledge the same effect. We focus on the dog's problem and in doing so, we get most of it right on game day....we pay attention on drills and routines to get the dog focused on the task at hand, we get them listening to us...but if we aren't calm and relaxed how can we expect their heightened awareness of us to be beneficial if we are amped up? How have you settled yourself after watching the test dog flounder on a difficult test, how much time have you given yourself to relax, focus and compose yourself....how much tension are you projecting when you unlatch your dog's crate door?
    As I noted at the top of this reply, there is plenty of excellent advice given already to improve your dog's concentration but in my opinion we all too often overlook the need to steady ourselves as equally critical to improving our dog's performance.
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  3. #13
    Senior Member Wayne Nutt's Avatar
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    Ok Bon,
    I stand by what I recommended as that is what has worked for me with high rollers. When I recreate the test excitement in a training season I can get some good corrections. And be pretty heavy handed. Then test day comes and he saw extra trucks etc and it wasn't so out of the ordinary. Just another day at the office. Just my personal experience. I have tried suggestions like Ted's but they didn't work for me. But every dog is different.

    How have you dealt with this issue?
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  4. #14
    Senior Member BonMallari's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Nutt View Post
    Ok Bon,
    I stand by what I recommended as that is what has worked for me with high rollers. When I recreate the test excitement in a training season I can get some good corrections. And be pretty heavy handed. Then test day comes and he saw extra trucks it wasn't so out of the ordinary. Just my personal experience. But every dog is different.
    How have you dealt with this issue?
    with Brig we "schooled" him like they do with racehorses and the use of a starting gate...except we set up two holding blinds...and made him wait a couple of minutes in each one...I found that he could sense if I was amped up so I would get down to his level and just calmly stroke him and generally not say much to him because that seemed to do just the opposite of what I wanted...he is really the only "high roller" we have had lately...that was until these two new pups came along..its a whole new ball game

    Two other things that seemed to help was to prepare early and let him clean out, sometimes twice...I just think that each individual dog has their own pre test personality and although I cant prove it I think that a handlers anxiety is somehow sensed by a dog..It just seems to me that many of the " ice water in their veins" type handler has the same type of dog...YMMV
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  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1tulip View Post
    So you have two issues. (1) the trial/test-wise dog and (2) a breaking issue. I can't tell you how to fix #1 and folks here know more than I do. But if it's going back to basics to really solve the second problem, maybe a whole different approach might work. If that's the case, then think about Hillman's Traffic Cop. Definitely originated for young dogs, but he says it works on older dogs with creeping/breaking issues... though naturally, it will be a long haul.

    Also consider that running tests might be making both problems #1 and #2 worse (and costing money.) The pro pulled my dog off all competition for an extended period while solving a HT-day-only water-deafness problem. Same with a dog that developed test-day-only mouth issues. May need an extended break from HT's.
    I'll check that out. Also, good advice on avoiding the tests for awhile. I haven't run him for a month or so while I try to figure out how to best help/prepare him for test days.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Shih View Post

    I don't know if these are the OP's issues or not. I do know that for my younger dogs (meaning less than 5 years of age), they are pretty jacked up and sometimes need something to take the edge off. Depending on what grounds are available to train on, I might:

    - Do obedience drills
    - Do wagon wheel drills
    - Do blinds
    - Throw stand alone marks
    - Or some combination of the above
    Thanks Ted. Those ID'd issues are the issues with this dog (I believe at this point anyway). Those are good ideas. I'm also going to see if more group work might help him out as well.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by blind ambition View Post
    Great advice posted to help you with your dog, we always look to the dog as having the problem with test day anxiety but rarely do we consider the handler. How aped up is the human team mate?
    We know that our dogs are sensitive to our moods, live long enough with dogs and we all can recall instances of their near telepathic abilities to read us and our thoughts, yet when it comes to solving problems with the demands of test vs training we almost always focus on the dog rather than the handler. I see the problem of the trial wise dog as one part of the puzzle, the other is ourselves. What weight do you give to addressing your own anxiety, what do you do to quell your own fears and negative emotions?
    Conformation and obedience handlers often speak of the message from within ourselves we "send down the leash", yet seldom do we hear field competitors acknowledge the same effect. We focus on the dog's problem and in doing so, we get most of it right on game day....we pay attention on drills and routines to get the dog focused on the task at hand, we get them listening to us...but if we aren't calm and relaxed how can we expect their heightened awareness of us to be beneficial if we are amped up? How have you settled yourself after watching the test dog flounder on a difficult test, how much time have you given yourself to relax, focus and compose yourself....how much tension are you projecting when you unlatch your dog's crate door?
    As I noted at the top of this reply, there is plenty of excellent advice given already to improve your dog's concentration but in my opinion we all too often overlook the need to steady ourselves as equally critical to improving our dog's performance.
    This is an excellent point. I try my best not to project any nervous energy at the line. But I'm a beginning handler and maybe my effort to be calm can even be off-putting to the dog if he senses something is different with me, not just that its test day. I have two other dogs who do not seem to have the same issue, but maybe they are naturally a little more level headed in any situation than this older dog.

  8. #18
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    Thanks for all the great input here! Certainly not washing out the dog yet. The more I get to know him and his pre-test tendencies, I'm confident we'll find some things that will work to get him ready for a good test day. Thanks again for the useful ideas.

  9. #19
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    I'm a newbie handler and dealing with some of the same issues. My dog ramps me up and I'm sure my nerves ramp her. One thing a judge recommended was mints. At least that helps mask the smell on your breath. I don't know if it works. I keep forgetting until I'm at the test.
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  10. #20
    Senior Member Ted Shih's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Nutt View Post
    Ok Bon,
    I stand by what I recommended as that is what has worked for me with high rollers. When I recreate the test excitement in a training season I can get some good corrections. And be pretty heavy handed. Then test day comes and he saw extra trucks etc and it wasn't so out of the ordinary. Just another day at the office. Just my personal experience. I have tried suggestions like Ted's but they didn't work for me. But every dog is different.

    How have you dealt with this issue?

    I don't think my practices steady a dog. I do think that they help take the edge off a younger dog so that they are more focused about the task at hand.
    Competition does not build character - It reveals it.

    Home of:
    FC/AFC Freeridin Wowie Zowie (2003 NARC Finalist)
    FC/AFC Sky Hy Husker Power
    FC/AFC Freeridin Smooth Operator
    FC/AFC Freeridin Vampire Slayer (2007 NARC Finalist)
    AFC Freeridin Maserati (Double Header Winner)

    www.freeridinretrievers.com

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