First thing; It gets better….. or rather you and your dog get better … you really do. Training does help. You both improve with time. It just takes work. No ones perfect first time. Promise.
It’s totally okay to forget your right from your left! AND to get out on the floor and forget everything you have just watched displayed. Lots of things are going on and your brain can get a-bit over run. Just relax and do your best; it’ll be enough.
Some dogs have strong “pester power”. Mine is one of those. They want to be friends with everyone! They will cry, whine, bark and seek out any dog they can and bother them till they play. This can be embarrassing, funny, frustrating, noisy and just a little annoying. But it does get better! In general your dog learns he or she can’t whine ALL the time and does start to pay more attention to you. DON’T BE EMBARRASSED or you’ll spend half your time red faced. If a dog with pester power is bothering you or yours; be kind. The handler is probably embarrassed and doing there best. And the dog just wants to be friends after all.
If your dog is a “bubble dog” it’s absolutely fine!! Likewise if your dog needs to be muzzled. Most people (and pooches) that attend classes know that some dogs have had bad experiences or just like their personal space. It’s okay and should be respected. If you see a muzzled dog turn up to class you know their owner is responsible! So just remember they may need a-bit of understanding and a little bit more space. Try not to freeze the handler out because they are sat in the corner or because their dog has been less than friendly to yours. At the end of the day both handler and dog are doing their best. Don’t assume that muzzle = disobedience; Normally it’s the nervous aggression dogs who are really clever and do well at the agility. They will surprise you…You just have to remember to keep the pester power dogs away (like mine!).
Those “perfect” pooches aren’t always so perfect. Some times they mess up and do there own little thing. A dog has a brain and, despite wanting to please us, their own will. So sometimes you say “come here” and they just go there; and there is any where but where you told them to go. It happens to all of us (I promise) no dog and handler are 100%. So find solace.
The dog that never does as he is told will have his day. Trust me! When you least expect it he will shock everyone (And if your dog is that dog we are all rooting for you!).
Watch out for the unexpected excitement. The dogs are all sat by there handlers; calm and collect. Then your on the floor… pulled off your chair because a random wave of excitement has suddenly gripped your pooch. Or as you calmly walk off the floor he’s decided to lunge towards a dog… taking you with him. Beware! Always expect the unexpected.
Having a reactive dog doesn’t mean you have a bad dog or an aggressive one! My dog is one of those. A dog barks and Duke barks back, an owner shouts at their dog and Duke barks, dogs growl at each other and you have guessed it: duke barks. Not only that he jumps, howls and whines. He’s a big baby. And if your dog is like mine he’s reactive but soft as can be; wouldn’t hurt a fly. Don’t worry. They become less reactive to everything with a bit (a lot) of work.