Agility disaster
  • 0
  • Gossy has been taking agility classes (foundations and novice) for just slightly over a year now and we had the opportunity to enter a mock trial. She was accepted for standards and jumpers. Because it was a different facility than where we train, I was a little concerned about leaving her the crating room - I thought she would try to escape from the kennel when I wasn't with her (everyone was also assigned a job in the trial ring so we'd learn all the different tasks). Well she didn't try to escape but it was not good either.
    We didn't have to wait long to start (the general instructions, a walkthrough, and only a few dogs ahead of us) but the standards were not fast, mostly tunnels and a lot of turning back and forth with jumps, boardwalk, weaves in the back half. She did the first tunnels then balked at the tire (we haven't done much of that in class) and at the table and then just went and sniffed at one of the posts (I thought maybe a dog had peed on it). Okay so we were eliminated and the judge was nice and said to put her through the tunnel again so she ends on a good note but she didn't pay any attention to me and I had to go an pick her up to leave.
    Okay so I was disapppointed but I just went and sat with her and talked nicely and gave her a few treats until I had to take my turn to work and she had to go back in the crate room. During the next event (we weren't entered) I just walked her around the excersize area and tried some practice jumps but it was clear she didn't really want to be there - she kept trying to head for the door.
    The jumpers were the next event and I thought she'd do well because she loves jumps and they were set up so it would be a fast running course as well. Well she took the first jump, barely cleared the second, and then just simply walked off (not zoomed) to the wall and just walked along sniffing. I could do absolutely nothing to regain her focus (not even "let's go home") - she might as well been deaf. The judge asked if she didn't like jumps and I said these were favorites and he was nice and said well just make up a sequence just to get her on a positive note. She eventually came to me so I took her and sat down with her and just talked nice and gave her some treats.
    There was another sighthound person there and she was very nice and told me Gossy was overstressed and had simply shut down. I explained this was a new facility for us and she said this was not unusual for sighthounds.
    We have agility class tomorrow evening and I hope she'll be back up to her usual excitement there (she's really a star in class).
    But my question now is how to get her comfortable to going to different facilities (signing up for a class at the different schools is out of the question).

  • 0
  • Oh, that's disappointing! Do you have any opportunities where you could take her to observe and not compete? Perhaps watching the other dogs would pique her interest, and you could just make it a fun experience with no pressure. Even going to other venues (not necessarily agility) to give her more exposure to unfamiliar places with lots going on might help. I know with horses exposing them to as much "show environment" at as many different locations as possible helps them get used to the confusion and enables them to focus on the job when you do compete.

  • 0
  • Sorry! This, I consider, normal B behaviour. Shadow knows ALL of his commands-every single one of them. When we first went into the Rally ring, he listened to most commands, when we went for the last two legs, he decided on the first go round to be quite good, HOWEVER, on the second go round, he would not listen. I had to repeat commands and stations at least two times on about 6 stations. He passed, barely. I had people coming down from the bleachers to watch. One of the spectators, who had 'normal' dogs, came to me and stated, "what happened? He did the first round so nicely!" I replied that this was a typical basenji and he decided not to do it. No point in getting mad at him that's just the way he is. I would just keep workin on it, in different places so she gets more comfortable. Personally, I find when a B is in a routine, they generally behave, however, when it is a new routine, they can, and do, decide to work however they please. But, this is just my opinion only based on what I have seen, including seasoned Basenji's who had titles out their wazoo.

    Sorry for your inconvenience, I just have learned to laugh and try to work with it.

  • 0
  • I agree that showing a Basenji in any kind of performance event is likely to be fraught with difficulties. I loved Elspeth Ford's book that mentions a couple of obedience Basenjis…....one taught itself to do a forward summersault in the drop on recall. The reaction from the crowd was immensely reinforcing of the behaviour, so he would repeatedly NQ on the exercise. The other one took nineteen shows to get her CD, and had been in thirty trying to get a leg on her CDX. Seems in one show she sat in front of one of the stewards (whom she knew) and gave a long yodel, because she didn't understand why her "friend" was ignoring her! Yes, it helps to have a sense of humour! :)

  • 0
  • I'm sorry it didn't go well, but honestly I would not be that disappointed. I think you had a good first run and think of this as a journey that that the both of you are on. The more exposure she gets the more comfortable she will be with some additional training (CU games would help to). I watched the agility trial at the National and trust me those weren't all perfect runs either and some were not too disimiliar from what you described.

    I hope Agile or Sinbaje read this, they both have a lot of experience.
    And talk to Sally, she runs Sonar in agility.

  • 0
  • I had so much fun with Becca when I took her for beginner agility! The instructor was like…lots of dogs don't like the teeter so we are going to work with that today. Well Becca mowed over that like it was nothing. The next time she was like...well lots of dogs don't like the chute with the fabric closed. She mowed through that too. We were doing a practice agility thing too going through the course and Becca was doing everything so well. Then she got scent of the doggy towels that were drying on the side of the practice ring. Well she ran over there, grabbed a couple and started rolling on them. The instructor was like...ummm what is your dog doing? I had to explain to her that B's like to scent themselves on wet towels. I couldn't get her to do anything after that.

    Don't be too upset. Keep your chin up and she will do it if she feels like it. We all know this is the way of the Basenji!

  • 0
  • Thanks - I had never seen this behavior in her before so it really threw me - and I do look on it as a learning experience but I just felt bad for Gossy.
    My agility instructor handles aussies so I don't expect her to understand basenji quirks, but consequently I don't get the "now remember basenjis do/don't … "
    And I will talk to Sally - she's my breeder and friend.

  • 0
  • I would take her to events where she can just get used to the sights, sounds, smells and excitement of a trial. It takes time for some to adjust to all the hubbub and realize that all of the activity is a signal that we get to play that game we play in class. It is the same as people bringing the pups out to trials, race meets, and shows even if they are not entered, just to get them used to venues so they know it is no big deal.

  • 0
  • @wizard:

    Thanks - I had never seen this behavior in her before so it really threw me - and I do look on it as a learning experience but I just felt bad for Gossy.
    My agility instructor handles aussies so I don't expect her to understand basenji quirks, but consequently I don't get the "now remember basenjis do/don't … "
    And I will talk to Sally - she's my breeder and friend.

    And consider joining BCOSW if you want to commiserate :P with others. Including Sally, I can think of at least 5 people who run their basenjis in agility in the club. She can sign your application, and so would I.

  • 0
  • I think mostly everyone has covered what I would tell you. Yes, this is sort of typical, not just of basenjis, but of many dogs that tend to "stress down". Zooming would be stressing up, been there too! The Control Unleashed book is what really helped me understand a lot about stress in dogs. And yes, I've had bouts of Zest! having "stage fright" for lack of a better word. Sometimes Rescue Remedy will help, but it's really only part of the solution. You do need to expose Gossy to many different place to do agility (or even just basic obedience). Hopefully you can find someone local who has some equipement in their yard that you can borrow. Or perhaps just taking a couple of jumps to somewhere else may help. I think it's important to end the session before your dog quits on you especially in a trial situation. About a year ago Zest started freezing in the ring. So, I travelled 2 hours in the winter to a trial and our first run I did about 1/4 of the course. And celebrated like we'd just gotten a MACH on the way out. Z likes it when I'm animated. It took a few trials before we were doing the entire course, but we got there. (And she was in Excellent by this point, so it wasn't like it was her first few trials.) This weekend on her first run, she ran out of the ring after about 1/2 the course and when I went towards her, she ran up into the stands. She's never done that before. Her 4th (and last run) of the weekend (sunday) she did a beautiful run with only one R (so, we didn't qualify, but it was a HUGE improvement over the previous day).

    Also, keep a book. Note place, date, course and anything else you think might have an outside chance of affecting Gossy. I have place, date, time of arrival, time of run, temperature, course, if I used RR, if we spent the night in a hotel, and write down what she did/didn't do and anything odd that happened. You may start to see trends or, hopefully, improvements over time.

    The other thing you may want to do if possible is to enter a jump height lower when you first start competing. I entered Z in Novice Perferred the first few times. Then I'd entered her in regular Novice, just to get as much ring time at the novice level as i could. Even so, I may (or may not) have rushed things a little. Yes, i know Gossy loves jumps and jumps easily, but that's not really the point.

  • 0
  • Even in the show ring… Basenjis will let you know when the "shut" down. They turn from an outgoing happy dog to one that wants to get away from everything and everyone.....

    The more that you expose her to different situations without stress of competion the better... IMO

  • 0
  • Oh yeah i've had 'the brakes' put on in the show ring…..also along with the basenji freak out. Now that is embarrasing! Especially being an owner/handler!

  • 0
  • @krunzer:

    Then she got scent of the doggy towels that were drying on the side of the practice ring. Well she ran over there, grabbed a couple and started rolling on them. The instructor was like…ummm what is your dog doing? I had to explain to her that B's like to scent themselves on wet towels. I couldn't get her to do anything after that.

    Well, that gave me a good laugh! :) Too bad you didn't catch that on video. Oh those basenjis and their wet towels!

  • 0
  • Well it was definitely a learning experience! Not only did I learn more about the trials themselves but I learned about a new bahavior in basenjis and I''ll know now if it happens again. I only wish I had come here to the forum before I went to the trial - I appreciate the tips. I really had no clue what her behavior meant and it unnerved me (which probably unnerved her even more). I will see about taking her "to visit" other venues and we'll take it step by step (ring by ring?).

  • 0
  • And if it makes you feel better, you and Gossy are probably not going to do anything that hasn't been done before. I've seen dogs run out of the ring, not come out of the tunnel, not go into the tunnel, not take a certain jump, run amuck, not move off the start line, run into the other ring, not come off the top of the Aframe, jump off the teeter, refuse to move on the teeter, refuse to come off the table, pee/poop in the ring, "discover" their tail while doing the weaves (that was Jet the trying), lay down under the Aframe and refuse to move (that was Digital the brindlewonder kid, in his defense it was an outdoor trial and HOT - who was smarter?). I've also seen handlers trip, fall, run into jumps, take wrong courses and forget the right course (i've done both of the last 2). Not trying to give you more stuff to worry about, just want to know you're not alone. (And most of those things I've listed were not done by basenjis, or not done only by basenjis.)

  • 0
  • LOL - I will remember it all for the next time. :D

  • 16
    Posts
  • 1951
    Views
  • Log in to reply