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Tuesday Training Byte: Got the blahs?

Recently I had a conversation with a high-level rally obedience competitor. She has one of those herding breeds that has a high working drive and focus. At the end of the second day of trials and going in the ring twice each day, her dog just quit on her! I call this "pushing the pig up a hill". All of a sudden, her normal energetic, happy dog just dragged himself pathetically lagging behind her and refused the jumps and sits. It is always a good idea to have a vet check your dog over if you see a sudden change in behavior. But absent any physical issues, suffice it to say, her dog was no longer having any fun, and was in fact quite bored. I had a similar embarrassing moment in an obedience competition. At a previous trial my boy received the highest scoring of all working breeds in obedience. At this trial, he intentionally knocked over the high jump and walked on the broad jump planks. The dog is clearly saying, I really don't want to be here and do this, but I will go in with you, just because I love you. Time to take a break. Have some short but very fun interactions with your dog that tend to spark enthusiasm. I may be time to try something different altogether, like lure coursing or agility. The stress of competition, the show environment, and being away from home and the routine peace and quiet may have become too much. Time for a break. Take a vacation from training and competition for a bit.

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