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Tuesday Training Byte: Is your dog burned out?

Over the decades of having competition dogs in rally and obedience, on occasion I have had a dog decide it wants to quit. This shocked me as my dog always was eager during dog class and training sessions, but then shortly after getting in the ring, my dog lagged behind in the heel free and would slowly sit a couple of moments after I halted. I was so embarrassed. It was hard to figure out because everywhere else he was an eager worker. I decided to give my dog a break from competition. We still did dog class and brief, fun training sessions. I took that dog with me to a show where I had one of my females entered in obedience. He was crated ringside. He seemed totally fine. Competition can be stressful even for a seasoned competitor. The dog show environment is loud and chaotic, but my dogs seem to handle it well. He had previously won highest scoring obedience dog of all working breeds. There had not been any traumatizing event happen, so I was puzzled. I entered him again thinking that he would be refreshed and excited to go in the ring again. Not so. I believe that if the dog and I are not having fun, then what is the point? I got the dog certified as a therapy dog and he was a happy camper! He loved therapy work. His obedience training made passing the test easier. He liked showing off his commands to a group as well, as long as it didn't involve competition. Sometimes revising goals is important if we really care about our dog enjoying the activity or endeavor.

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