On Saturday night 16th May we had Lauren Langman speak on Preparing your dog for Competition. She was an energetic and enthusiastic presenter. Her webinar was very interactive and she answered people’s questions during her presentation.
Some of the things she addressed were to not just focus on the problems, as where your focus goes, so does the energy.
She had 3 rituals she follows for competition.
1. Don’t walk your dog before a trial, walk them afterward. The same applies to training. Have a down day before and/or after the day of competition as it can be a long stressful day for your dog and for you.
2. Ditch the bowl, your dog earns all their food. This applies to every day as well as at the trial. All their daily food allowance should come from playing games, training, Kongs, snuffle mats and scatter feeding. You can play games to get your dog warmed up ready to go. Use games that apply to your individual dog. Ie if you need to rev them up then do games with a lot of movement, eg spins. If you need to calm them down then do static games or tricks. Eg sit pretty
3. Your dog should be crated or stay on his boundary bed while at a trial and only bring him out to toilet and for the event he is entered. Don’t give them any freedom at a trial or wander around meeting people with your dog. You want your dog calm and chilled when waiting for your event and then spring to life and become animated on cue. So you need to have trained a high value for their bed/crate and have played Boundary games.
Don’t constantly feed while on their bed/crate/boundary. Treat only when calm and vary when you give the reinforcement.
Can cage the food while on the bed so it is delivered slowly.
Warm up before your event.
Have a dynamic warm up.
Do some figure of 8 walking if your dog needs some calming.
Massage your dog
Don’t line up or queue near the ring
This applies to all sports. Don’t do the obedience/agility or your sport every day. Only do it say 3-4 days per week, but play games every day. These should only be done for about 3 minutes at time.
Choose games that apply to your dog. For example play Magic Hand if you want to teach your dog to heel with his head up watching your hand.
If you have a sniffy dog, then don’t scatter feed.
Sniffy dogs can be taught not to sniff by allowing them to sniff as long as they want, but only in a small designated area. As soon as they stop, mark and reward and allow them to sniff again. Eventually they don’t want to sniff that area anymore. Mark and reward. Lauren called it ‘fill your boots.”
If you have an Agility dog, don’t jump him for the sake of jumping. Every dog only has a certain amount of jumps he can do in his life so only jump when it necessary.
If your dog has a behaviour problem, don’t let them rehearse that behaviour. Give them a break from trialing and come up with a plan.
Teach your dog to disengage from the environment by using DMT. Distract, mark, treat.
Play lots of games with your dog so the dog has lots of value for you. See Sexier than a Squirrel challenge.
Drive and Desire
We want our dogs to have lots of desire. This can be achieved by playing games like the Whip game, doing spins and playing lots of games.
We want a dog that is eager and ready to go and is twitching in anticipation to go.
When getting your dog ready to enter the ring, play a game to support the behaviour. Eg sit/drop/stand
Build a great relationship with your dog.
Play Games that grow confidence.
Fitness – your dog has to be mentally and physically fit. Triple F program.
Skills – break them down into small bits.
It is vital to get yourself/the handler in the right state of mind. Do things to that make you feel great. Examples might be listen to music, play with your dog, or get moving/air sprint. How you as the handler is feeling impacts on your dog.
Focus on what you want