Agility class for reactive dogs? Heck yeah!! Here are the crucial points to manage:
- Everyone in class has done hard work on behavior change. It’s not the first option for a reactive dog and is meant to complement private instruction.
- Students are aware and have mad skills that allow them to manage their dog while respecting the needs of other teams.
- Dogs are at a point where going to a training space with dogs in crates or cars is not an immediate trigger to go over threshold.
- The dog is comfortable and able to work with specialized equipment to ensure success such as a double leash, head halter, or muzzle.
- The agility trainer must not only have a solid understanding of how to teach an agility class but most importantly knowledge of behavior. Exercises should be broken down to ensure generous reinforcements at a very high rate. The trainer should be alert to subtle signs of a dog spiraling up in arousal and have an array of tools to diffuse, distract and re-direct.
- Dogs can enter and exit the facility, including potty breaks, with zero chance of unexpectedly meeting another dog. This can be arranged by having the class as the last class of the night, having other members of class be escorts for teams and using volunteers.
- Some dogs are more comfortable in the car. If the dog is in the car, she should be crated and covered so won’t be triggered or trigger dogs walking by. Alternately, the entire car can be covered.
- Dogs that can wait in a crate must each have a separate space. The space can be in a bathroom, closet or other creative use of small nooks. If that’s not possible, dogs in crates must be surrounded by a visual and physical barrier like ring gates or sturdy x-pen covered with fabric to minimize any dog unexpectedly approaching the crate.
- Class size must be reduced in order to allow the extra time it takes to move dogs and to ensure dog’s safety.
- Owners must be on board with taking time and care in successfully moving dogs in and out of the training space.
- Progress in learning obstacles and handling may never translate into being able to handle all the stresses (aka behavioral shitshow) at an agility trial. However, there is an agility league where runs are submitted on video.
Six Week Course - $200
Thursdays, 8:00p-9:00p at 143 Bow St, Everett, MA
Each class is limited to four dogs (sorry, full)