Now that I learned a bit more about agility and have some renewed confidence, I will tell my first attempt at trying this sport. When I got my first Papillon, Riyo, I took him to a beginning agility class at an agility club. He was great learning the basic commands in the class, BUT…the instructor wanted the dogs to do an exercise where another person in the class calls your dog, and your dog is supposed to go to them. I still don’t know why this was important for agility, but anyway…that little exercise Riyo failed with flying colors. Not only would he not move toward the other person, he would just stand there and bark at them. There was NO WAY. So, he was not permitted to continue and the instructor referred me to a dog behaviorist. We never got within 50 feet of a tunnel, chute, or anything else agility. THAT didn’t go quite like I’d hoped, now did it.
Enter dog behaviorist. I did contact the lady I was referred to, and she showed up at my house in a little mini-cooper with a bag of chicken and a clicker. Her fee, a mere $300. WHAT? At that time I only had two dogs and more money, so I signed up and she started her first session. As soon as she turned her attention to Riyo, he started barking at her incessantly until he literally almost passed out. I’m not exaggerating. The little dope would bark so rapidly he’d hyperventilate and almost fall over. So she tries standing sideways to be less intimidating, ok good idea, and as soon as there is a break in the barking (aka hyperventillation) she would click and treat. Now in theory this sounds like this could be a good idea. Dog associates ceasing to bark with a treat and learns to stop barking. Now, the flaw in this plan, which Riyo also noticed, is that you must first bark to stop barking. Right?
Three sessions and $300 later, Riyo is successfully trained to bark incessantly when he wants a treat. He still despised the trainer and wouldn’t let her near him, but he’d bark to get a treat. I guess the up side to it was that the barking changed from a aggressive, defensive bark to just an annoying begging bark. And yes, you can actually tell the difference. So to this day, Riyo barks at whosoever may be holding food in hopes of getting a click and a treat. Now THAT didn’t go quite the way I wanted either, now did it.