Ring Prep without the Ring: Arousal Layering

Friday, Oct. 6

4:00PM - 6:00PM

Experience Level: Novice & Above

In this session, teams will work through the process of generalization and proofing that is required for behaviors to hold up under the context of a competition.

Everything from the car ride to the rewards you use to the judge in the ring can impact your team’s arousal level. This impact can cause our precious sports behaviors to break down and “trial-only” problems are quickly developed. How can we improve our training in order to get in front of this common problem? I’m going to show you during this working session! It’s my goal to shift your focus from “I need to calm them down” to “I need to train them to be precise in high arousal” – after all, the entire team will be aroused on the day of the competition!

The process is simple:
1. Write down everything you need your dog to do in the ring and the conditions you need them to be successful in.
2. Split those behaviors into replicable pieces.
3. Turn the dials on those pieces up to recognizable but unlikely situations.

I said simple, not easy. The process does take commitment and creativity on the part of the trainer. Not sure how that should look? Join this working session to see the process in action! Attendance at the Ring Prep Without the Ring lecture is encouraged!

Working participants should have one well-known skill that can be completed on cue without a reward present. Equipment available: jump, tunnel. (contacts/weaves TBD) Other behaviors we can work on: leash removal, start-line stay, and leashing up at the end of a run.

Presenter Bio

Megan Foster

Megan Foster (she/her) has been training in agility for nearly her entire life. With nearly 25 years of experience, She has had the opportunity to work with hundreds of dogs within a large variety of breeds.

She began her agility journey with an American Eskimo and a Westie, both loaner dogs from people in our local training club. In 1999, She began competing with her first Shetland Sheepdog, Buddy. While running him, she knew that agility was what she was meant to do.

In 2003, Ty, another Sheltie, became a part of her life and her agility career took off like a rocket. He was 3 years old and not completely sure of himself, but together, they blossomed into an incredible team, on and off the course! In 2005, She attended her first National event and took fifth place in the $10,000 Dog Agility Steeplechase Finals with Ty. That same year, she became a USDAA Judge, as a 13-year-old Junior Handler, the youngest ever.

Since then, she has competed at the Cynosport World Games twelve times, with eight different dogs. She has also attended the AKC Nationals three times with her border collie, Smack. Smack and Megan also attended the International Team Tryouts three times, earning a spot on the European Open team in 2015, representing Team USA in Germany that year.

She has also had her share of disappointments when it comes to sports prospects. Her second border collie, Shock, was unable to compete to the levels that she had dreamt of due to noise sensitivity and other health concerns that arose late in life. Her Parson Russel Terrier, Shrek, is one of the most talented dogs that she has ever gotten to train, and yet, he very clearly told her that competing was not for him. It is her experience with all of her dogs that has molded her into the trainer she is today. Her current up-and-coming superstar, Sprint, a border collie, is a direct representation of all that she has learned and that she continues to learn about living and competing with these amazing creatures.

She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with her partner and their five dogs: Skittles, Shock, Skrik, Shrek, and Sprint. She coaches dog agility online full-time at the FxAgility School, travels to present seminars, and coaches other agility professionals on their training programs and business ambitions. It is her goal as an educator to guide other dog sports enthusiasts on their path to excellence. Regardless of experience levels, breed choice, goals, and lifestyle, it is her extreme privilege to watch teams build a sustainable version of agility for their team.