I've gotten into the habit of letting Cai run loose in the kennel's play yard to potty and sniff around, and then trying to get him to focus and do agility training. It was fine for a while, but the past handful of times, he's been doing a rep or two and then leaving to sniff or mark, and it's hard to get him back. This isn't good. I want to create a habit of being focused and excited about agility, not checking in and out as he pleases.
Although it's less convenient, I'm not going to let him potty in the yard anymore. I'll take him for a short walk instead. Once we enter the yard, it's training time. However I can't expect him to change his attitude without changing how I'm setting up the training situation.
I've decided to try the Give Me A Break game (GMAB) from Control Unleashed. We've done this game a little bit at home and in agility class. There is a portable wooden fence in the play yard for splitting it into two sections. I'm going to use it to make a box (like the ring gates suggested in CU) and play GMAB in there. We've done it once so far, and Cai sometimes asked to work right away and sometimes just sniffed for a while. The only problem we ran into is that if the kennel dogs start barking, I can't continue ignoring him -- I have to interrupt his reactivity or he works himself into a frenzy and THAT bad habit gets reinforced.
My other option is to keep him on leash to restrict his ability to run off, work on heeling and other close work, and let him off leash once he's better at staying focused. I'm pretty sure that would work, since it's essentially what we did in agility class and other classes, but I'm hoping that GMAB will do the trick and have better long-term benefits.
Wish us luck!