Sunday, January 9, 2011

Competitive isn't always good.

I don't think too many people know this, but I actually thought long and hard about starting to trial dogs in agility. I shy away from competition because I get too competitive too fast and then set unrealistic (perfection) standards for myself. I don't enjoy myself as a person when I go over the top. I can't always see it coming or prevent going over the top.

I love being active, and in sports. But, when it comes to competition I haven't been able to figure out exactly where the line is that I should not cross for myself. That is, I move from fun loving to a perfectionist very fast. When the perfectionist in me surfaces it sucks all the enjoyment out of competition for me. I totally loose perspective!

That happened to me today AGAIN! If you have followed my blog you may have noticed that from time to time I wish that Split was a more confident dog. One of the things leading to my decision to try and be a better trainer (that is, more consistently reward for good work) was that I wanted to try and build Split's confidence. I have seen some of the fruits of that in the last several weeks practices. His speed and bounce in his work has increase noticably.

We just finished a weekend trial and I have to say I ended it on a VERY frustrating note. Our last run was with Split and Standard. The run started off great but then we had an off course. Once that happened Split went into a little bit of a wilding. He actually took three obstacles before I could get him to stop and think! It totally frustrated me!!! The frustration came from the frickin quest for the perfect run and Q. 20 20 hindsight, was that a more confident dog I was seeing?

We have been working on contacts REALLY hard over the last month. In Split's final run, I was frustrated because we didn't Q. I should have been really, really proud, he held all of his contacts until he was released. He even held them as I started motion again and then released him. There was nothing tentitive about his contacts, just a solid hold! How awesome is that??!! I didn't celebrate those moments like I should have. Perfectionism got the best of me!! I should have praised him RIGHT ON THE SPOT!! Ops, am I asking myself to be the perfect trainer?? No, I am asking myself to focus on the right things.

Shame on me.

I have been working on nothing but contacts for the last month and guess what? The contacts for both dogs were much improved.

  • Split's contact were much more solid all weekend.

  • Split and Tip only blew one teeter the whole weekend. Much better than it has been.

  • When I finally got my head together and asked for a 2o2o DW contact from Tip, she was right on it! Good girl.

Now I will say that I have gotten rusty has a handler in the past month and that is not the dogs fault.

Putting together the dog/handler team is like creating a fine wine. I should enjoy it as it ages and becomes better and better. Team's aren't built over night and the quality of the run should not be measure in the Q.

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