Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What makes the perfect coach/instructor?

Joining dog agility bloggers in writing about the topic of "What makes the perfect coach/instructor".  To see other blogs,

I have been doing agility for about 6 years now and I think my answer to this question probably would have changed several times.  Also, I think that this answer changes depending on where my dog is in his/her career and me in my agility career.

There are a couple of traits that I think are essential to the perfect coach/instructor no matter where you are in your career.
  • Trust - You have to trust your coach.  Trust is the foundation of the relationship. 
  • Flexibility - The coach needs to be able to adapt to the team's needs. 
  • Patience - Everyone learns at a different pace
  • Listen - The coach is able to hear what you are trying to say
  • Bring out the best in you
  • Lead by example

An average coach will make you feel his or her greatness.
A perfect coach will make you feel yours!

I also believe that you should probably have several coaches or instructors in your agility career.  Not everyone has a diverse enough skill set to teach everything you need to know from the basics of dog training to handling international courses.  The attributes of the perfect instructor are always the same, it is just the name that changes from time to time.
At different times I have needed help in the mechanics of dog training, the mechanics of movement on course, motivating my dog, better strategies for handling my dog, believing in myself,  course analysis, and mental management, just to name a few.  There has been no one coach who could do all of that, at least for me.  Seek out the coach that you need at that time.  Seek out the instructor who brings out the best in you.

Lately my perfect coach/instructor is my dogs and my favorite tool is my video camera. 

  • Trust  - Dogs are so honest.  Their feedback is always honest and without bias
  • Flexibility - The dogs are very flexible in doing what I need as long as the pay is fair
  • Patient - They keep playing with me, they don't care what the game is.  They are always quick to forgive my lack of skills and try again.
  • Listen - Well some would debate this, but my dogs do listen when the pay is fair.
  • Bring out the best in me - They keep me smiling, and show me that pleasure is in the simple things.
  • Lead - They lead by example.  They live in the moment, always have fun, enjoy the simple things in life and know the value of a good belly rub :)

My dogs have made me feel my greatness!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Taking a moment to appreciate my agility life

I am not an old timer in agility, but I have been in it long enough to have a lot of ups and downs.  So, when I have an "up" time I certainly know enough to take a moment and fully appreciate an accomplishment.  It keeps me driving through to the next opportunity to appreciate our accomplishments.

We had a USDAA trial this weekend.  I entered two out of the three dogs (Tangle and Tip).  It was the very last weekend to qualify for Team at Cynosport and we were honored to help another team qualify.

The icing on the cake was that both dogs ran great and had several notable accomplishments.  Some can even be measured in terms of wins or titles :)

I don't enter Tip in all the events.  At 8 years old, I am conservative about the mileage I put on her.  She ran 2 Standards, Gamblers and a Jumpers.  She ran beautifully, listened really well, and just generally seems to be feeling great.  She got a 1st in Jumpers and set the fastest time on course of all dogs/all jump heights, Performance and Championship.  I think that constitutes feeling great, for which I am thankful!

Tangle had an awesome weekend as well.  Huge accomplishments for the weekend, but what really gave me pause was looking back on his last 8 months (since he started USDAA).  My initial goal with Tangle this year was get him mileage, running with confidence, and qualified in at least one USDAA Cynosport event since it was going to be in Denver.  I would say that we more than met that goal.

(Pinch me now)

Tangle has:
4 Team qualifications
3 Grand Prix qualifications (2-2nd places)
A Semi-Final Grand Prix bye at Cynosport
1 Steeplechase local qualification at Regionals (3rd Place)
Starters Dog, and Advanced Dog Titles and is now running everything at the Master's level in USDAA

But, really, best of all.  The speed and confidence that he has picked up in 8 months is AMAZING to me.  And, best, best of all....he barks in his crate and comes out ready to play at trials.  Seriously, yes, this is the best to me.  Speed, titles, etc...come if the dog loves the game.  Well, this dog LOVES THE GAME!

So, as Tangle's handler, he put me on notice this weekend.  I was in his way several times so I better get my ass moving faster :)  What an AWESOME problem to have!!