Saturday, November 8, 2014

Helping your fellow competitor

I have pondered this topic for several years now.  Should we or should we not share how we train something in agility (for money or free).  Or even give advice (when asked) on what went wrong and how to fix it.

I guess my opinions have become very clear to me on this one.  Yes, we should help our fellow competitor!

In helping our fellow competitor I believe that we are increasing the body of knowledge in our sport and advancing the sport, we are helping to raise the competitive level of everyone, I an learning more about the topic myself, and we are paying forward for our own time in need.

Why should we add to the body of knowledge.  Just look at the history of agility.  When I started with Tip 8 years ago my first day of instruction with her was running an AKC Excellent course with the dog on leash.  If people had not shared how to train new dog we would still be doing that.  I believe our training methods are better and easier on the dog and human today.  Not to mention, more fun!

Why should we raise the level of competitiveness around us?  Personally and selfishly speaking it helps me be a better competitor.  I want there to be a ton of competition around me, I want competition to challenge me to improve, I want the bar HIGH!  I want to watch great agility all the time.  I want to be wowed by improvement and performance.  I can only achieve these things if I agree to help lift those in need up!


I think the concept of learning more when you have to teach it is not new.  I have a burning desire to always learn my topic better.  By helping others I help myself.

Paying forward in my mind speaks for itself.  If we are all helpful and giving to our community, doesn't that make a much better community?

Now the caveat!  I want to help, really I do.  But I have found that those who ask casually for help are not the best people to help sometimes.  Not because they aren't in need, but because they are not ready to receive.  I think that people have to be hungry for the help and knowledge.  They have to have that burning desire to improve, not just the weekend wish to improve.  You have to be willing to take risks, put yourself out there, and open your mind to new concepts even if they don't make complete sense at the time.

So pay it forward, share the skills you are good at, and open your mind to strengthen your weaknesses!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Be THE FUN for your dog

In a nut shell, you must be "the fun" for your dog! You must be the leader of the fun, the initiator of "it's time to play", and the one who can play through any kind of situation or stress (even if you can't).

 Also subtitled "Leave your baggage at the door".

If your dog won't play, it is your job to teach them.

This blog entry was really hard to write. Mostly because there is so much to say on this topic and it is so important and fundamental to our success as a team. All kinds of teams deal with issues around this topic. Daisy Peel eluded to this ( when saying that she had to be a certain person for Frodo, I have to be a certain person for all my dogs and different for all of them, but then again I have to be a certain person for my husband too.

They should adore you!
I am not being who I am not, I am recognizing that I have certain personality traits that should probably be kept in check (or come out) for this person or dog.

I have had a number of students lately that are having trouble with their dogs. Either the dog is shutting down or getting wound out of control, both can be stress behaviors. There is a reason we use dogs as therapy animals. They are very sensitive to our emotions and issues! We need to remember that.  We, as their human partners need to recognize, honor and respect that.

There are some dogs that can power through our stress and brush it off, but in my experience, the majority will react somehow.

If your dog wouldn't say that you are the funnest person on earth, you are missing HUGE opportunities with that dog. Why would they want to give everything they have (energy-wise) to someone who is boring, neutral, stressed, ie...not fun. So, the real trick for us is identifying what the stress is, admitting it, and letting it go (at least for the moments you are with your dog).

It doesn't matter what the stress is: are they going to weave, will they take all 18 obstacles twice (yes, I have had that happen), will they leave the ring, will they shut down at the startline, I hate need to leave it behind.

Find the method that works for you: write each problem on a piece of paper and put them into a Tupperware so that you can leave them behind, or breath deep and think of the beach, or run a mile.. I leave my troubles at the door by remembering how amazing my canine partners are, and what they do for me everyday.

I remember that every problem is a training challenge and I bring the ones that stress me to the top of list.