Keeping Calm Dog Agility Trial Advice

That “Keep Calm and Carry On” meme that’s running around the internet makes me smile.  I really enjoy it! In the spirit of agility, I made my own banner – Keep Calm and Clean Run!  Planning ahead is the key to keeping calm at a trial, and a calm trial means a better run.   Many people who are new at agility trials (or even hard core competitors) can find the start gate area stressful (so many people, so many dogs, so much noise), and depending on how organized the club is, the area can sometimes be confusing.  Here’s a list to get you started on keeping this part of competing stress-free and calm.

  • Plan with the Catalog.  One of the things you can utilize is the catalog you get when you sign in.  Bring a highlighter and mark your name in the running order.  Tear out the sheet and keep it in your pocket.  You should then be able to stay away from the congested area near the gate steward (where the sign is showing the running orders) and simply keep an eye on the dogs in the ring (comparing to the list in your pocket) to quickly get an idea of when you’ll be called to run.
  • Early Check in.  Check your dog in before his or her division starts!  Don’t last second sign-in, it’s not fair to the steward or other competitors.
  • Dog Protection.  If you are in the congested area, it may be a good idea to tuck your dog between your legs, (Train this at home, though some dogs take to it naturally) or leave your dog in his crate so he doesn’t get stepped on and frustrated.
  • Stay clear of the stampede.  Come early to the trial, get signed in and figure out where you are in the running (see tip one!) and then get away from the stampeding area.  Go for a quick walk with your dog if you’re late in the running, or have trick time ringside if you’re early in the running.
  • Buddy System.  If you have a cohort (and personally I love to trial WITH someone- we can talk about the course and Q’s and NQ’s and… I like to have an agility buddy!) pick which one of you goes and gets things in the trample zone, while the other stays with the dogs!
  • Warm up Jump.  Don’t hog the warm up jump.  It’s discourteous and adds to the chaos.   5 or 6 times, a few minutes at best, should be sufficient.
  • Socialize elsewhere.  No socializing in  the high traffic areas!  You’ll make things harder on everyone else, and isn’t it a pain in the butt to have to walk around a large knot of people in front of the Stewards’ table? I know I get annoyed with it.

Share your tips with us!  We’d love to know how you keep calm and avoid bruised toes at trials!