Your Biggest Obstacle In Dog Agility Is…

11-2012-sub2We posed this question and got such a great response it would be too lengthy to share everyone’s comments, but we wanted to share a good sample.  You see, we really are not that different from each other.  We all have had obstacles we have had to overcome whether it be physical, mental or emotional limits, dog agility has been the healer for almost every kind of ail between man and dog.  So enjoy these stories of everyday people with everyday dog agility issues they have had to overcome.

Barbara Gordon shared the beginners lament, “Few people I know, including myself, started out as expert dog owners, trainers, and handlers. We all stumbled and tripped over our dogs, learning how not to embarrass them. We have all had dogs that presented us with difficult challenges. The kind that keep us up at night sorting through our options, excuses not being one of them. The kind that cause us to interact with other knowledgeable dog folk and toss about ideas. The kind that make us take a good hard look at ourselves and what we know about the dogs we live, play, and work with. The kind that make us buy DVDs, books, and go to seminars, searching for the answer.”

Jester shared issues which a majority of us have had to face, “My biggest problem? Oh dear, the list is so long I don’t know where to begin… an uncoordinated, out of shape novice handler with bad knees, poor course memorization skills, and horrible timing…. training a young high energy, reactive dog (and a younger adolescent who had a strong foundation that has made only sporadic appearances since his brain went on spring break)…failure to develop and stick with a consistent training plan that tracks what we’ve learned and what we need to work on…bad case of ring nerves…so many issues I was beginning to wonder why I ever thought I wanted to play this game with my dogs…Then I realized that my biggest problem was a focus on “perfection” that kept me from appreciating the good things that happened in a run that wasn’t quite ‘perfect.’”

And if you didn’t succumb to perfectionism how about self confidence like Matildasmom shared, “I would say the biggest obstacle for me at this point is my lack of confidence in myself as a handler. If I felt surer of myself, I think Matilda and I would be fine.”

Keep in mind it isn’t always necessarily us or our dog.  In some cases it is a bad match in instructors.  Kajama experienced this early on, “When Katy and I started agility 2 years ago, she was 5 and I was 63. Our first obstacle was our first instructor. He pushed us too far, too fast and after 4 months he was running us through full courses. We were extremely sloppy to say the least. So we quit.”  Not the fairytale ending many of us have.

And we have heard so many stories where folks like you do not have a local club to practice with, but they didn’t let that stop them.  Jean wrote, “When the agility bug bit us,the biggest obstacle was finding a place to practice.  A once a week class is not enough to really learn the skills to compete. I got the agility in a bag and took the show on the road, vacant fields, closed parks, even parking lots.”

Sometimes we start in dog agility to help our dogs overcome their obstacles such as shyness, fear and worse.  Laura and her dog found healing in the ring for fear aggression.  “Our biggest obstacle in agility has also proven to be our greatest triumph – fear aggression & helping overcome it through agility. My 2 year old lab/BC mix suffers from fear aggression and is very fearful of strange dogs and strange humans.”

Sometimes we start with the intent of helping our dog and in the end it is us that gets the help.  Donna Work shared how competition helped her confidence, “When first starting agility (and even some now), my biggest obstacle is thinking that I wouldn’t be able to remember a course once I’m out there with my dog. Things are going too fast for me to pay attention to the numbers. I was afraid that between me trying to direct my dog, paying attention to her, and making sure I was doing the right thing, that I would get lost on the course. I soon found that I COULD remember the course…”

That is the most wonderful thing about dog agility.  It helps us, it helps our dogs and it helps the bond we have with them as well as others.  We grow together as a team and learn trust, communication and the value of solid relationships.  We know there are so many other stories out there just like these and would love to hear from you.  Your stories help others know they are not alone in their struggles and the payoff for seeing it through.