Turn Your Dog Agility Nightmare Runs Into Good News

DogPatOh those very first dog agility competitions can be such an overwhelming experience with all the emotions and stress of both you and your dog.  Add to that a bad run and many may be discouraged enough to never come back.  I know we can get busy with their own routines and prep for competition, but there is a tiny thing you can do that could mean the world to another fellow competitor.  You will have to go out of your way, however, if you see someone with a bad run and disappointment, fear or confusion is flooding their face, your supportive words may not be much but they could make a huge impact on them.

Some of our readers have shared their stories of how big a difference it made to them to have a total stranger, yet fellow comrade take the time to talk to them after one of those horrid first runs.  You don’t have to be a trainer or a scholar, just share your “first time failures” so they don’t feel alone.  And for you veterans, I would encourage you to encourage at least one novice handler at your next trial.  Watch their faces and seek them out.  It’s possible that because of your kind words, they will stay the course and not give up.

“I purchased a run for both AKC’s Novice class, as well as the Jumpers & Weaves class.   Sadly, I didn’t qualify for either.  I don’t remember what happened.  I think my dog knocked a bar for one (automatic elimination) and who knows, maybe she ran out of the ring on the other one.  (It wouldn’t be the only time, so that’s why I don’t remember!).  I was SO discouraged.  I remember, however, this nice woman coming up to me and encouraging me with her own story.  She said that a good many people don’t qualify at their first trial.  I sure appreciated her encouragement.”

DancingBeagle wrote:  “One of the best things I ever learned is that it is not what we say to people, but what we cause them to picture. When I see someone having a bad day, I try to tell them why I see them as a future star and point out everything that they did right. So often, we focus only on the one thing that went wrong or the fact that we didn’t Q, that we often fail to see that our dog may have had an amazing performance on some (or all) of the other obstacles. For me, it helps give me a sense of accomplishment regardless of the actual outcome.”

Sideway shared:  “I remember my first competition, it was a disaster! But the nice lady that caught my dog when she ran out of the ring as well as the judge encourage me.  At a competition last month I was watching this little boy I say is must be around 9 years old running his Sheltie. The last day I could tell that this dog had had enough.  The dog never left the start line and then ran out of the ring.  I went to see the boy and told him my story and that whatever happens to you in the ring has happened to somebody else.”

Take those dreadful moments and turn them into gold by sharing with others that you see struggling.  And we would love to hear more of your stories of when someone else’s kind words helped you stay the course with your dog and the sport of dog agility.  Just put it in the comments for all to gain confidence that they are not alone.