Will I Ever Remember a Dog Agility Course?
I am sure at some point every dog agility competitor has fallen victim to a case of “sometimers,” those embarrassing moments when the course you knew before removing your dog’s collar leaves your mind. For some, it is the moment you enter the ring and for others it may be in the middle of the course. Because let’s face it, unless you are going slow, not many can keep track of the numbers while dealing with handling technique, dog antics, and personal issues.
But the good news is, you are not alone. In fact, when we asked what big obstacles you had to overcome, course memorization won hands down. So here are some fellow competitors’ stories of their “failing” memories so you know you aren’t alone. They also overcame the obstacle and so can you.
After taking several sessions of agility lessons with a ten year old Ridgeback many years ago, I discovered that it was going to take a lot for me to negotiate the courses at anything past a slow walk. My dog was enjoying himself, but I consistently got lost mid-course. I could not sufficiently recall the course layout enough to overcome my difficulty in finding the next obstacle. The group I was training with became insistent that my old dog begin jumping full height and generally were less than complimentary about working with hounds. At that point, I became disenchanted with agility and decided to take a break from the sport.
I never gave up, though my old dog left me. With the advent of Rally, I began working through courses that way, learning to negotiate the signs and course patterns at a more comfortable speed. At last, I’ve gotten another Ridgeback boy and we are taking agility classes again with a new trainer in a much more positive environment. We haven’t made it through an agility course yet, but “the new kid” is showing such great interest that I just have to try again. Wish us luck as we slooowly introduce enough obstacles that I can try again to negotiate a course at something past a walk. I think we’ll find a way to succeed this time around!
Donna Work has encouraging words:
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, even after advancing to more difficult levels! Now, I can even learn a course just in the walk time, without having studied it beforehand. If I can do it, anybody can!
My golden retriever, Jenna, and I took an agility class together a couple summers ago. She was only a year old, with lots of energy, so I figured it would be a great way of giving her an outlet (I should have named her dynamo!). My greatest concern for me was remembering the course. My greatest concern for Jenna was that she was no longer as fearless as when she was a puppy. I wondered how she would do when faced with some of the larger challenges on the course. To my surprise, she was was able to overcome any initial fears (except for the see saw)and had a great time! Since we were there for fun I didn’t press the issue – we always ran around it (in fact she would slow down when the see saw was in sight and too close). I loved our classes and after two years finally ordered equipment. Jenna will be so happy!
Thank you all for sharing and remember that it takes practice to get to where you can compete, but nothing but competing can make you better at competition. It takes time for both you and your dog to gain confidence in yourselves and each other. Then you will find it easier to remember courses as you learn how to see lines and you are not consumed with your team’s performance. Do you have any tricks to help you remember courses? Leave them in the comments section below and help fellow competitors beat this hurdle.