Help From Seasoned Dog Agility Competitors
Experience is the best teacher, completely unbiased and not swayed by politics, but the lessons many times are not easy. So, we asked for advice from seasoned competitors on one of the hardest aspects of dog agility, a bad run. What do they do when they have a bad run or even a bad trial. We got so many great ideas we wanted to share them with all of you.
The number one piece of advice that may seem basic, but is easy to forget in the “heat of the moment” after a bad run. Remember why you are there, where you came from and that your dog has no idea it was a “bad” run. They only know they are with you and trying to please you with the side benefit of doing what they love to do. For those of you running a dog lacking confidence or new and thus inattentive, these words are deeply true. They will feed off your emotions and if you are down it will lower their confidence as well.
The second gem of advice is to focus on what went correctly or improved in your runs. You are your biggest critic and most times a bad run feels worse than it actually is. This is where a second set of eyes and a video come in great, especially for beginners so you can see it wasn’t all that bad. But, before you start picking your run apart spend time with your dog letting him know how much fun it was for you to run with him. One competitor had a super idea of having two notebooks. One for keeping scores and the other for writing down all the positive things in each run.
There were also many warnings about not letting a Q block your sight of what is really important. Your relationship with your dog. For those that have a high competitive drive this can be hard sometimes. In the end ribbons fade, trophies get dusty but your relationship with your dog will remain strong if you keep this in mind.
Another important warning is if you stop having fun at any point,you need to stop, take a step back and reevaluate where you are going. Don’t be afraid to take some time off, in fact, your dog can suffer burn out as well if you go non-stop. Try a different direction for awhile. Rally, herding, service work are all bonding venues that will give you and your dog a healthy break without getting bored.
And in the words of Black Beauty’s mom, “Do your best, leave the rest. It will all come right some day or night.”