Laughter is a Key Element to a Successful First Dog Agility Trial
Not only is a sense of humor necessary for a successful first trial it really is a key element to dog training in general and especially dog agility. This is a game that should be fun for you and your dog, though maybe not so much at the first trial if there is too much stress. For those that have started agility with an older or rescue dog that first trial can be somewhat ominous. As well as being overwhelming to those who have done all their training in the “backyard.” So don’t put anymore into it than you can get from your dog. You are the leader and you set the tone and should have an idea of what your team can accomplish.
After doing your homework, practicing away from home and even attending fun matches or touch n’ goes, you got to get into the water and try to swim. Sometimes we just get into our own heads and think we are alone in our first venture. That isn’t true at all. Reach out and you will find loads of people who are there for their first time as well. Plus, many if not all the seasoned competitors love to see new faces and give moral support as well. Remember, all competitors feel stress, nervousness and doubt. You are not alone, unless you want to be.
So where does laughter come in on all this? You must be able to laugh at your dog and yourself when the unexpected happens. You will forget courses, but your dog has no idea. You have to laugh it off so your dog keeps upbeat and happy. If your dog has a bout of zoomies, locks up or runs off, it is up to you to set the mood and laugh with them, encourage them or gather them back and love them for who they are.
It is your first trial, not your last. There is plenty of time to get it right, but only a short time to set the tone for all your future competitions. So keep it light, keep it fun and be willing to let go allowing you and your dog room to make mistakes. Keep smiling, keep laughing and always remember it’s about you and your dog first and foremost.