Life After a Dog Agility Trial Accident
Dogs just like people have their own ways of handling a scare or an injury. Some refuse to stop and want to power through an accident while others become fearful and lose all confidence. Falling off a dog walk, hitting a jump standard, or getting tangled in a chute are all common accidents that can happen to young and experienced dogs alike. Recovering from accidents, trip ups, and slip ups are a vital part of agility training, and life learning!
Get back on the horse. Unfortunately, when an accident happens at a trial you most times will not have the luxury of trying the obstacle again. Provided your dog did not sustain an injury and was not scared senseless you can choose to finish the course or at least a few confidence building obstacles. Most times you will have to go back a few steps in your training and build your dog’s confidence back up slowly. Then look for a fun match where you can take your time and if necessary, repeat the obstacle so your dog gains confidence in the competition ring as well. Take your time and go at your dog’s speed, there is plenty of time to compete.
If there’s an injury, take care of it. If you even think that your dog may have injured themselves or if you have one of those dogs that will power through an injury only to hurt themselves further, take them out of the ring. Go over them with a fine tooth comb and if necessary, get them to the vet or chiropractor for a closer inspection. Continuing with an injured dog could mean irreparable damage to your dog ending their career.
Learn from the wreck! Most accidents are human error in setting the dog up for the obstacle or asking for too much too soon. This is where a second set of eyes is a real asset when you are competing. Even if it is a friend running a video camera so you can take the footage back to your coach if they are not watching at the trial. Even if it is the dog’s error, seeing it from the outside can help you plan a training lesson to work on the problem.
A mistake in training and practice isn’t the end of it – it can be the beginning of a whole new training experience, which you and your dog will come back from even stronger!