Dog Agility Obstacles are not Always Equipment pt 5
Sadly, this is the last of your stories of how you and your dogs overcame their biggest obstacles with dog agility. Some of you had actual issues with dog agility equipment, others with memorizing courses or overcoming fears and nerves. Whatever the obstacle you all have or are overcoming them with the help of the sport and the people involved in it. Keep up the great work and thank you for sharing your stories of trials and tribulations with us and others to encourage and inspire with your positive attitudes. And remember, it is always to early to give up!
Robbin H. says:
I’m grateful to all that have noted that their course memorization ability is their greatest hurdle but that they can and have overcome! We (both my Lab and I) are new to agility and are now beginning obstacles to build on our foundation skills. When I visit trials and see folks walking the course, I wonder that I will ever be able to do it. But just like learning the obstacles for my dog, step by step, I won’t fail him (too badly, anyway! ..and he will forgive me, as he always does. 🙂 I’ve started reading about courses and hope that by the time he is ready, I will be, too.
Barbara Gordon says:
Few people I know, including myself, started out as expert dog owners, trainers, and handlers. We all stumbled and tripped over our dogs, learning how not to embarrass them. We have all had dogs that presented us with difficult challenges. The kind that keep us up at night sorting through our options, excuses not being one of them. The kind that cause us to interact with other knowledgeable dog folk and toss about ideas. The kind that make us take a good hard look at ourselves and what we know about the dogs we live, play, and work with. The kind that make us buy DVDs, books, and go to seminars, searching for the answer. Sometimes it appears there is no answer for the dog that has teeter terrors or creates his own course every time, or believes the name of the game is run through the jumps not over them. How much time and effort have I put into the dog that will not wait on the line or put his butt all the way down on the table? My dogs have taught me a lot about dogs (once I learned how to look and listen) a lot about life ( it’s never easy and straight forward) and a lot about patience and perseverance (giving up is not an option). My dogs have taught me that if I can teach it, they can learn it. And they will learn it when they can, not when I want them to. Finally my dog doesn’t care if we get a title, first place, high in class, or the fastest time, so relax and enjoy the ride.
Ay Chiwawa says:
The biggest obstacle I’ve encountered so far, is the challenge of having to run such a big course (NADAC) with a very small dog and getting it done in qualifying time. When we qualify, we are only a second or two under, and when we don’t, it is a second or two over. My dog keeps right up with me, but I have to work more on getting her to “go on” away from me. She tends to stick pretty close, especially in a trial situation…so I think she just lacks confidence at this point. We are still very new at this. This sport is a great motivator for me to lose that last 20 lbs, though!!!
My biggest problem? Oh dear, the list is so long I don’t know where to begin… an uncoordinated, out of shape novice handler with bad knees, poor course memorization skills, and horrible timing…. training a young high energy, reactive dog (and a younger adolescent who had a strong foundation that has made only sporadic appearances since his brain went on spring break)…failure to develop and stick with a consistent training plan that tracks what we’ve learned and what we need to work on…bad case of ring nerves…so many issues I was beginning to wonder why I ever thought I wanted to play this game with my dogs…Then I realized that my biggest problem was a focus on “perfection” that kept me from appreciating the good things that happened in a run that wasn’t quite “perfect”… I needed to stop thinking about how we looked to others, and just get out there and do it, laugh at the stupid stuff, look at it as a learning experience, and celebrate what we did right. I had to remind myself that there isn’t a precisely defined path that is the same for everyone- each of us starts at different points and progresses at different rates toward our own individual goal, a target destination which does not remain static, but will change as we analyze what we did wrong, identify skills that need work, and practice those skills. I need to remember to keep a positive focus, set realistic goals for each run, enjoy even the smallest successes, and focus on how far we have come from when we started the journey.
Matilda and I have been taking agility classes for a little more than a year and a half. When we began I just thought it would be something fun for us to do together. At an AKC dog show I watched the agility trials that were being held in conjunction with the dog show and ran into a woman there I knew. She suggested my teacher, Barbara Mah, as someone good to study with. It was another six months before I was able to start a class. In class we did a lot of flat work and slowly learned the obstacles. Now, of course, we work on sequences and handling. I’m still not competing although we have done four or five fun, show and go trials which have indeed been lots of fun, and we didn’t do too badly. I would like for us to compete. I think it would be fun. I would say the biggest obstacle for me at this point is my lack of confidence in myself as a handler. If I felt surer of myself, I think Matilda and I would be fine.
My greatest obstacle has always been time. I have always owned multiple dogs, each needs individual training time to focus on that dog’s needs and each needs family time and socialization and individual time with daddy and obedience lessons and pet therapy visitation time, and on and on. At the end of each day I always feel that I should have done one more thing with one of them. But, dishes need to get washed and I need a shower so at some point I have to stop. In a couple years I may retire, then I hope to start training at least one of my guys tracking. Till then, I’ll do what I can do.
Deirdre Crofton says:
Agility obstacles we over came. The biggest obstacle we faced was lack of training. Wow has handling become a lot more sophisticated since we started. Back in the dark ages no one talked about Front crosses and rear crosses, lead outs targets, etc. It was, get my dog around the course. My poor dog was a victim of my lack of knowledge. In some ways, way back when, was a lot of fun. No one really knew much, everyone was in it for the fun of it, there was not competition for wins and placement, the Q was the goal. As people became students and then instructors of the sport, it has evolved into something that barely resembles the sport 15 years ago. My first agility dog never really overcame my lack of knowledge at the time, but we sure did have a blast together anyways.
When Katy and I started agility 2 years ago, she was 5 and I was 63. Our first obstacle was our first instructor. He pushed us too far, too fast and after 4 months he was running us through full courses. We were extremely sloppy to say the least. So we quit. Katy rested for 4 months and I studied Jane Simmoms Moak’s DVD’s and books until I had them memorized. Then we built many obstacles for our own back yard and started over with our training in the Spring. One obstacle at a time, then short sequences. It was 6 months before I actually ran Katy on a full course. And oh what a difference!!! In doing this we overcame our underlying obstacle…lack of speed. Katy makes up for that with her innate intelligence and perfection, she only makes a booboo if I am late with my command. My lack of speed is made up for by working at a distance and watching my body cues. Around our dog club, Katy is now known as “The Perfect Dog”. She is mixed breed and starting April 2010 she will be competing in AKC Agility and Rally.
Harriet Markell says:
I have a wonderfully athletic 4 yo Miniature Poodle with whom I’ve been taking agility classes for 2.5 years. And we’ve only trialed once. A disaster. He spent a lot of time in daycare and boarding until last Fall, when I realized that that might be the root of his insane behavior problems in the ring: he leaps from the start line and runs all over the ring, visiting judges, pole setters, barking at the ring gates, and picking up cones, tossing them in the air, catching them on his nose and running around like that. Very cute – but— so I think he learned in daycare that an open space with other dogs around is for playing. He learned the obstacles very quickly of course, but could only do 3-5 in a row before he ran off – and he wasn’t very responsive to a recall. So I took him back to square 1: Used Ruff Love, Control Unleashed, an obedience trainer, and a leadership coach to rearrange his brain. No more daycare, when boarded he has limited playtime. Lo and behold, in 9 months he has turned around beautifully and now stays with me on course almost 100% of the time. When he does get distracted he doesn’t go far and comes right back. Everyone is commenting that he’s a new dog, and that we really look like a team now. And we’re about to enter our next real trial in a few weeks. I’ll be nervous I’m sure, but much more confident that I will have a dog running with me. And his other behavior has also improved – wasn’t so bad initially, but now is sooo much more self-controlled and able to ignore distractions almost anywhere. I love this dog – he’s my first, and what a ride it’s been!