So I thought I’d better write a little update as so much has happened in the past week!
We are back from a fantastic training camp down in Devon hosted by the company I work alongside, Absolute Dogs. It was a brilliant week, packed full of training and learning, not only for our own dogs but from a teaching point too. We have come away full of inspiration and so exited! We have lots of plans for the future so watch this space for updates on that!
Before we went to camp we thought we would visit a local agility show to enable Flash to get a feel for what it’s like at competition and for Milo to gain a bit more confidence in that environment.
It was Flash’s 1st show, a UK Agility one held near to us. He was a star! I only entered him in 3 classes to get a bit of experience and on the 1st run he nailed his agility with a clear round and the fastest time, so he is now in beginners! To move up groups from nursery to beginners agility you only need a clear round, there are no 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc.
I am so pleased with how he is progressing, he’s such a fun dog to run and I’m really looking forward to watching him progress, he’s still got so much more to give and it’s exciting!
Flash is a dog that’s been brought up on games and game based learning since the day he came home with us at 8 weeks.
I 100% believe that it’s due to this that has made him the dog he is today! He’s a joy to own and work with.
Not to be outdone with Flash’s success, Milo decided to pull out all the stops at his first Kennel Club show this weekend.
For anyone who knows us, Milo hasn’t been the easiest dog to train!
I’ve always known he’s a cracking little agility dog who is capable of a lot, but due to a scare and other factors his journey to the compitition ring hasn’t been plain sailing!
Last October he gave me the sign he was capable of doing more at agility by getting his clear round at nursery UK Agility and moving up to beginners, he had the fastest time too!
But I knew deep down he wasn’t confident in the show environment so I pulled him from competition for 9 months!! 😱
9 months is a long time but there was no point putting him in a environment he wasn’t comfortable with, he wouldn’t be happy and he certainly wouldn’t be focused enough to work!
Milo loves agility and in training his drive, commitment, speed and consistency were perfect and the frustrating thing for me is that I knew he could do well. So deciding to pull him from compitition when everyone around me was telling me to go wasn’t easy!!!
But I knew my dog! So in the 9 months off we have done LOTS of games, lots of training and slowly transitioning those games into new environments and shows. Getting him comfortable and happy at shows on the sidelines was my first goal – the agility didn’t matter I knew he could do that, but without that confidence in that environment the agility wasn’t worth running.
If a dog isn’t happy in an environment he will not be able to focus, he will not be comfortable with his surroundings so will lose the ability to listen to commands and work with you as a team, and that’s what agility is all about! Your a team working together to get round the course – there is no rope attached between you, you need to trust the dog is going to do the equipment and they need to trust that you are going to handle them safely round it.
How damaging would that be for our relationship if I kept putting Milo in a situation he wasn’t comfortable in!! He needs as much trust in me as I do him and that’s one of the things I love about agility, it’s the bond that is created between you and your dog – your a team, both of you need eachother for the sport to take place.
In our Agility training classes we often get students wondering why we spend time concentrating on what I call the boring stuff, where is the fun in focus work when your desperately wanting to have a go on the equipment!? But if you get the foundations right from day one you will be surprised at how quick you progress with agility as a sport.
We went to the KC Show with one goal for Milo and that was to complete the weaves in a competition environment, I only entered him in 2 classes for this reason. His agility run had the weaves straight out of a tunnel which I knew wouldn’t be easy as he has speed coming out of a tunnel and it is the entrance to the weaves he sometimes struggles with! BUT not only did he nail his weaves he went on to get 6 out of 6 contacts (kc judge the up contacts as well as down) and ran a clear round in the fastest time of all the grades! 🌟 So he wins out of grade 1 on his 1st attempt! 🎊🎊🎊🎊🎊🎊🎊🎊🎊🎊🎊🎊🎊🎊
His jumping round he also nailed his weaves, just picking up 5 faults for a wide turn between two jumps but he still won that one too! 🍾🐕
So when you train your own dogs just remember Milo – please don’t push them to do something you want them to do but they are not ready for. They will try to do it for you as dogs are programmed to please their owners but they won’t thank you for it in the long run. Agility isn’t something that should be rushed, I was pushed too soon to go to competition and I’ve spend years building Milo’s confidence back to where we are now.
Train the dog in front of you and don’t compare him to anyone else! Dogs are like us in that they are individuals – it’s your journey as a team and I know that my journey with Flash is very different to my journey with Milo.
Games work – if you can train your dog and have fun at the same time that’s a bonus right?! It’s the same games that we teach you that I have used to bring back Milo’s confidence. It’s these games that have given me the dog I have with Flash.
Turn the struggles your having into strengths using games and you will love the team you and your Dog become! 💕🐕
Happy Training 🐾
Play….. Train…..Enjoy….. Succeed!