Attitude: It Can Be An Injection Of Pure Adrenaline or a Highly Contagious Virus

Posted on 06/06/12 49 Comments

This blog is a little slow to be published. When I saw the topic that we were all writing on for dog agility blog action day, I was keen to contribute but then the attitude of my students prevented me from taking action as I had intended. Yes I am blaming them . . . is that a bad attitude?

You see I am currently teaching an on-line course helping others to train their contact performances for agility. My students are world class, I mean the cream of the crop. Don’t get me wrong, there are few of them are “acing” the material at this point (week 4). I didn’t think many would this early on. There is a ton of games to learn in this course (it goes w-a-y beyond just training contacts) so, as you may imagine, with people’s life commitments such as work, family etc, many of the students are struggling to keep up (we are constantly reminding  them to set their own pace).

You might think this would lead to an atmosphere of frustration, hopelessness or anger. But nothing could be further from the truth. It is almost as if they are enjoying their inability to keep up with pace of the course. That it is allowing them to enjoy the games with their dogs on a level different from what they expected when they signed up for the course. These students are supporting each other, some have created a side groups called “turtles” and  have vowed to happily take their time working through the games. Turtles enjoying the games on their journey . . . I think I can see the t-shirts now.

This group are an absolute joy to teach, what makes them that way is their attitude towards learning. It energizes other students and lets them be “okay” with where they are and what they have accomplished “so far.”  It plants the seeds for the possibility of future brilliance (which I am confident that this group will enjoy) and . . . it is what makes it difficult for me to pull myself away from their questions and sharing . . . and makes my blog sadly neglected.

I have seen this work in real life as well. It takes only one or two students in a workshop who can find joy in trying anything with their dogs to set the spirit of the entire group. It is amazing to see set in action and it makes me love my job even more than I already do!

Sadly, I am sure you have seen this work in reverse. People with an unhappy attitude towards learning, their dog, their instructor, their situation that have the ability to steal the joy from others. They are joy vampires. This is particularly true if the sour person is a role model to anyone around them.

But it doesn’t have to be that way for any of us. It is an age old but very true adage, we can’t control what others do around us, but we can control how we respond to their actions or comments. We dictate our own attitudes.

Swagger; I am sure his name must be Gaelic for "great attitude towards life."

I couldn’t write a blog on “attitude” without a quote from the King of good attitudes, the late John Wooden who used to say;

“Make everyday your masterpiece.”

Our attitude sets the pace for each minute we live our life, for how we begin and end each day. For how we set and accomplish goals. Attitude can be a decision of our own or it can be an unconscious reflex to the energy of those we choose to spend time around. Joy or anger, the choice is ours to make . . . but sometimes it means stepping back and making a conscious change in the direction of our choosing.

Look for your joy, I promise you, it will be found.

Today I am grateful for the amazing attitude of my SYCS students. They bring joy to the process of education!


  1. Corry says:
    Monday, October 22, 2012 at 5:50pm

    I just finished a 2-day seminar this weekend with my 3 1/2 year old Sheltie and I saw this exact thing play out before my eyes. This was our first ever official agility class together and I went in with an open mind and clean slate. I had another dog who was in agility, but died 2 years ago, so I have some experience. But this time around I was going to be a ‘new’ student with a new dog. We had an absolute blast. I had no expectations going in, except learning what I could and finding out how much I needed to work on, and of course loads of fun. My dog is such a kook, I was laughing the whole weekend, but there was one student who kept complaining about something or other. She is your typical drama queen, who was moody, pouty and kind of mouthy to the instructor. Normally I am the type who would complain and mutter about how aweful she was being and how it ticked me off she was such a Negative Nelly. You know how that breeds which can possibly ruin an entire weekend. Well, I was so proud of myself for just ignoring her and focusing on having fun with my dog. The weekend was awesome and I look forward to putting my training lessons into action and I can’t wait for the next seminar. I was not going to let her ruin our first agility experience together, and I believe I succeeded. I am thankful to all of you who read and write within Susan’s blog to help us keep the Joy. It definitely worked for me. (:


  2. Susan says:
    Friday, July 27, 2012 at 8:11am

    Be the martini. I like that. I can do that.


  3. sharon empson says:
    Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 11:53pm

    I would like to learn how to teach the dog walk, anyone give me some info??
    Thanks. sharon


  4. sharon empson says:
    Monday, July 16, 2012 at 11:43am

    yes I miss her blogs too. Maybe she is on vacation. I hope things are ok with her. Sharon


  5. Corry says:
    Monday, July 16, 2012 at 10:04am

    Hi ALl, Any ideas why Susan isn’t blogging anymore? I looked forward to her words of encouragement, wisdom and motivation. I miss her. ):


  6. Kim says:
    Friday, July 6, 2012 at 3:50am

    Hi Susan,

    Me and Abby ran our first match ever last saturday. I knew we were not going to make squat since Abby doesn’t have a full understanding of the weave yet, but I had my reasons. The most important one being the location of the match.
    It was a national event, so our nations top handlers were there (you might have heard of Roy Fonteijn) but since it was at our own club it had a very homely feel to it. All my friends, training buddies and trainers were there to support eachother. It was an amazing weekend! Being able to run with ‘the big dogs'(in a different ring of course) was a great experience.
    We ran two disq’s at the regular course and the jumping as she backed out of the weave. But the rest of the course went brilliant. She did everything right and I am so proud of her! We even made a 22nd place (out of the 51 contestants) in the gambling.
    All in all, we had some great fun that day. We learned a lot and, most impoartantly, I learned that I can trust my dog on a big event!

    The attitude is what changed the day for me. I was there to have a great time and gain the experience of running a match.



  7. Harley Harrington says:
    Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 6:00am

    It reminds me that your mind set can have a profound effect on your dog training. If you think you can or if you think you can’t you are right.


    • sharon empson says:
      Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 11:58pm

      Harley so true! Took Bindi to training today and a large dog lunged at her and almost got her. From that point on she was off. Just was too nervous to work. It was so unlike her. I really didn’t know what to do. Just tried to press on. She could tell I was unnerved by her reaction to not respond well to commands, she is usually very, very quick to respond. So, I had to change my attitude. I learned something today. I need to let her know that no matter what, I am for her. I pray I will never be unnerved again to the degree that she detects it.


  8. Kim Rinehardt says:
    Monday, July 2, 2012 at 12:47pm

    Great post! And happily, just what I needed to read this morning. Thank you.


  9. Jan Schultz says:
    Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 8:42pm

    Just now getting a chance to read this blog: Here’s to Turtle Power!


  10. Gabi says:
    Saturday, June 30, 2012 at 3:20am


    I enjoyed this blog so much, being one of the turtles! It made me smile and just will help me to happily keep going at the pace that is just right for my dog and myself!
    Thank you Susan for teaching us so much, even to be happy with our own pace of learning!
    We will get there and will enjoy the view at the top of the mountain even more!


  11. kay acres says:
    Sunday, June 24, 2012 at 12:54pm

    On attitude – I competed in a trial on Friday in rain and thunder, no Q’s but good dog/handler information. Both popped the 10th weave in Jumpers! ‘yes’ I did write in my journal. Both had speed and although I was sick had good runs. I scratched Sat. and Sun. My decision was based on my friend’s question, “Are we having fun?” I stayed in bed Saturday.


  12. Heidi & Poppie says:
    Sunday, June 24, 2012 at 9:21am

    he he – just read this.

    Cheers to all the fellow turtles!!



  13. Barb says:
    Friday, June 22, 2012 at 4:35pm

    Wow, I didn’t realize what I started with my original comment to Valentina!
    So glad it has become a positive force for people taking their time and enjoying the journey. I knew when I started this course it would be full of so many great ideas and activities and I knew I would embrace each challenge but slowly. When I started Recallers, very few people, myself included took me very seriously as a trainer. I always believed in positive training, but the on-line courses, have given me so many more tools and ideas to make my training more effective. Think it was Maggie who said “We shell overcome”! We will get there with Susan’s guidance all along the way. And you too Lynda!


  14. Gryphon says:
    Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 5:11pm

    Joy Vampires!! Don’t we all know these types of people. At least we can leave their presence at the end of the day. Their poor pets don’t get the same privilege.


  15. Kristen says:
    Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 3:31pm

    I’m training my young puppy in the contacts course. Like any puppy, she brings many gifts with her temperament; including a few I’d like to return! I love her passion and enthusiasm, and I know that as I work with her in motivating ways, her independence will blossom into a strong relationship with me; one that she chooses.

    My puppy has a great future ahead of her, and I can make the most of it by avoiding C.R.A.P. If I build a shoddy foundation with her, I’m only going to get shoddy performance in the future. If I take my time and allow her to master skills and behavior, progressing only when I know she’s ready for the next step, I’m going to have a great dog. If I skip steps or simply “phone it in” I am going to get the performance I trained. I didn’t commit to the course only to train for a sub-standard result.

    Besides being independent this puppy is physically reckless, adventurous and pushy. I can use those to my advantage or to my peril. The great attitude in the contacts course is helping me so much to think of constructive solutions to my daily challenges. It’s a little enclave where I’m never pressured to force a power struggle onto my puppy. A battle I’d win, but that would be costly in terms of relationship erosion.

    When I was debating whether to enroll I posted my question to Facebook. Several people from puppy peaks advised that if I did sign up to become active in the chat room. They commented that it would help me to make the most out of the course. And they were spot on! Three cheers to my fellow Say Yes to Contacts Success participants! Sometimes I post, and sometimes I lurk. But you are inspirational to me, helping me to become a better trainer and making for a richer journey with my baby girl.


  16. kay acres says:
    Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 10:55pm

    Judy, I started agility thinking my dog (an Irish Terrier) was choosing to go over the wrong jump and ended up realizing I had signaled that jump and not the one I wanted! Hilarious. And she still wants to go home with me.


  17. Judy Caughlin says:
    Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 4:48pm

    I started reading this, thinking it was addressing our dog’s attitude, disgruntled due to a personal physical issue and ended with a whole new outlook on the situation! You never cease to amaze me! THANKS!


  18. Kat says:
    Monday, June 18, 2012 at 11:25am

    I love this blog and it is so true! I was struggling a year ago with my very intense little 2 year old Border Collie Zen. I was so frustrated and lost the joy in training. I pulled out of agility class to work with her on basics and we signed up to puppy peaks and started crate games.

    What a huge massive difference. I stopped caring about what other people thought about her and focussed on building our relationship living the life in “do-land”. She has gone from a “Don’t wanna, don’t hafta” non-tugging dog to a fun loving little girl that I am having a ridiculous amount of fun with. Her joy and passion for life is infectious. She has such exuberance and I love that she wants to be with me now and goes nuts when she sees her tuggy toy, yet she won’t leave her crate when the door is open until she hears the magic release word.

    We are do-landers for life!!!


  19. kay acres says:
    Monday, June 18, 2012 at 12:50am

    Sharon, Great idea on the cards for crate games. I’ve been working on the “we’re in we’re out” and they like that. I need to review the DVD and make up some cards.


  20. kay acres says:
    Monday, June 18, 2012 at 12:44am

    I agree attitude is everything. My dogs enjoyed our short training sessions today. I was organized (a big help) and played first (relationship building) then practiced and built in the balance break and back to practice and played again. Bonus- IYC is built in! What fun their arousal was up – and so was mine. And they understood far more quickly than I expected. I am using a journal to record my dogs’ responses and my own. My sweet dogs are in their crates beside me as I write.


  21. sharon empson says:
    Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 3:12pm

    My desire for my dogs is joy. I want them to have a great life and life to the fullest of their potential. I can make a difference in their attitude when I am positive. I like your comments Susan, we have a choice. Sometimes with kids or dogs, when they do not do as they should, we get frustrated because we want to look a certain way to those looking on. Skilled, a good parent, a good dog trainer. That is when I notice my attitude can began to turn sour. Now, I pray and ask the Lord to help me have the joy He has intended me to have. He has blessed me with three crazy, goofy, fun loving dogs. I need to enjoy them…no matter what. I also love the comment that our pups are the only things we really take home with us. It’s our relationship with them that is the top priority. Just love it! Thanks, for the reminder. Sharon


  22. sharon empson says:
    Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 2:59pm

    I love the crate games and have typed up the games and print them out on card stock. I then cut them and plan to put them into a file box so that I can grab one and we can play it. My dogs love games. They love playing and will come to me and ask for time to play the games.

    Also, I need help I have subscribed to the newsletter but have not received the being a good student helps. I tried to resubscribe but couldn’t. Could someone direct me to where I can make contact with someone regarding on being a good student?
    Thanks sharon
    With Bindi, Cody and Terra


  23. Pensieve says:
    Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 11:39am

    This post of Susan’s was a real lift. At first, as I was reading, I thought Susan was going to complain about us being content to be “turtles.” Of course, that was not the case, and I’m glad she is not the sort of person who is valuing us in terms of how fast and well we get our dogs to do brilliant contacts.

    So today, I am grateful for this reminder that it okay at times to be a turtle.


  24. jack says:
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 1:17pm

    Great stuff, thanks for sharing.


  25. Kate says:
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 11:17am

    I believe it is you who brings joy to the process of education, and it is so infectious that my husband, who hears both my brags and my challenges but also sees amazing changes in our dog, has been telling folks at his dog class about my experiences. Just a few weeks ago he recommended Crate Games to someone, and last night she was beaming – her dog held his sit with roast beef on the floor. She said she had no idea that was even possible 😉

    When people ask me for recommendations on dog training, I without hesitation tell them Ruff Love and Crate Games, emphasizing read/watch them twice before starting and revisit often. It’s only through taking your courses that I realized how much there really is in those resources. And how much fun.


    • kay acres says:
      Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 10:49pm

      I have Ruff Love and Crate Games and will take your advice and revisit both. The dogs and I have have fun with crate games, but have not tried the full Ruff Love process as I work all day, and my husband doesn’t like the dogs left in their crates for any length of time.


  26. kay acres says:
    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 1:03am

    Help! The elusive “glue” to create the big ‘D’ Desire is my top priority and it is not proving easy to find. The JOY and DESIRE in practice rarely extends to competition. Is this ‘glue’ harder to find for some dogs/breeds? Or, for some people? I have aliens to the agility world – a 22″ Standard Poodle and an Irish Terrier. And, I need some glue!


  27. Sophie says:
    Monday, June 11, 2012 at 10:02am

    All I have to say, Susan, is that IF YOU EVER decide to make a Turtle t-shirt, I’m SO wanting one! I am in your online course, and I am certainly a Turtle although my hectiv schedules make it nearly impossible to participate more in the community. HOWEVER, I am not only astounded by how much in depth this whole course gets into. It’s not just contacts, it’s so much more.. like a “Behind the Scenes” if you may. And I am not new in agility or dog training, I’ve traveled, won medals, but I am also always looking for ways to improve in this ever-changing sport. And this webinar? It offered me so much and we’re not even halfway there (and I’m still going through week 2!). I learned a lot about attitude, and love the way I could modify and adjust my training to the SY method and see my dog happier and waaay more motivated. Yesterday’s competition she hit the best times in her category twice, yay! =D


  28. Maggie says:
    Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 3:26pm

    So glad that you are enjoying taking the SY CS course Susan, we are getting so much from it, good to know its a bit of a two way street x


  29. Meg says:
    Saturday, June 9, 2012 at 2:57pm

    Nice boost to my starting to take inventory with myself and my dog training of late. While I am not in the new group…..I am chugging along trying to establish who ‘we’ are and where ‘we’ need to go. I have begun an intense review of all my SG YES! learning….PP, RUFF LOVE, You Tube, newsletters and the list goes on…and I need to figure out what’s next for us. Having this joy and enjoying my Terv for what he is and (he can be a real handful!!!) taking responsibility for what he has become (A big bite –my fault :/ ) AND what I would like us to become…I am gearing up to take a new plunge. Hearing the enthusiasm and the energy here will make my inventory/soul searching an easier task!! Summer is just beginning and so are we.Thanks once again….xx Meg


  30. Taj MuttHall (Ellen) says:
    Friday, June 8, 2012 at 10:41pm

    I don’t teach agility, but I do sometimes teach workshops in composting, and I see the same thing: A couple of students who are fascinated and engaged and ask questions can bring the whole group along with them, and one guy who got dragged against his will and has nothing good to say can put a damper on everything. The former make me come away reinvigorated about home composting. All so true!


  31. Rebecca says:
    Friday, June 8, 2012 at 3:53pm

    The contacts course and the content IS the BEST say yes gift to trainers and handlers. I have done recallers and it was fun, puppy peaks nice too but this one is phenominal. the information is top notch and highly motivating as its all in one place. Every person signed up will have improvements in their dog. Its just getting started and I have improved things not only in agility but other disciplines as well. Its kind of a flooding in a way in the beginning but a good kind, like playing in a chocolate fountain LOL. Flooding of info but basic steps that everyone can benefit from. This is the best dog training investment that I have made in 12 years of professional dog training. THANK YOU.


  32. Alex says:
    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 5:57pm

    What a great topic! I have recently been struggling in some group classes. I was feeling frustrated and stressed about our progress even though our performance in that class was in line with where we wanted to be. I’m realizing now that my frustrations are actually generated from other members in the class and I’m feeding of their negativity.

    Now’s the time to start putting the blinders on to their attitude and keep my focus on learning and my joy in class.

    Thank you!


  33. Beau's Mom says:
    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 4:41pm

    Choose to be happy. Sure beats the alternative!!


  34. Maggie says:
    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 12:28pm

    Attitude 🙂 Thanks so much, Susan, for this blog. You have timed it just right. For a few days I have tried to teach my dogs to back up and ‘nothing’ is working. I got frustrated – so did my dogs – they shut down – and …. endless circle. Attitude. “Lighten up,” I told myself after reading your blog. Thank you,
    Susan. I will be in good spirits today, teaching my dogs to back up. Yeeepiiiiii 🙂


  35. Kelly says:
    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 11:28am

    “but we can control how we respond”
    I had to put this into practice just this past weekend. A person I respected and have trained with for the past ten years said something extremely hurtful to me ring side. I was angry and hurt but I decided that I would use those negative emotions to energize me into action. I deliberatley changed them from a negative to a positive and it worked. We double Q’d and got our Ex B STD title with a first place. Thanks Susan you are so very right! It’s all about choice!


  36. Deb says:
    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 9:25am

    Joy vampires and enetgy suckers are all related to ticks–not only do they takeout of the host/relationship, they leave behind “disease”–ill feeling, fear, anger, frustration . . .


    • Susan says:
      Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 9:37am

      @Deb, great analogy!


  37. Dr. Laurie Coger says:
    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 8:15am

    Joy vampires – that is brilliant! They must be cousins of the energy suckers…


  38. rugrat1 says:
    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 8:14am

    Turtle Pride! I will say I am not “struggling to keep up”. I am just riding the wave we are on and all waves make it to shore eventually!


    • Susan says:
      Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 8:25am

      Aaaah brilliant, riding the wave, love it!


  39. Denise CaDeLac Mcleod says:
    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 8:10am

    It sounds like a bunch of folk who have come to understand and accept themselves and their dogs very well. Brilliant.

    One of my most highly respected instructors…. once said to me…. “remember that in any training or competition situation it is important to remember that at the end of the day all you are going to actually take home is your dog.” No ones advice, experience, encouragement, training, views, or actions are more important than the relationship that I have with my dog. A relatcionship of love and mutual respect.

    Interesting article Susan thank you. Denise


  40. Stephanie says:
    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 6:36am

    This blog has come at a very good time for me. I am watching how well Kenzie is doing and how much she is learning, but when things aren’t going quite right I will begin to stress, and then Kenzie feels it, which destroys so much of the progress we are making. I had just written to my instructor that things will be different next time, as I am realizing that my “attitude” is really affecting my very willing partner.

    I like the fact that it is a “decision”.


  41. Jean says:
    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 2:14am

    There is something about the Contacts Course! I’m not sure exactly how to put my finger on it except what you said. Instead of being “frantic” because “I’m behind,” I’m just working through the details. Like so many, I had to finish up some things before I could really start. I’ve barely just begun and love it! It’s like this is just making things clear to me, and I know I’ll be able to make things clear for my dogs!


  42. Debra Jones says:
    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 2:02am

    Susan, I release more endorphins everyday from laughing with my dog . You have changed my way of training and I’m forever grateful! You’ve always told us “Your dog is a reflection of your training” Well, we students are a reflection of your training, Susan – you’re one awesome instructor and dog trainer…


  43. Ellen says:
    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 12:22am

    Wow, blog about us, students of Say Yes! Indeed it has been an amazing journey for us. We learned to see holes in our training but not get angry or frustrated, take a feedback offered by our dogs in Recallers, we created Shaping Dens in our minds during Shaping course and now having a blast with Contact course.


  44. Kathy with Liz/breeze/cricket says:
    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 12:19am

    Great post as always and a great reminder to take responsability for our experience.


  45. Mariah Hinds says:
    Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 11:52pm

    Love it!


Post a Comment

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

slide one
slide two