The Chicken and the Egg Debate in Dog Agility

Posted on 11/21/14 6 Comments

You know that ageless debate…which came first the chicken to lay the egg or the egg that grew to be a chicken?

Well I see a similar one in dog agility. Yesterday, I released the first video in my latest free online training  series “Transforming Your Agility Handling.”Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 10.33.56 PM

In the first video I show you a bunch of video clips of me handling my dogs back in the 1990s. It was watching that video that made me think of the chicken and the egg comparison.

Back in the ’90s when none of us were very good at handling, I ran more defensive…not really running full out. It was more of a shuffle-stop-walk-lunge-stop-jog movement…if you know what I mean.  As a handler I was more reacting to where my dog was headed more than actually guiding her. Today, now that my handling is clear, my agility dogs run with more focus, confidence and speed…and so do I!

So during that handling transformation of mine, did I become a faster handler because my dog’s started driving to the correct obstacle more often? Or did my dogs start heading to the correct obstacle more often when I became a faster more confident handler?

Really I think both are true. Successful experiences are the foundation from which confidence grows….both in dogs and in their handlers as well!

So if our dogs are continually called away from obstacles they are heading towards…because the information we gave them to head that way was flawed in the first place, our dogs will slow down. They will lose confidence in their understanding of what we want.

If the dogs slow down enough, so they are moving at no more than a walk, we as handlers gain the confidence that we WILL be able to predict where they are heading so WE speed up.

But that isn’t the best way to gain confidence as a handler…at the expense of our dog’s confidence.

For many dogs, like my early dogs, they didn’t noticeably slow down when things became less clear. They did things like; bark, bite me, spin in front of jumps, lunge at off course obstacles (sometimes taking them), have wider turns, knock bars or second guess where I was sending them and pull of at the last second.

Dogs show their lack of confidence in us in their own unique ways. Maybe your own dog does it in a way you haven’t even noticed yet. Think about it for a moment.

When your handling becomes clearer, confidence grows together… as a team.

I would like to help that happen.

And thats why I do things like set aside time through the year to put out video tutorial series like the one I released yesterday. Click this link now  and watch “Increase Confidence…Become Your Agility Dog’s GPS

While you watch, take note of how both my dogs and my confidence in the agility ring has grown over the years.

This video is raw…I really open, sharing some personal details that very few people know. I decided in order to help you transform your agility handling it is important for you to understand …I once sat where you are sitting.

Confidence comes from the repetition of successful experiences.

Today I share with you a critical key element in growing my current agility dog’s confidence. This is what allows them to run as fast as they can all the way around a course. I not only share this critical key on today’s video I am giving away a free ebook for you to help get started building your own dog’s confidence now!

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Be sure to watch my video series while it is available… as it will only be around until the end of the month.

Today I am grateful for all of my early dogs, the ones who suffered the loss of their own confidence as a part of my transformational journey in agility.



  1. Connie dee Gunderson says:
    Thursday, January 21, 2016 at 12:06pm

    Thank you for sharing — I am very new to agility but not to having a dog in my life. Before they were always the loving pet my current dog is but now I am in a place in my life to slow down and think about what I am doing and how I am doing it. Thank you for the guidance.


  2. Andie&Zap says:
    Friday, November 28, 2014 at 1:51am

    You are wonderful Susan! You put to words the thoughts that are so jumbled in my mind! I’m loving the videos and enjoy your thought process! Again, another inspiration and more goals for my boy and I to reach. I can’t wait to get back home and get back to work on furthering our agility skills! Lots to do! Thank you for posting these videos; much appreciated!


  3. dere says:
    Sunday, November 23, 2014 at 5:03am

    nice thoughts on dog agility but i prefer to do it my way though


  4. Gordon Aitchison says:
    Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 6:25pm

    Susan. I think that all dogs are different and as their handlers experience grows not only in agility but in training overall they can influence how their dogs develop. My first ever dog, Hamish, was a wild, farm reared Border Collie and he made me want to learn how to train dogs. We got to just shy of the top agility grades. I then had a Collie, Moss, who would turn himself inside out for me and we went to champ level but really to old to compete with other dogs. My next dog was so nervous of other dogs, people, strange situation, it has taken me a lot of work and years to bring her on to UK Grade 5. At 53 I’m now 14 years older than when I started Agility and although my handling is better and more in tune with how I can read my dogs I’m definitely not as quick as I used to be. It won’t stop me enjoying my agility or lessen my competitiveness but I believe that each and every handler should find their own level to enjoy the sport and love the bond that it gives them with their dogs.


  5. Paola says:
    Friday, November 21, 2014 at 2:34pm

    Excellent video Susan, thanks! I use my dogs name to call her attention most of the time, as a come to hand with my boy, and to avoid off course with both dogs. I also use it to get more speed from my boy, who runs like mad after me if he hears his name, for instance, after a tunnel.

    Again, thaks for sharing your knowledge and experience 🙂


  6. Bev says:
    Friday, November 21, 2014 at 12:24pm

    I definitely think it all belongs to the handler if there is an unconfident dog I am late getting my young dog started, and I cannot move like I could a year ago. She is much faster then my other dog, and I for sure am having handling clarity to deal with, have to be on full alert, and fresh to work with her. If course is set in such a way I can take a long lead out, I do somewhat better


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