Dog Agility: Why Doing It “Just For Fun” May Be The Wrong Way

feature_snow_2011Today I wanted to make to time to join in the Dog Agility Blogger Action Day because the topic is FUN. How can I not take time out for THAT?

As a professional in the sport of dog agility I recognize I am more obsessive with training and handling then the average “weekend agility warrior.”  That is who I am…and that is how others working at the top of our sport roll as well. But there is a misconception that we are “different” then the rest of you or worst yet that we do agility to WIN while the rest of the world just does it for FUN.

There is an old saying…

“Champions in any field make a habit of doing what others find boring or uncomfortable.”

That “old saying” supports the myth that Champions don’t have fun…that we are all just driven to win. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are those rare humans that will get up every day and push themselves hard, working, working, working…striving, striving, striving. Suffering, sacrificing all in the name of winning.

There are those few people out there that will do that…I haven’t met any of them yet… but I have been told they do exist.

I have a friend who has won 5 Olympic medals, I have another who was the World Champion of karate and another who was on the pro tennis circuit. None of them fit the description of a “champion” above…and neither do I.

Here is a description we do fit though… I have twisted that old saying into something that I believe holds more truth…

Champions in any field turn what other people find boring or uncomfortable and turn that into a game that they will love to play every day.

In other words champions have figured out how put a multiplier on the fun associated with any activity.decaff-fanny

So if you are thinking you don’t want to be a champion because you “just want to have fun” I have news for you. Those of us who truly love having fun have figured out a way to have a lot more of it while reaching our goals at the same time!

We make a game out of everything. We have fun with everything we do…and that is why we succeed. But there is more to it then that because dog agility involves another living being. So it can’t matter just how much fun you are having…it has to be mutual fun. If you look at the elite levels of dog agility you can tell…every one of those dogs is having FUN (sadly not every one of those handlers maybe having fun…but that is topic for another blogpost).

Think about the agility dog who is sniffing the ground, bypassing jumps…walking around the course…maybe breaking into a trot every now and again. Does that dog look like he is having more fun then the dog that is racing at top speed around a course?

What about the handler who is clapping, cajoling or begging his dog to take the next obstacle…does that handler give off the appearance of having w-a-y more joy then those of us who are flat out running just trying to get our cues out in time for our speedy dog to take the next line of obstacles?

So if you hear someone saying “I just do agility for fun” ask them if both they andhanging_out_on_frame copy their dogs are having fun every time they train together. I am not saying Champions don’t have challenges. But I will say that challenges come only when one of the two parts of the team has stopped having fun. So if your dog is knocking bars or is turning wide…he is still having fun…although you may not be having quite as much fun as you would like. If you are trying to run a dog in agility that is worried about his environment showing signs of stress, looking for a place to escape at every turn…you may be having fun but he sure isn’t.

Let mutual fun be your guide in agility and you will not only truly have fun…who knows you may also end up being a champion!

Today I am grateful for all of those agility competitors who look for mutual fun in our sport…ensure their dogs are having as much fun as they are.

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