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Be Your BEST in Agility: 10 Tips to Get You THERE!

Posted on 09/14/16 14 Comments

Swagger and I are preparing for our upcoming trip to FCI World  Championships in Zaragoza, Spain representing Subaru Agility Team Canada.


In my preparations this week, I gave my “agility trial checklist” a once over to see if there were any needed “tweaks”.

As I was looking at my list I thought “this would be cool information for me to share with everyone”. So… what grew out of my own preparation is something I would like to share with you all. Follow along for the next few weeks as we travel to compete and I share tips for you to do your own personal best in agility.  Enjoy!

Agility Trial Success Tip #1: Set Goals!

It doesn’t matter if you are heading into a world championship or your first agility trial ever, you will always come home a success if you set out with clear goals. Break the weekend down into many events that you can goal set for. A “weekend” is made up of a set of runs and each run made from a set of skills you can evaluate to help you succeed in the future.


“People with goals succeed because they know where they are going…It’s as simple as that.”
~ Earl Nightingale

Today, I am grateful to Subaru Canada for their generous support of Team Canada as we head off to Spain for our biggest competition of the year.

Visit all the tips: Tip 1Tip 2Tip 3Tip 4Tip 5Tip 6Tip 7Tip 8, Tip 9, Tip 10


  1. Shirley McRitchie says:
    Thursday, March 23, 2017 at 4:47pm

    Always trying my best to keep my dog happy. Would love to get your tips.


  2. Lynda says:
    Thursday, March 23, 2017 at 9:30am

    If you are a Facebook user join and follow along with our group. Lots of great information and a positive community of like minded agility trainers.

    Susan Garrett’s Free Dog Agility Workshops



    • Heather says:
      Thursday, March 23, 2017 at 11:00am

      When ever I’m feeling down or feel like I’m not doing enough “already” I hear from Susan and the 360 group. It perks me back up


  3. margaret says:
    Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 3:27pm

    My very first competition, many many years ago. I was so nervous that I forgot to ‘exercise’ my dog beforehand, so I was eliminated by an elimination. The more I tell this story, the more people relax – and think about the comforts of their dog!


  4. Phyllis says:
    Wednesday, September 21, 2016 at 12:51pm

    When I decided to trial my Brussels Griffon who was dealing with low self -confidence and dog fear issues, a friend told me to look at every trial as a lesson. And work every lesson as a trial. The dog does not know they didn’t shine like the sun out there.

    I set 3 goals for her first trial:

    1. Francine was to have FUN!
    2. I did not want Francine to leave the course and head for the parking lot (before we’d finished!)
    3. We must stick the see-saw.

    Francine not only accomplished our goals, she flew faultlessly through all her Novice legs, and on into her Open Title.

    I still choose three things each trial that we should accomplish, and we are still having the time of our lives out there!


  5. Sue says:
    Tuesday, September 20, 2016 at 10:29am

    Thanks for the reminder; I often set “outcomes” as goals. I need to remember that knocking a bar is an outcome, not a goal! (Sometimes that is really difficult to do!)


  6. P.J. says:
    Tuesday, September 20, 2016 at 8:38am

    One of the joys of running agility is seeing my dogs fly when I am so far behind them due to bad knees.
    Distance work is a great way to look at goals. Start close and gradually add to the distance by improving our communication, timing and handling. Create separate goals for each category.
    In my heart, I am soaring right along with my great girls, an Irish setter and a flat-coated retriever.
    And now my students and friends run them sometimes too. It makes me extra happy to see them go full out with more able-bodied handlers too, and to know they are helping the handlers learn more about timing and skills as well, in their cheerful way.


  7. Wayne says:
    Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 5:51pm

    We do our warm ups, stay and go 3 or 4 times then

    I am at the starting line with my dog, I take off the lead , sit and wait, as soon as I say go she starts to sniffs around the ground looking for treats or eating the grass. How do I get her to keep her attention on the course and me.
    In training after a few times she gets it but its that unknown first attempt at the trial start that gets I cant control.


  8. Elaine S says:
    Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 9:24am

    Before my first trial I should have said to myself: “Relax. You’ll probably make mistakes, but so what. The only money in this is the entrance fee. So have fun and make sure your dog is having fun. And LAUGH!”


    • Carol Foster says:
      Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 12:15pm

      Yes, Elaine S!! I agree totally! One of my trainers once told me, when I was in a total tither, “No babies will die as a result of your not doing this “right”!”, i.e. don’t sweat it too much. Prepare as much as you can ahead of time, keep your routine, and learn from what you didn’t do right. Your dog will sometimes do something that will make you shake your head, either in wonder or in chagrin. That’s why we run dogs, not robots, lol!
      Have fun!!


  9. Chris Edmark says:
    Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 11:09pm

    One thing I wish I had learned early on and have on my trial reminder sheet. Keep it between you and your dog. Have fun ignore how others do and what they say..


    • Athleen Zimmermann says:
      Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 9:50am

      This is a great list — validates a lot of what I already do and adds a lot more really good ideas. Thanks so much for sharing these — I’m looking forward to the rest of the list!


  10. Erika says:
    Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 10:28pm

    I would like a link to the rest of tips please .


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