At the recent IFCS World Championships in England Encore really struggled with her weave entries. Believe it or not I actually had people come up to me telling me they where concerned as they just bought my 2×2 Weave Training DVD and wondered if I felt they should train that way?
Too funny. First of all dogs are dogs, they are not machines, we would like to think they are infallible but they are also humbling.
Secondly because my dogs have been 2×2 trained I take a lot of chances on weave entries that others just won’t take. I take those chances to try to win. That is all. No you will not see others miss those entries because lets face it, the other handlers just wouldn’t try them!
(I apologize for this video, I was in a bit of a hurry when I put it together . . . but it gives you a good idea of what we went through:))
Thirdly Encore was off work for 5 months with some mysterious injury or illness. When I brought her back to work the one obstacle that seemed to bring on stiffness in her back end was the weave poles. So I avoided them. I avoided weaving of any type right up until the last couple of weeks before the event– and then I only did so while practicing courses — nothing extra. So for more than 5 months I didn’t allow Encore to weave. Regardless of how a dog is trained she will lose her finer skills if they are not refreshed.
And lastly. Encore does have amazing weave skills however they are not quite as brilliant as my younger dog Feature’s skills. The difference lies in the way they two dogs where trained. Encore was trained using the 2×2 methodology I wrote about in articles (and in the back of Shaping Success). When Feature came around I had made a few tweaks of improvement. Rather than just trying to “teach” the dog to weave– I as I went along with Feature, I always included massive attempts to get the dog to fail in order to further along the understanding of what was and was not acceptable to me. I think that is the biggest difference between the two dogs. Soo if you are following along the methodology I have outlined in the 2×2 video your dog should be brilliant and even if you are using the older information the weaving should still be better than most other dogs out there!
But I won’t discredit Encore’s abilities because she still has skills very few other dogs out there possess (as evident from her 2008 IFCS Snookers Gold Medal Run.)
No, I do not feel pressure living in my fishbowl where people are always going to jump on any errors by my dogs or me as terminal ends. I do agility because I love my dogs, I love to compete and I love this sport. That is why I can walk away from near misses at world championships without losing a single night of sleep (I have slept like a baby every night since I left home) and I leave the weekend loving my dogs every bit as much as I did before the weekend began, possible more because of how hard they try for me.
That is my wish for all competitors, to walk away from disappointments without losing anything in your relationship with yourself or your dogs.
I leave you with Encore’s Jumpers run from the Biathlon where she came within a few hundreds of a second of first place. With her being more than a second behind Feature on her runs, I don’t think she is back to 100% but looking at her jump style she is 100% better than she was 5 months ago!
Today I am grateful for Johnny B, who is patiently sitting around this hotel room waiting for me as I write my blog while we are “on vacation.”