Lots to learn from today’s video. It is a glimpse into the agility journey of one of my Handling360 students. Although it is meant to be a “Handling360 success story” there are lessons to learn while you watch.  For some, it may be discovering that there is an actual breed of dog called an Entlebucher Mountain Dog :).

Earl TunnelOn a more serious note, this short clip really drives home how easy it is to shut any dog down while training. Just look at the 0:46 second mark where a lack of clarity turns a happy go lucky dog into a frustrated “must-leave-and-start-sniffing,” kind of dog. The thing is, there are many dogs in agility not running as fast as they can or even dogs that just stop, run off to sniff and unfortunately it is the DOG who gets the blame.

People judge, making statements like he is a “shut down dog” or she is a “dog with an agenda of it’s own” or “that is a breed not meant for agility”.  When you judge or label the dog you remove the opportunity to help that dog find joy in working for you. When you label the dog as having an “issue” you are unlikely to look for solutions within your own training to help that dog be more confident…regardless if the issue is lack of drive, bar knocking or lack of focus because the dog is “over the top.”

Just look at the joy “Xella the Entlebucher” shows at the 1:52 mark while executing the exact same thing that previously shut her down. Clarity brings confidence. Look for the tell tale signs of confidence in Jen’s dogs the video below.

DukeGPPerhaps the lesson for you is that of possibilities. Change brings new hope. Here is what Jen added about making the transition to Handling360.

“Initially, I had reservations about changing my handling because I’ve been very successful with the previous system I used…and not only that, I really loved it.  Because Susan had tremendous success in that old system as well, I knew I could count on her to lead the way in evolving what she had learned from a solid foundation into even more brilliance on the course.  

I was also unsure that I would not be able to keep track of several verbal cues.  I was the type of person that used minimal verbal cues on course and relied on my speed and positional cues.  Now that I’ve incorporated additional cues into my handling, it is just as natural as cuing my dogs to sit or down.” 

Love what Jen said near the end of the video. Working in a verbal based system does create more independence in our agility dogs giving them more control of their own abilities.

In a few weeks I am going to offer an online training series where you can try out some of our Handling360 lessons for free. This will allow you to see if “online learning” is for you and test out some of the core lessons from our Handling360 program for free! You can sign up to be notified about this series by entering your name and email address in the “Handling360 sign up box” to the right of this post.

Today I am grateful for Jen; bringing joy to her Entlebuchers while being a model for what is possible when you venture outside of your comfort zone.