Dog Training in Agility: What We Do For Love
One of my online students challenged me recently. She is a highly successful agility competitor in the United States. She has been a student on Handling360 since the beginning. She said to me last week “why do you not stress the dog training part of your program? It is the main reason I follow what you teach.” I shrugged her comment off because “the dog training” is something we just take for granted right? The more I thought about her comment the more I realized the things we take for granted are most often our greatest gifts. What is well “obvious” to us can be a massive “ah ha moment” for someone else. That is one of the reasons I love my “online coaching sessions” that we regularly have with our online students. That is the place where I sit down and ask the universe “what can I share today that can help someone right now?”
Today I want to share about the need to protect your dog’s confidence while training.
Agility brilliance comes from two places:
1. The understanding of dog training and…
2. The understanding of handling.
If you are an amazing handler you can get by with knowing less about dog training… most of the time.
If you are teaching agility to people, you can get by with just an average understanding of dog training… most of the time.
I say most of the time because not all dogs are the same. Some dogs are just naturally brilliant. They make us all look better than we really are. For those dogs, having a weaker understanding of dog training is not a big deal. They learn and perform at the top in spite of their handlers. I’m sure you have have met dogs like this.
However, for every naturally brilliant agility dog there are 10 more who bring great challenges to the table. For those dogs having a great understanding of dog training is not only helpful… it is imperative in order to bring change to that dog.
Today I’d like to bring a little “Love” into your life. Pardon the pun. Love is a 14 month old Border Collie who came into her owner’s life with so much promise. Karen flew all the way to Europe from Canada to pick up this puppy at 8 weeks old. She came from brilliant pedigrees in the agility world… she had so much promise and potential.
Yet, even though Karen was able to bring out the brilliance in her last Border Collie, they were even named to the Canadian European Open team… she was lost with Love. She did everything her instructors told her but she couldn’t reach this puppy and it broke her heart. When I started working with Karen I said to her something my students have heard me say over and over… and that is you need to protect your dog’s confidence. Number one rule of training, to bring out the best in your dog she needs to walk in confidence. Strive to do nothing more than bring that forward.
It is our job and responsibility as dog lovers, to protect it. But I’ll go one step further, we owe it to ourselves to do the same thing for our own confidence. A dog training strategy that shows progress like in the video below helps you be more confident in your choices. It empowers belief in you that you CAN do this.
However the opposite is also true. I’m sure Karen’s confidence in her own abilities took a real hit raising this puppy without seeing the outcomes she was hoping for. We all want to bring out the best in our dogs. When we can’t it is easy to believe we are the “failures.” Protect YOUR confidence, follow a dog training program that fuels your fire at the same time it is fuelling your dogs!
Here is a short video clip showing the transformation Karen has seen in Love in just 30 days working in Handling360 (a program of both handling and dog training)… a program that strives to build both you and your dog’s confidence. Love used to be a puppy who would rarely tug. Who until last week at our training facility couldn’t work in a noisy building with other dogs and people milling about. Last week she was a bright and confident puppy, full of joy as she tugged when asked and didn’t once try to leave Karen or take her focus away from her work in the midst of great distractions.
Realize agility brilliance is more than just handling …yes handling is important but there is a huge dog training component that allows the handling to become effective and possible for all dogs. What about you? How are you going to protect both your dogs and your confidence? What is your current strategy? If you would like more insight from me please follow this link to learn more about Handling360 .
Today I am grateful for Karen, who was willing to change everything she was doing and start over with us following in Handling360 as if she was a complete beginner. Showing what is possible when training happens with layers of learning that focus on protecting your dog’s confidence.