When I started agility nearly 15 years ago, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. That may still be the case today, but I feel pretty good about my agility and the direction it has taken. My recent Q rate with my standard Poodle UPGRAYEDD (aka Pankies) is extremely high (right around 90% at the time of this writing – but I know in agility that can change in the blink of an eye, especially if I keep making dumb ass mistakes as I did this past weekend!). Pretty remarkable when you consider she wouldn’t train or run a lick for several years! She was petrified of everything.
In the beginning of my agility life, I struggled and went from instructor to instructor. My first agility dog was my standard Poodle, Isabella. She had drive, but I had no idea what to do with it or how to bring out the best in her. In the end, she got an AKC MACH but her health issues caused her to retire at 6 years old.
Isabella had no startline stay, a horrible habit of leaping from the top of the aframe and I did so many messed up handling things, she was totally confused. I went to as many seminars I could. Each presenter had new advice for me. We did all those “new” moves we see in the ring today, but once I began to understand agility better, I saw the fallout from those moves.
Eventually, I found our current instructor, Stacy Winkler, and the things she said made total sense to me. I learned about criteria, drive building, confidence, handling in a more straightforward manner and the art of balancing drive with self-control. We have been with Stacy for twelve years now, and her approach to training and handling is still as meaningful today as it was twelve years ago.
Early on I continued to attended seminars from others, trying to soak up as much information as possible. After a while, I realized that jumping from seminar to seminar was doing more to confuse my dog and me than the good it might be doing, so I stopped my search for that magic pill. I learned that it was all about hard work!
I was completely happy with the results I was getting from Stacy’s training and the Greg Derrett handling system she taught. So I limited my working spots in seminars to only those who were of the same mind when it came to training and handling.
I do love to attend seminars to see what is new or experience the fun atmosphere, but in order to avoid confusion, I limit my selections to those who understand the handling system I use and whose training methods I admire.
I think if you choose to handle a certain way, then it is important to stick to that in order to have consistency. Jumping from seminar presenter to seminar presenter can add much confusion to your dog’s agility performance.
For what it is worth…
- Pick a handling style and stick to it.
- Learn from those who truly understand your system of choice.
This blog was inspired by Dog Agility Blogger Event Day subject, “Continuing Education.” You will find lots of great blogs on this subject at. http://dogagilityblogevents. wordpress.com/continuing- education/
Check them out!