Posted by: jility | December 3, 2014

If It Ain’t Broke…

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.
  • Don’t attend seminars with presenters who like to make people cry and feel bad about themselves. This will do nothing to progress your learning or your dog’s. Being in a state tension and worry, waiting to be belittled or singled out, can make things much worse. It does not make for a good learning experience and will certainly shut down or at least, slow down your dog!
  • Find an instructor with whom you gel and stick with them, assuming they truly understand dog training and handling. How do you know if they are good instructors? Look at their students. Some instructors are great trainers and handlers themselves, but are unable to produce students who do well. Other instructors may not be wildly successful on the National and International scene, but they consistently produce great agility teams.
  • Most importantly, find an instructor who is not only kind to the students, but kind to the dogs. If you see somebody blaming their dog for their lack of training or correct handling RUN RUN RUN in the other direction! Everything our dogs do or do not do on course is 100% our responsibility, either as their handler or their trainer!
  • I know I wrote that the above is the most important, but this is moster important :). HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • HAVE FUN!!!!!!

    HAVE FUN!!!!!!

  • 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. education/

    Check them out!


    1. Great post. I share your thoughts on seminars and I now very carefully choose which to go to, at least with a working spot.

      More than a few years ago I attended a seminar given by a high profile name and after about 15 minutes I wanted my money back. It was a horrible experience; she almost made me cry and I’m not exactly a soft person. I swore off of seminars for several years.

    2. Great post. While I have changed my handling system in the last few years I am very excited to feel like the system I have is really starting to gel, and that I have a trainer that really gets what I’m trying to do. But yes, above all else be an advocate for your dog–if it seems like it might be confusing, stressful, or potentially dangerous, get outta there!

    3. I was very much of this mind for most of the past decade, but lately the changes in the sport (and between dogs) have been pushing me to changes in my training. It’s a scary time…give me a year before I decide if it was the right choice or not…

    4. Amen sister! Well said!

    5. Love this, so true 🙂 jaciB   From: The Global Warmers To: Sent: Wednesday, December 3, 2014 3:14 AM Subject: [New post] If It Ain’t Broke… #yiv5020916710 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv5020916710 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv5020916710 a.yiv5020916710primaryactionlink:link, #yiv5020916710 a.yiv5020916710primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv5020916710 a.yiv5020916710primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv5020916710 a.yiv5020916710primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv5020916710 | jility posted: “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 ex” | |

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