An agility person in my area posted a blog yesterday about agility and trialing, and training and I thought I would share it here. It is a thought provoking post, that will likely cause a few upsets among the agility folk- but worth the read anyway.
Shape Up Dogs
First off I agree 100% about the sniffy, bored, distracted dogs in agility- starters especially. We've all been in starters of course, but I know for myself I didn't put my dog into a trial until they were ready. And by ready I mean able to run a full course and stay focused on me, and on agility. I believe that sniffing is mostly an avoidance behaviour- so what is the dog avoiding? The nagging owner, scary equipment? Either way and there is some training to do at home. I realise that not all dogs come with drive for agility- but you need to build that- away from the ring. And I do know (from personal experience) that agility is not for all dogs. But if your dog consistently loses their focus, leaves the ring, then you need to be doing something about that!
I also agree that there are people who take all the fun out of agility- trying to be perfect, to train and handle to a "system" to the extent where they analyze every little thing. I am not like that. At all. Yes, I like to be consistent with my dogs and do follow a system- but I try not to stress about what to train, or how to handle, or what to do if there is a part on course that *gasp!* doesn't allow me to handle to my system. I am not outside the ring analyzing how to handle a course for an hour, nor do I stare at a piece of paper for hours. I think that when you are over analytical about agility you take all the fun out of it. Training aswell often takes hit in the fun department- let the dogs be dogs. Let them have a chance to play with other dogs if they want, let them play with a ball for doG's sake!!! You can still allow your dog to play- without you once in a while, and have a dog who loves agility, works hard, and pays attention. All of my dogs play ball, the play with each other, they play with toys without me, and are just dogs for the most part.
I play agility because it's fun. My dogs and I have moderate success. I am proud of my dogs for sure, but I don't think about agility every waking moment. There are times when i would much rather just play with my dogs than train agility- and often I do just that.
Anyway, just some thoughts for a Wednesday morning. :)