Thursday, June 02, 2011

Are you a good sport?

As with any competitive sport agility has it's fair share of sore losers, and bad sports. This past weekend I thought about that a lot as I watched people treat their dog unfairly, other people poorly, or beat themselves up due to something on course.

We all need to try harder to be objective about agility and put some thought into our actions and our words at a trial. Agility is first a spectator sport. Never forget there is always someone watching. Being a good sport is expected. Unfortunately that is not always the case. I won't go into detail about who/what/when/where but I do think that it will be a good discussion. I know that my area is not the only one with these sort of problems!

Agility is something we do for fun. We like the challenge, we love our dogs. A trial is really a test of your training. If your dog doesn't perform properly it is likely your fault, not the dog. It is easier to blame the dog of course, and often people do that. I bet that everyone of us at one time or another has blamed the dog for our bad training/handling. No one is perfect. I understand frustration- having a dog that slams into bars sucks. At the beginning I blamed her exclusively. Now, I realize that most bars are my fault. I had to learn that lesson though. Hopefully we all learn to recognize errors for what they are. Mistakes caused by us, or things that our dogs don't really understand. There is no sense in blaming the dog, or getting mad or upset by off courses, or knocked bars. And there is never cause for being physically or verbally abusive to your dog. There was an instance of that this weekend. It is upsetting to watch, and hopefully the person who did it will be reprimanded, and embarrassed enough to act better in public at least.

There is also putting the blame on other people. Your job as a trainer is to not only train your dog to perform the equipment, and to get around a course, but also to proof for trial situations. People at ringside, children, other dogs. Those are all things that your dog will be around at a trial- it is important that you and your dog can work past those issues at home, and then bring them to a trial. Blaming people at ringside for your dogs lack of focus is going to get you know where. Train your dog. Things are generally easier when that happens. :)

The other thing that I think people are guilty of is beating themselves up. Blaming themselves, and feeling bad about a run. I know from experience that once you get into the mindset it is hard to get out. Positive thinking is very important in agility. Sure, take responsibility for the error, but then Move On!!! Forget about it. You should be focused on the next run, and your dog- not going on about how awful the last run was. It really does make a difference in your game, and you will likely have more friends if you aren't whining about a crappy run all day....

I think we all need a reminder once in a while that Agility is Fun. Training is fun. Socialising with dog people is fun. Trialing is fun. Agility is just a game we play with our dogs after all!!

Anyway, just my 2cents on a cloudy Thursday morning...

8 comments:

Taryn said...

Excellent and well-said post!

Agility is a game we "ask" our dogs to do. No matter how much they enjoy it, if you opened the back door and set them free, they would never run courses on their own. As such, there is never, ever a time when a mistake on the agility field should ever result in negativity, or any kind of abuse toward the dog. The dog would never have made the "annoying" mistake if we hadn't asked them to play in the first place. And 99.9% of the time, it was handler error anyway!

Patty said...

Great post. It is so very true sports are something we do for fun with our dogs. We need to keep that in the forefront at all times.

I have yet to compete in agility but do actively compete in Flyball. It upsets me the way some people reprimand their dogs for bobbling a ball or running out.

Everyone needs a reminder that it is for fun and to bond with our dogs. Just relax and enjoy the time with your dog and friends.

Ashley said...

Very well said! I'm very glad you posted about this. I felt like there was a lot of negativity from a lot people at the trial this past weekend and it made me not enjoy be there as much. We can stop everyone at a trial from being negative so together as Go Dog Go we have to stay positive as a group so we don't let other other trialers get us down and we can support each other.

onecollie said...

Sometimes it is hard to stay positive, some people struggle with it, such as myself. I have worked very very hard to change some things, but every once in awhile the stubborn, negative Jolene pops up, does that make me a poor sport? I like to analyize things, that is my nature, I want to know what I did wrong to throw my dog off of a jump, so if I ask about it & want to talk about it, would that mean I am dwelling on it too long?
I don't know, there are mean people, who are mean to their dogs if they don't Q, but there are some people that just want to figure things out, have a good cry, & then carry on, I have mixed feelings about this post, sometimes there is other stuff going on in people's lives that make them over react in public when something goes wrong, I know this from personal experience.
sorry to go on, just my opinion :)

manymuddypaws said...

Jo, I agree! It is hard to be positive all the time, impossible really. Dissapointment and frustration are sometimes part of agility. And of course you should ask yourself what you did wrong and what you could have done better. The point I was trying to make is that you shouldn't carry that around with you.

Talking about issues is a good thing. Dwelling on them and letting it bring you down is not.

So no, you are not a poor sport. We already talked about that this morning. :)

onecollie said...

I like this post, it makes people think...
see I sometimes do wonder if "I" am a poor sport because I can't let things go, like a missed jump, or broad jump LOL!!...
so, good to know you don't think that makes me a poor sport, just a crazy competitive one!! :))

Catalina said...

This is a good post. I went to watch an agility trial a couple weeks ago. It was only the 2nd one I have ever been to and if I wasn't already addicted to training my dog :) I probably wouldn't have gone back to another one. There were some people (they were competitors) sitting behind us that kept making mean/rude comments about other people that were running the course. They said things like, "Well, she's wasting our time. Why did she bother coming? I would cry too if I ran like that." And other things.
I would like to trial my dog some day, but if there are people like that watching I might just stay home.

Nicki said...

Great post. It's so sad to see people yelling at their dog, hauling them off the course and just shoving them in a crate.