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...