Today we had a major breakthrough in Quest’s training. All the weeks of patience, understanding and structured training has started to pay off 💙🧩🧩.
Earlier this year Quest went for a routine vet trip. It was the first time he had ever been in the vets with me. Previously due to all the lockdowns he had been handed over to the vet team in the car park.
On our visit it became apparent very quickly that Quest was scared, his whole body was shaking and when the vet went to touch him he did a little air snap. We popped a muzzle on him to be on the safe side 😔.
I muzzle train all my dogs whether they need it or not so the actual muzzle wearing was no bother at all. He is used to wearing one and enjoys playing that ‘game’. I believe it is such a vital skill for dogs to have, to be able to wear one at ease should they ever need to. When a dog is in pain or scared they may bite, so by having them used to wearing a muzzle that is one less thing that could worry them.
When I walked out the vets that day I made a promise to Quest that I’d never put him in that situation again!
Both Milo and Flash are fine at the vets as they had lots and lots of opportunity as young puppies to visit and just play games. Due to lockdown Quest didn’t and the downfall of that was a dog that was terrified.
So I put a training plan in place and part of that plan was visiting the vets twice a month for a free socialisation visit with the nurse.
The visits started with Quest just being in the same room as the nurse and very gradually building up to where we are now. It has all been done really slowly and thoughtfully, not rushed and all at a pace that Quest is happy with. He has been seeing different nurses on each visit just so he doesn’t get attached to just one.
Combined with this, at home we have been playing lots of confidence games and working on other areas of his training.
Why is this all relevant to agility?
Because in agility before your dog can compete they need to be measured.
Now Quest’s agility training has been going brilliantly, he is a little star 🌟 but the thought of putting him through a measuring session wasn’t filling me with happiness, so what did I do?
I practiced with him….
For the last few months, each day for a few minutes we have been very slowly replicating what happens at a measuring session. We started off really slowly with him just learning to stand on the platform.
Alongside this we carried on his muzzle training just incase we were to need it, we continued visiting the vets and implemented the other training we had in place. I also booked Quest 2 measuring appointments, so if he was unhappy at the first I could scrap it off and there would be the 2nd appointment scheduled a month later that we could work towards.
If you follow my socials then you will already know that Quest was measured last weekend (on his first attempt) He coped really well AND we didn’t need his muzzle! 💕✨️✨️✨️✨️✨️
Anyway back to the vets….
So for the last few months we have been working towards Quest feeling happier in the vet environment and letting unknown people touch him.
To say I’m proud of this little guy is an understatement!! 💙 ❤️
Today all the training has come together, he was happy, let the nurse examine him, walked happily behind the scenes with the nurse to get weighed and coped really well with 4 dogs in the waiting room barking at him.
Does this mean the training is done… NO! We will continue to go fortnightly as I want him to continue to feel confident and happy. Then we will drop it to once a month and then every couple of months.
Seeing him happy and confident is all I want, whether that be in the vets or the agility ring.
I will never put a dog in a situation they can’t cope with, all my training whether that be my own dogs or students dogs is done at the dogs pace.
Confidence around agility isn’t an issue for Quest but by implementing this extra training it will only help his overall confidence and happiness.
Like I always say agility is 90% what you do at home and how you make your dog FEEL.
If Quest knows he can 100% trust me to help him in ALL situations then this will transfer into the agility ring! This will transfer to more independentance skills, increased connection and trust on course, if we can trust eachother to do our ‘jobs’ out there then it will only increase performance.
Time, patience, understanding, knowledge and guidance are the best things you can ever give your dogs… the rewards and toys, they are just a bonus and a bridge between you, them and the relationship and bond you’ve created.
Look after your dogs emotional needs and they will pay you back tenfold 💕🧩🧩🧩🧩🧩🧩
While I’m in no rush to compete Quest, it is nice to know we can step into that ring as soon as we are ready. In the meantime I’m going to keep piecing those bits of our jigsaw together 💙✨️💕.