Success! Is it all that it seems?!

If you follow me on social media you will know that last Tuesday Flash achieved his last win meaning he is now GRADE 7 🥳🥳.

Now I’ve had time to reflect a little I thought I’d share my feelings after realising the similarities of how I felt on Tuesday night.

Over the years I’ve had MANY people tell me that my spaniels and I wouldn’t achieve much both when I started and whilst I’ve been competing (some of these people are still in the lower grades, so it doesnt take a genius to work out what’s going on 😜) but I’m not bitter, I am thankful as it just drove me that little bit harder to prove them wrong! 😉🤪

Getting a spaniel in intermediate height into G7 isn’t easy, we need to be consistent in our skills and rely on all those fast collies going wrong! That’s why I have no desires to take Flash’s agility career any further, there is no point! It is unreleaistic to run him in Champ classes and have any chance of progression. Not many collies at that level will be going wrong! It will ruin the dynamic of how we run and put too much pressure on us to ‘perform’

I’m not blinkered when it comes to the reality of what Flash is, don’t get me wrong, he is a flippin good dog, he will do anything I ask him to, not because I’ve asked him to but because he genuinely wants to please me. We have a fantastic bond and I trust him completely. However I’m not disillusioned when it comes to his structure and physical abilities compared to that of a collie. He simply isn’t built like them! I can’t change that with any amount of training and nor would I want to! If I wanted a collie I would have purchased a collie!

So…


2 pictures EXACTLY the same feeling… 2 rosettes I often questioned if I’d ever get, not because I doubted my dogs, I have never questioned their ability but there have been MANY times I felt like giving everything up!

Agility is/ can be a lonely game, self employment is lonely without the right people around you! And in all honesty it has taken a long time to find those right people! I’ve had several low moments over the past few years where I’ve often questioned what I’m doing and why! I’ve thought about closing the business several times when the pressure of everything has just got too much.

I’m not ashamed to say I’ve had to seek help to cope with stress, loneliness and the pressures of everything this industry brings. Helping others with problems on a daily basis, although I love my job, it brings it’s own stress and being self employed you never switch off!

I’ve had to learn to seperate my emotions more and run the business as a business! I’ve had to be strict with switching off and I’ve had to structure in time for my family, own dogs and the things that recharge my battery.

The journey to Grade 7 hasn’t been easy, I’ve worked hard! Really hard! People see the rosettes I post but I don’t think they truly understand what goes on to get them. I’ve not had lucky wins, I’ve had to work darn hard!

Learning to understand dogs in general, my dogs, dog behaviour and everything inbetween! SO many courses, seminars etc etc. The learning continues still, I’m constantly learning! I have to tweak things on an almost daily basis with my dogs training plans, and I rarely train them on kit – it is all the other bits that get you the success!

🧩🧩🧩🧩🧩🧩🧩🧩🧩🧩🧩🧩🧩🧩🧩🧩🧩🧩

It’s made me both a better owner and a better trainer both for my dogs and for those I teach.

The pictures…

The 1st ever clear round many years ago (Milo) and winning into Grade 7 (Flash) I was sat on the same sofa and it dawned on me I felt exactly the same!! The achievements miles apart but exactly the same feeling!

Do you know what feeling it was?

Not one of elation or happiness, it was sheer relief! Relief I’d done it, that I was now ‘entitled’ to train other people! That now people could stop making comments because I’d achieved what they said I wouldn’t. On the journey home I cried several times!

If you have read my book you will know how hard I worked for Milo’s first clear round! And he is now chasing his own last win to G7! That is some achievement in itself!

What came inbetween?

In all honesty…

A LOT OF LIFE LESSONS

A LOT OF EDUCATION AND LEARNING

A LOT OF TRAINING (and not in the ways you may think)

A LOT OF LOVE FOR MY DOGS AND THE PATIENCE TO DO WHATS BEST FOR THEM IN THAT MOMENT – this is the key part, in that moment. Dogs are not robots and you have to help them when they need it, if you look after their emotions they will repay you ten fold!!

A LOT OF MONEY ON TRAINERS, VENUES, THROWN RUNS, TRAVEL ETC ETC

A LOT OF TEARS (GOOD AND BAD)

A LOT OF MEMORIES AND A LOT OF ROSETTES

It doesn’t matter what your goals are, it really is about the journey and what you learn along the way…

Everything happens for a reason and it happens exactly when it is meant to! Life brings you lots of lessons exactly when you need them!

Someone once told me that you can’t be a trainer unless you were G7, no one will take you seriously as a trainer etc etc… well I hope now they are happy that I got there 🤷‍♀️🤔🤣 and I hope they are still watching my page to see all the huge successes my students are having previous to my last win!!

Although I’m so happy we achieved Grade 7 I’m sad and a little annoyed that I let the words of a few people put so much pressure on myself, that I probably didn’t enjoy the journey as much as I should of! Don’t get me wrong I never put pressure on my dogs, and we have had a lot of fun along the way but I am exactly the same trainer I was before the last win on Tuesday! My advice hasn’t changed!

I think alot of people confuse my quietness with lack of knowledge, it’s not that! It’s the fact I don’t like conflict (does anyone?!) and when I’m met with conflict or personalities who are louder than my own I default to silence. If you ask me for advice and genuinely want to listen, I’d gladly give you any help that you need!

It is a shame people put so much on a label! My dogs have brought home many rosettes because I understand their individual needs and I’m grown up enough to put their needs before my own! If they are struggling with a run, I throw it, make it fun for them and try again! Pressure and dogs doesn’t go well!

Dogs will work with you not for you! Respect their needs, these needs change from moment to moment and you need to respect that and look after them.

So for Flash and agility I’m not sure what comes next, we have a few shows with entries paid for and I will see what happens, if I feel at any moment he isn’t enjoying it we will stop competing and enjoy whatever it is he wants to do next.


I now get to share my experiences and education with my students, to ensure they all continue to achieve whatever goal they desire, by learning to understand their individual dogs and doing what’s best for them – the dogs will then repay them with achieving their HUMAN goals 😉💕.

Happy Training

Katrina 🐾

Turning ‘failure’ into Focus 💪

Yesterday after my blog went live I received so many lovely messages from friends and clients 💕 . These messages said how much they enjoyed reading the blog, but more importantly how they completely resonated with my story.

I believe as a coach it is so important to tell the whole story warts and all!

Dog training is hard, sport is hard. It takes dedication, commitment, consistency, desire, vision and hard work!

I wouldn’t be a very good coach if I just told you all the good bits, the good bits are fantastic but you don’t learn from them. The hard bits are what make you grow both as an agility handler but as a person too!

Today I’m at a place where I can laugh about the antics of the weekend. Instead of it making me wollow in despair, it is the wind in my sails to push on to the next one! It was funny actually, just after I finished writing yesterday’s blog I checked my emails, in my emails was my running order for the next show in a couple of weeks time.

I could have thought ‘oh what’s the point in going etc etc’ but that is when you pull out your WHY card!

What’s a WHY card? It’s your reason for doing what you do, or in my case competing in dog agility.

I do it because I love connecting with my dogs and having fun! The relationship it gives you partaking in the sport together is like no feeling that can be matched. It isn’t about winning or proving a point, it’s about me and my dogs. In those 40 odd seconds that I’m in the ring I forget about everything else!

People have often asked me if I get scared when competiting and I used to, but that’s because I was focusing on all the external factors of people watching etc. When your in that moment with your dog is is like nothing else exists, just you and him having fun together.

I could have easily given up but that’s not me! If I gave up then I would miss out, my dogs would miss out and we would all be a lot more miserable as a result!

So I do what I have always done and what I tell my students to do after every single training session.

Evaluate, analyse, action!

I know what I need to do for next time, I know what skills I need to brush up on. I have learned from the mistakes I made and I will use that information to propel me forwards!

The first step is to write a plan but the most important step is to action that plan! It is no good me writing a plan if I don’t do it! It won’t work unless I do!

I think that is where the majority of people fail with their training. They know what went wrong but don’t actually take the action to improve!

My logo is jigsaw blocks for a reason. Each block represents the pieces that fit together to make the bigger game of agility.

There is no one size fits all, each dog is individual, each handler is individual and as a team they are unique in comparison to the next.

As a coach I look at all the individualities in the team, bring out their best qualities and help guide them in improving their weaknesses.

We all have weaknesses, it is about recognising them, being honest and putting a plan in place to turn those weaknesses into strengths!

That’s what I have done with this weekends competition.

I’ve analysed, written a plan and with the help of the team around me I know both me and my dogs will be physically and mentally stronger, happier and ready to take on the next competition with a new set of goals ❤.

A friend reminded me yesterday of a quote and I will leave it here for you.

Happy training

Katrina 🐾

What a weekend! 🤯💪😭🥳

Wow! I don’t know where to start with my write up about this weekends competition 🙃.

If you don’t want to read all of this blog for a detailed explanation then I think this sums it all up perfectly:

Let’s start with the fact that I had already had a rough week emotionally. My cat of 15.5 years, Molly, had to be put to sleep last Wednesday which was awful! 💔🤎 Being self employed, it had also been one of those weeks where you wonder why you run a business! So to say I wasn’t really emotionally ‘in the game’ is probably an understatement.

To add to the stress, on Saturday the competition rings were running ahead of schedule which meant a mad rush to get to the venue! The venue is 1.5 hours away so unfortunately no time for the meal which was planned beforehand to be the fuel for all my runs 🤦‍♀️.

Lesson 1 be more prepared! Have nutritious food in the cupboard that you can easily grab in times of need! Running off lucozade isn’t ideal!! Especially when the return home is not till 11pm!

As a coach there is a huge pressure to perform well. There are lots of eyes watching 👀 , from students to well meaning friends I know they are all watching to see how we get on. Unfortunately there are also people watching who have not always been supportive and I know deep down they thrive on my failures purely to make themselves feel better!

This is tough! Not only on me but on my dogs! I think people forget sometimes that behind the brand I am also a person with feelings.

I need to mentally and physically be on top form for my dogs. Any pressure or negative thoughts rub off on them. I have felt slight signs recently that this is happening with both Milo and Flash which in turn doesn’t make competing very much fun for any of us!

On Saturday, competition wise some of the courses were tough. Tricky weave entries which we haven’t trained, hard lines for the dogs and lots of running for me which I wasn’t physically prepared for!

Overall the boys did well although it didn’t feel like it at the time! Milo picked up a 3rd and 4th place in the agility and Flash had a clear Jumping win 🏆 🥳🥳.

A few months back I would be SO happy with those results but in all honesty I felt frustrated!

Why? Because both Milo and Flash need just 1 agility win each to get to Grade 7 which is the highest level here in the UK.

Flash had an agility run last on Saturday night and as I was walking the course my agility trainer came up to me and offered some advice. That advice at the time really wasn’t what I wanted to hear but made complete sense. I trust my trainer completely so did as I was told. We trained Flash’s agility round, I held his contacts and tested his skills as instructed.

See the thing is with being a coach you can’t coach yourself! You are too close emotionally to make the right choices. I mean the coach side of me knows what to do, I do this every day as a job with many successful students, but when it is your own training your emotions get involved and that makes things complicated!!

Despite our fantastic results on Saturday I came away feeling deflated that we hadn’t got that last win, especially when several messages came through from people watching the results online asking “does that win mean your Grade 7 now”

I felt rubbish on Saturday night, emotionally I could only focus on all the negativity despite clutching a handful of rosettes and a trophy!

A couple of weeks ago I made the decision to hire a personal trainer. This was something way out of my comfort zone as I will be the first to admit I find fitness hard.

On my first session he told me the first thing I needed to focus on to get where I wanted to be with my fitness goals was my mindset!  I completely got what he was saying, it is what I tell my students every day but I hadn’t applied it to my own fitness goals.

I had a chat with my trainer about my performance on Saturday and in that chat the realisation hit me, that I am putting all my focus on that last win! I felt frustrated with myself as this isn’t me! It isn’t how I train and it isn’t what I’m about!! I had let the external pressure from everyone else get in my head and I wasn’t enjoying it!

We set some new goals for Sunday which I admit was hard to do, to change my mindset, but I knew from what I know as a coach that it was 100% the right move.

Sunday was a tough day. I really had to stop thinking of running to win and started running to purely reconnect with my dogs and get the spark back that had been dulled down just recently.

Flash had a tough day competing, he slipped in a tunnel which lost all of his confidence for the future runs that day. I had to change my handling to build his confidence back up in each run as he had completely lost all his drive. I had to just concentrate on that one goal… getting the tunnels back to normal.

This meant our runs took ages. I did everything at his pace and made a big deal of rewarding him verbally and physically (clapping etc) as much as I could just to build up his confidence. By his last run he was 80% back to normal with driving to a tunnel but boy it was tough. It was the realisation that the wins don’t matter my dogs do!

Just recently I have been trying to prove my worth as a trainer to all the people who have been doubting me! I believed that those last wins will make me feel adequate. My coach reminded me that that’s not the case and Flash confirmed this with his slip in the tunnel.

Milo’s runs were 100% on track for what I had set out to achieve that day, reconnection and fun! His first run was a jumping run. I went into the ring with no expectations other than to have fun! Milo had a start line wait!! I couldn’t believe it! He NEVER has a start line wait in the ring!  If nothing else went right in that round I would have been happy but that was one of the best runs I’ve done with Milo in a long time!

Results wise we got E’d as I sent him to the wrong jump but I wasn’t even thinking of the route I was focusing on our connection and fun! I didn’t care we’d gone the wrong way, he had some fantastic skills in that round. I laughed and smiled all the way round and Milo was so happy!

Leaving the ring we had a massive party and a big reward! All the way back to the car we were connecting and having fun! It was like he had won even though we got eliminated. I felt fantastic and so did he.. that spark was back! 💪

Milo’s last run was an agility one and it was really tough for me not to think ‘ooh maybe this will be the one’ The run went brilliantly, I couldn’t have asked for more from him, he was paw perfect.

We partied just like we had before and walking back to the van felt amazing.

What happened next was emotional to say the least. Milo was in first place and I knew the class was due to close any moment. Could it be too good to be true?

Yes it could!💔 The last dog to run beat Milo by 1 second pushing us down into 2nd place!

The emotional roller coaster was awful! It took all my strength not to burst into tears! I was delighted his runs had gone so well but loosing out by 1 second was tough.

I knew I had to focus on something to take my mind away from the negativity, so I immediately wrote a list of positive take homes from the weekend and also a list of training improvements.

On writing my list I realised how good my weekend had been. I had achieved lots and I had also achieved Sunday’s new goal of reconnecting with my dogs and having fun again in the ring.

So I suppose the moral of this blog is never forget your core values! I had due to external pressures that ultimately I can’t control! This weekend was a reminder of that for me!! Every day is a school day and an opportunity to learn and grow!

Surround yourself with like minded people, invest in good coaches and listen to their advice even when you might not want to!! My agility trainers and my personal trainer play such an important role in making me and my dogs successful.

“If your trainer doesn’t have a trainer, find a new trainer!”

Your success is defined by you not anyone else!

We are all human, even us coaches are allowed off days but what defines us is knowing that these tough days will make us stronger 💪.

Always have fun with your dog! The results do not matter but the relationship you create in the ring does!

Happy training from a tired but determined Team KB 💪 🧡🖤 🐾

Fair doesn’t always mean equal!

Yesterday I attended the Kennel Club International Agility Festival which is being held at Rutland Showground. It is a very busy show with thousands of dogs at the venue. You may be surprised to read that I only took two out of my three dogs! Yes I left one at home!! 😳 (obviously in the care of a family member)

You see fair doesn’t always mean equal, when we do anything with our dogs it is really important to ask ourselves if our dogs would actually enjoy the experience too?!

Dogs often don’t get a choice when it comes to us taking them out for the day and it can often be hard to spot the signs if our dog is feeling uncomfortable.

Yesterday I left Milo at home and took Quest and Flash out for the day. As you can see from the pictures below, both Quest and Flash were more than happy being in that environment. I couldn’t be sure that Milo would have the same experience so I left him at home, it is a simple as that.

You might be wondering if I felt bad for leaving Milo at home and the honest answer is yes, for a brief second because that’s human nature but I knew that he would be having a lovely time at home being spoilt and having all the attention to himself for the day.

I’d never been to the KCIAF before but I knew it was a very large event and until I had visited and knew what to expect I didn’t want to take Milo as this wouldn’t be fair on him.

If you’ve read my book then you know Milo has different needs to my other two dogs. He can be anxious in certain situations and it really wouldn’t be fair for me to take him and just hope he would be OK, especially if I then expected him to play agility.

Not every situation is right for every dog and we can often put our own needs and wants before those of our four-legged friend! We then sometimes get frustrated if we are in these situations and the dog isn’t behaving how we would like, rather than looking at why the dog is acting that way.

In dogs, behaviour is driven by emotion and it is important to look beyond the behaviour  and ask why the dog is behaving in that way.

Our own emotions also effect the dogs behaviour, take my agility runs yesterday for example. Flash had two agility runs yesterday, he is a dog who is very consistent in his agility but in his first run yesterday, if you were watching you would wonder if he had ever been trained! 😆 This is because MY nerves got to me. It is a very big event, I had never competed there before and I didn’t handle the course to the best of my ability and it resulted in an elimination.

Flash didn’t know any different though, we still had fun and kept smiling and he still got a big reward at the end with me laughing at how awful that particular run had been 🤦‍♀️.

Now if that had happened with Milo it would have massively effected his confidence. Milo picks up on my emotions and these can change how he behaves. Flash isn’t like that in the way Milo is, and aslong as I keep the experience fun then Flash doesn’t know any different. If Milo gets something wrong in agility his confidence takes a dive, and in those split seconds our human behaviour can alert the dog to this despite all our efforts to not let on!

Flash’s second run was much better, I had less nerves and it resulted in a clear round. He came in at 11th in a class of 48ish dogs, mostly collies, so I’m really pleased with his result.

I didn’t go to the event with any big goals in mind at all, I never do when it comes to competition. You never know what is going to happen. Yes, you can train and prepare but your working with an animal who has their own brain and the ability to make their own choices. A clear round is, I suppose, my main goal but if it doesn’t happen then it is no big deal.

We play agility for us, for FUN, to give the dog an outlet to work their brain but ultimately we do it for ourselves. It is so important to consider the emotional needs of the dogs who let us enjoy this sport.

Milo loves his agility but he wouldn’t of necessarily enjoyed the environment it was being held in yesterday and for me his enjoyment of it means more than the actual results themselves.

Agility is built on relationship, nurture that relationship and you will both enjoy the experience far more. A byproduct of that will be the results that follow anyway.

I train my dogs in agility for me, to allow us to enjoy something together that inhances our relationship and gives my dogs a chance to work their brains as well as their bodies.

I’ve been criticised in the past for not attending certain shows which are larger or not doing things the way others think I should, but these people need to remember I don’t do agility for you, I do it for me! I don’t need to prove anything to anyone other than that my dogs are happy 🙂.

Agility is a competitive sport but the competition shouldn’t be with others, it should be with yourself. Are your dogs getting better or are they regressing, if the latter look at WHY.

Comparison is the theif of joy, never compare with other people, dogs etc. Everyone is on their own journey, just enjoy that journey as much as you possibly can.

Play…Train…Enjoy…Succeed!

Katrina 🐾

July Success

This weekend I took my dogs to the Agility Vision show.

We came home with the following:

Milo only needed one more win for Grade 6 and actually got 2! He also gained enough points to claim his Agility Warrant Silver which now gives him new letters after his kennel club name 🙂.

Flash won into Grade 5 in June and is in his 25 day period (this is a period of 25 days from winning into a new grade that any further wins do not count for progression) Flash is unaware of this rule and brought home 3 clear wins and a 2nd place.

Having 5 clear wins at one show is quite an achievement, I am not one to blow my own trumpet but when I see places popping up which encourage you to try agility with the full kit and no regard for the dogs safety and welfare it does make me a little bit sad.

I spend lots of time researching, learning and updating my skills and the dogs safety and welfare is at the heart of everything I do. The reason my dogs get results is because I understand them! I have numerous qualifications in dog training and behaviour and I am constantly updating my knowledge. I also train with some of the best agility coaches and instructors in the UK and I do various online learning from agility trainers all over the world. This filters down into my own teaching.

The dog training and walking industry isn’t regulated, this means anyone without ANY qualifications or knowledge can walk or train your dog. To me that is scary, just because you love animals and once had a dog doesn’t qualify you to throw packs of dogs together and take them on a group walk!! And it equally doesn’t enable you to train them. There are also agility trainers out there who haven’t even got a clear round rosette nevermind any wins!!

Dog behaviour is complex, it is up to us as owners to do the best for our dogs by only allowing them the best care and training and entrusting them with people that understand and know their stuff! Would you go to the dentist if the dentist didn’t know the first thing about teeth?! Or would you put your child in the care of someone who hadn’t had all the relevant checks?!

If we are a nation of dog lovers then we owe it to our dogs to understand them and give them the best care possible!

My dogs get results because I start with solid foundations. Yes these aren’t the kit and can seem a bit boring if your wanting to do all the sexy stuff, however I see it time and time again when the foundations are rushed as the handlers desires outweigh what the dog needs at the time.

To train and teach successfully you need an understanding of dog behaviour and reinforcement from the dogs point of view. What we think, and what is actually happening can be two very different things.

My logo is made up of jigsaw pieces for a reason, all the little bits slot together to make the bigger game of agility.

My training won’t suit you if your wanting to treat it like it is a trip to the play park. If your wanting to have fun learning how to truly understand your dog and build an amazing team together then that is what I do!

I don’t train your dog, I train YOU;

  • To understand agility as a sport
  • I help you to train solid foundations
  • I guide you on your journey to understanding your individual dogs needs as you become that perfect team.

These 3 things will get you results even if those results are just a better relationship with your dog and a calmer dog in the home!

Do you need to compete to train with me? Absolutely not, but you will be more than equipped if you ever decide to take it to the ring as my training is exactly the same for competing dogs as it is for ones that just do it for fun. It isn’t focused on competition, it is focused on solid foundations, understanding and teamwork skills … these just happen to be exactly what you need before taking it into a ring 😉.

Play…Train…Enjoy…SUCCEED!

Our Agility Show Routine

Even though we haven’t got any shows to go to at the moment, I thought I would revisit this old blog from my previous website and update it with any changes, the content may be useful for some of you so I didn’t want it to disappear with my old website.

Our Agility Show Routine:

I thought I’d write a little blog about what we do before and after a show as I am a massive believer about our dogs not only being physically ready to compete but more importantly mentally ready!

Mental preperation for your dog is so important, I see lots of dogs that in my opinion are far from ready to be put into the ring which can lead to all kinds of problems for the dog which then lead to the dog making mistakes which then leads to a wrongly frustrated handler!!

So what do I do on the lead up, at the show and afterwards? Here is a little run down for you :

The following routine works really well for us. I’m not suggesting that you copy it exactly, but that you find a routine that suits you and your dog to make sure they are calm and happy when competing or even in a class environment.

You all know I bang on about calmness a lot and the reason for that is because it is SO important! For anyone wanting to know more we run a very informative workshop on calmness, I’d recommend booking on that as a fantastic starting point.

On the lead up to a show my dogs will be ’emptying their buckets’ for at least the 2 days before, they won’t go on a walk – they will be practicing lots of calming activities and calm games at home and we will do a lot of scent work to keep their minds busy in a calm manner.

At the show when we arrive we take each dog individually for a little walk round (on lead) to stretch their legs and go to the toilet.

If the dogs aren’t running (having a go at the competition) they will be relaxing in their crates in the van, you will never see my dogs ringside unless they are either queuing, or we are doing a bit of training, and even then it is max 10 mins but we don’t usually train skills at a show we are competing at.

Flash did a lot of visiting the show environment right from being a puppy and growing up as we were there with Milo. We walked him round, played games, practiced recalls, sit and waits etc just to get him happy being around the show.

Milo didn’t have as much of this preperation and I do belive this is what contributed to his previous lack of confidence in a show environment. The games are so powerful as they are what have transformed Milo’s confidence and just seeing how happy he is at a show now is everything to me!

We have trained / rehearsed the dogs being calm in crates since they were puppies and we have then transferred this over into the van – it’s important to mention our van is kitted out especially for the dogs in all weathers. NEVER leave a dog in a car that is too hot / cold or if the dog isn’t happy in it! If you planning on competing with your dog it is something to consider that your car is adequately kitted out for the dogs in hot weather with adequate cooling methods etc and also for the cold months too as there is a lot of hanging around at competitions.

Once they have been to the loo, depending on the timings of their runs they are back in their crates right until they are due to have their turn.

When it’s our go, we get them out of the van, walk them round calmly and ask them to go to the toilet, they have opportunity to sniff and take in their environment while we are on the way to the queue. We also make sure they are warmed up and physically ready to run.

When we get into the queue it is all about focus and calmness while we wait. My dogs are given space from others, they don’t interact with other dogs or people but there is a constant interaction with me – it is a pet hate of mine when dogs are in the queue interacting with other dogs, as often the dogs don’t like it or they are more interested in the other dogs than the owner which then doesn’t transfer well to the ring! Both my dogs have a different routine to what I do with them in the queue as they both have a different personality and I match the games to suit this.

I guard my dogs very much from interacting with other dogs and people while we are in that environment as its not fair on them if I give them mixed signals on what is allowed sometimes and what isn’t. Imagine how confusing it is for them if we allowed them to say hello to dogs sometimes but then a few mins later, a few yards away they suddenly had to forget about that dog and run agility!

After the run they are rewarded whatever the outcome and I get my dog out of the arena as fast but as calmly as possible – their adrenaline is pumping, they have just concentrated, ran and worked hard for me, this is when their ‘bucket’ would be filling quite fast! When outside I allow them to sniff if they want to, we slowly walk back to the van allowing them to cool down, I guard them from any passing dogs by playing focus games, scatter feeding or simply moving them out of the way.

They are in the arena / environment for maximum 5 minutes, their actual agility run lasts anywhere between 22 and 40 SECONDS. But please don’t underestimate how mentally tough this is for them!

In the van they get a big fuss, another reward and and calming activity to do, I make sure their water bowl is full and I cover their crate to allow them to switch off. This process is repeated throughout the day depending on how many runs the dogs have and the timing of those runs.

The day(s) after a show the dogs spend time ’emptying their buckets’ in the same way they did previous to the show, they won’t be walked, they will have lots of rest time to allow both their bodies and their minds to recover, they will play calm scent games, have Likimats and enjoy time relaxing with lots of cuddles too!

Lots of people don’t train their dogs to switch off and this is so so important for not only agility training but for everyday life !! I work with lots of dogs that spend their time in high arousal where they just can’t think straight – owners often make the mistake of branding the dog ‘naughty or stubborn’

As trainer I’ve never met a naughty or stubborn dog yet – I’ve met lots of dogs who are ‘highly aroused’ either through being worried or excited and I’ve also met lots of dogs who just simply don’t understand the tasks the owners are setting them.

Mental wellbeing in dogs is something I’m hugely passionate about, lots of owners could eradicate problematic behaviours and get a better agility performance if they only knew how to spot the signs and help their dogs out in all situations.

I will never know everything as a trainer and I find that really exciting – the dog world is rapidly growing and this is why it is so important that we grow with it, learning is key!

We will never stop learning, we are always on training courses, workshops and camps to expand our knowledge and training is always ongoing with my dogs. This knowledge then gets passed down to you with workshops, classes and events.

Keep your dogs happy and everyone’s a winner despite the results!

Play… Train… Enjoy… Succeed!

Katrina 

Why I Don’t (Always) Walk My Dog!

As some of you know, before concentrating on agility training I ran Tails and Peaks Dog Training. I am currently in the process of tidying up the old website and I noticed there are a few good blogs on there that I have written some time ago.

Instead of loosing these blogs forever I have decided to post them on here! Some of them wont be specifically about agility training but they will all be relevant to dog training and care. Enjoy!

This Blog was originally written in November 2019

Now the title of this has probably grabbed your attention as we live in a society where we are told we HAVE to walk our dogs..

Well what if those walks did more harm than good??!

So today I decided to take Milo out on a walk round our ‘quiet little village’

Milo and I don’t go out on regular walks (you will realise why as you read this blog) so I thought as my agility training got cancelled and we haven’t been out round the village for a while that we would take a stroll.

**before I go on let me just firstly point out that he gets his physical exercise regularly in other forms**

Anyway, Milo is a dog who can get worried and anxious, I have done lots of training work with him and I know his personality very well. One of his choice behaviours when both anxious and exited is to bark. Although he is friendly with dogs he knows, he gets worried by strange dogs and certainly doesn’t like ones in his face or personal space as he can get worried by them. He can be noise sensitive and he sometimes finds things scary if he’s not expecting them to be there. Children can sometimes worry him. He absolutely LOVES food, this includes the stuff he shouldn’t eat too!

Today it is raining and Milo isn’t a huge fan of the rain. The rain can also amplify sound for dogs.

So with all this in mind we set off for our walk. When I walk my dogs my whole attention goes on them. I don’t just walk them I walk WITH them, we share the experience together. I am very mindful of their personality and needs.

Let me give you a run down of all the things that happened on the hour we were out:

  • Loud bangs while I am locking the door from workmen down the road.
  • Birds flying in and out of bushes right past Milo’s Nose.
  • Wall walking – one of Milo’s favourite things to do!
  • Off lead dog being walked along narrow pavement, ignores owner who asks dog to sit, owner lets dog come over and pester us despite the fact we keep walking!
  • Lots of sniffs – some good and one that was a bit scary!
  • Man in a wheelchair getting in a taxi via a ramp in the boot.
  • Children going to school, all various ages.
  • Dogs being walked of all ages and sizes but all lunging and pulling owners towards us to try and get to us.
  • Off lead spaniel being walked through field, owner doesn’t put dog on lead at roadside, they continue to march past with dog off lead and don’t even consider to put it on the lead despite carrying one in their hand.
  • 2 dogs on lead in field , one off lead (same owner) As we enter the field the off lead dog runs over to us at full speed barking constantly at us ( I was near the gate and left the field and waited politely next to a car – using the car to shield Milo from said off lead dog as it still hadn’t been put on a lead) Owner then rudely decided to tell me I could have waited in the field, when I explained Milo wouldn’t like the dog running up to him yapping at him, she then told me that “she’s only noisy” (I will leave the fact that this lady is also a dog trainer and keep my opinions to myself on that one!!)
  • 2 dogs being walked on lead through field.
  • Sheep in the field (further down but still in the same field – there is no fence separating them from the path)
  • 3 separate dogs fence running and barking at us as we walk past their house.
  • Loud bin wagon emptying an industrial bin.
  • Jogger running past us.
  • Car mechanic’s working on a couple of cars.
  • Dropped sweets on the pavement.
  • Neighbours going out with their crying grandchild just as we arrive back home.

So, the list above …quite a list isn’t it when we drill everything down to step by step moments?! It is fine, it’s real life .. all the above happens but it is the reason I don’t do it regularly with Milo!!

I KNOW my dog, it is MY job as a responsible dog owner to be his advocate, to protect him, to ensure he can trust me not to put him any scary situations at all!! Would you like to do something everyday that worries you? Probably not!

Was he worried today?

NO!

He didn’t bark or react once! – and I am not saying that to brag, I am saying it to let you know it is ok to do what is right for YOUR DOG!

Yes there were times on today’s walk that people looked at me gone out – like there was something wrong with what I was doing . .

  • I didn’t allow Milo to say hello to any of the dogs I came across. I actively avoided them! I took a wide birth, I crossed over, I used cars to shield him. I ignored the comments of owners who thought they knew best! (just smile and keep walking!)
  • We practiced disengagement from anything and everything (including dropped sweets)
  • We had fun with loose lead walking games.
  • We (well Milo) had sniffing time while we were in the field (on lead)
  • We played on lead games in the field.
  • He got to walk on walls which he loves!
  • We paired anything that could be deemed as scary with lots of reinforcement.
  • We trained on our walk.
  • We had fun experiences together.

Could I have done things differently, yes I could. I could of had the walk others wanted me to have – to let him meet every dog there was to meet, I could have ignored anything that made a loud bang or that was a bit unusual, I could have let him off lead.

But I didn’t and because I didn’t we had a really successful walk – LOTS of fun, no dramas, no barking – just a good time!

What did I do when I got back? I made sure he had a comfortable place to relax (without our other dog pestering him ) In Milo’s case this is his crate as he loves his crate, it is his little safe den. I gave him a pizzle chew and I’ve let him empty his brain bucket, chill out and relax, I have given him time to truly switch off.

Just because he didn’t have a reaction, doesn’t mean it hasn’t had an effect on his arousal levels.

What did I take with me in terms of food rewards for training, well I have put a picture below:

So quite a lot!

Did I use it all, No!!

The picture above is what I brought home, I realised I wanted to write this blog and I quickly emptied my pockets to show you what I took and what I didn’t use. I often hear from owners that they don’t like using food as a reward – well let me tell you something your boss at work probably doesn’t like paying you each day, they would much rather keep the money in their pocket, but if they didn’t pay you then you wouldn’t work! Simple! It is the same with dog training – dog’s need paying for the good choices that they make! I have varying values of food which I can use depending on the training or what I want to reward at the time! His normal kibble is the brown round pieces – we mainly used that today, yes the food he will be getting today anyway!

We used his normal food for the majority of training on today’s walk. I used some chicken as a jackpot reward, a bit of the dried liver for training games in the field as it is larger so he could see it easily in the long grass. The rest I didn’t even use.

The moral of this blog is :

Please don’t be a D**K with your dog – yes your dog may like to say hello to others, but they might not want to say hello back! Put them on a lead around other dogs always unless the other owner has said it is ok.

Look after them – don’t put them in situations they may not be ready for if your not prepared to implement some training while your there.

Today on our short walk, even though it was fine, we had a good time, nothing bad happened, it reminded me why we don’t do it every day! Milo would hate being put through that daily and if he was I for sure would soon have a reactive dog instead of the one I have got.

Not every dog suits every situation. What is right for one dog may not be right for the next.

Your dog sees you as their protector – please don’t put them in situations where they may have to question that!

If you need any help with training for real life situations then please get in touch.

Play…Train…Enjoy…Succeed !