Copying is unfortunately something I’ve become used to all of my life. Even back to my school days I can recall many a situation where I was being copied one way or another. When I set up this business many years back a local person copied every single thing on my website! So you could say I’m pretty used to having my ideas and content replicated.
The thing is, in dog training there are going to be similarities, dog training has been happening for years and as trainers we learn from others and replicate the things we have been taught. Any good trainer should be keeping up to date with their knowledge both practically and theoretically so good dog trainers should all tell you the same thing and be doing similar things in their practical training.
I am always referencing the people who I have learnt from when I teach. But what I don’t understand is when other businesses obviously grab recent content and try to replicate it as their own 🤷♀️.
I get it, all businesses need to attract clients but isn’t that better to do on your own merit? Come up with different ideas and think outside the box a little? I know I’d soon get caught out if I was to just regurgitate information I have heard without the backed up learning theory… what if I was to be asked a question and I fumbled and didn’t know the answer? I’d soon look like a fraud! 😆
People buy people, that is a fact. One thing that can’t be replicated is someone’s identity, their uniqueness and how that person makes others feel.
We live in a world full of comparisons and in reality you should only ever be competing with yourself.
Are you a better version of you today than you were yesterday?
Once you get into that mindset of just watching others and trying to do as they do, it is a quick downward spiral to losing your own identity!
There are hundreds of agility trainers, they will all teach you how to get over kit. Some will go into more detail than others depending on why they are teaching, who they are teaching, what experience they have and how current their education is. Just because someone has been doing it years doesn’t mean they have been doing it well or correctly all those years!
You need a balance of experience, education and up to date achievements. Take the grade progression for example, it was a lot easier a few years back to progress to Grade 7 than it is now!
When you are looking at trainers look at what they are doing now, how are their current dogs doing? Have they attended courses recently both theory and practical? What do they teach in their lessons? Can you go and watch before you commit? Are the dogs happy and content when training? Are they encouraging? Can they answer questions? Is the environment a good place for the dogs to learn?
These are all the things that differentiate one trainer from another.
I personally see it as a complement when I see similarities start to pop up or I get told what others are doing. I could get upset but the reality is they like what they see and want some of it themselves! How could that not be a complement?!
Anyway to the person who loves my ideas, thank you 😊. By replicating what I do you will hopefully be able to help more owners and dogs and you will be helping to spread the word about kind and ethical training with the similar content you are putting out to the world.
Me, I’m off to rebrand a few of my courses as I like to be unique, so any similarities will soon be gone 😉. I like to keep things fresh and when I see similarities start to appear I simply create something new!
On Sunday we had a trip to Agility Vision as Flash had qualified for the Grand National Finals sponsored by Adams Agility.
We weren’t expecting much as both dogs have been having a semi break from competing so we are a bit out of practice at shows as we haven’t been doing many this summer 🤣.
I wasn’t actually going to run Flash in the final as in an earlier agility run he came off the end of the seesaw and scared himself a little and we didn’t complete that run. Luckily he had another agility run to do with my only aim being to raise his confidence and I would just see how he went. If he wasn’t happy I wasn’t going to run him in the finals. We have been doing a lot of work on building Flash’s confidence recently so I wasn’t going to do anything that would jeopardise what we have built so far.
Flash was fine in the agility run, we occurred a few seconds time faults as I was taking my time making sure he was happy on the contacts before carrying on, as I was so focused on the contacts I also forgot the course half way round so that too didn’t help with the timing 🤦♀️🤣.
We had never run in a final before so I really didn’t know what to expect. I was actually not nervous at all, something that really surprised me. I used to get so nervous before running the dogs but I don’t so much now in normal classes, but with this being a final and with all the spectators I was expecting the nerves to return but thankfully they didn’t 😀.
The ring had a really nice atmosphere and each side was packed with spectators. We had been given a course plan a few hours before the final so we could make ourselves familiar with the course and it really helped me prepare what I wanted to do when it was time for course walking.
I was so impressed with Flash and how he coped with the commentary and crowd. We were 6th to run and his run went really well and he went clear. All I was wanting was to see him happy in the ring. I wasn’t thinking about placings as to be honest, running in intermediate height against collies is never an easy task. They are physically at an advantage compared to a springer spaniel. Flash is accurate but he doesn’t have the speed of a collie.
With it being both mine and Flash’s first experience of a finals I just wanted to enjoy it!
We were in first place right up until dog number 11, then after more dogs ran we were down to 4th.
We ‘would/might have’ finished 2nd, as the 2nd and 3rd place dogs both gained faults but the judge then changed her mind about giving the faults as the dogs were running the course 🤷♀️. I don’t mind at all though as to come 4th with a happy Flash and me with no nerves made me super proud!
What made the day extra specialis that my Mum, Dad and Daughter had come to watch some of our runs, and my Dad and Daughter were there for the final. They had never been to a show before and to have them there supporting me (along with John) was really nice.
It strengthened my belief that it is the memories that you make at a show that count, the rosettes are nice but the memories are what really matter. That is why I make sure my dogs are 100% happy when running with me, we want happy memories or otherwise what is the point in competing?!
Overall we have had a fantastic finals show. To make it even more special Milo brought home a clear 2nd place in his agility run earlier that day earning him more points towards his next agility warrant.
We hope you have all enjoyed your bank holiday weekend whether you have been competing or not.
Till next time, happy training!
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Those that follow my social media will already know that I have laser targeted the business to focus on problematic agility behaviour. You may be wondering why I’ve done this, so I thought I’d explain.
Dog behaviour is fascinating and I love agility as a sport – so why not combine the two and help as many handlers as possible to achieve whatever success they desire!
Problematic behaviour in agility isn’t something that is routinely covered in your standard agility classes but it is something that, in my opinion is way more important than the kit itself! If we truly understand what is happening in our dogs world at each moment we are training them, then the training would be far more successful than just training the kit on its own!
There are many fantastic agility trainers that teach the agility skills, both online and offline but what I found has been missing is the dogs emotional state when training! (I get it, I have been there, it is hard when you have a set workshop planned and certain skills people have signed up to train, so I completely understand why it is often overlooked).
Dog behaviour really fascinates me, I am constantly learning new things, taking new courses and updating my knowledge and skills but I found I wasn’t using all this knowledge by just training the agility kit and I was often faced with dogs who weren’t in a place mentally to take in the learning as it was intended.
What a waste not to be able to use my knowledge to help as many handlers and dogs as possible to progress by just a few tweeks to their standard training! Dogs are brilliant and have been bred for many generations to please us, we owe it to them to understand them as much as possible!
If your dog is barking and in high arousal, unless we have taught them certain skills to think when in that state of mind then the training will not be as successful as it could be. If the dog is jumping up and nipping the handler while training or competing, instead of labelling the dog as ‘silly’ ‘crazy’ or ‘stubborn’ ask yourself WHY this is happening. Help the dog out in that situation instead of chastising them, this would be far more beneficial in the long run than giving them a label they don’t deserve! I have never met a crazy or stubborn dog yet in all my years of training – I have however met several that are worried, frustrated or over excited and struggling to understand what their handler is asking them to do in that moment in time!
The spaniels that have all been labelled as ‘just sniffy dogs’ lets look at WHY they are sniffing and help them out with teaching them what we want them to do instead! The collies that lunge and bark on the lead while their handlers are chatting ringside – let’s help them to disengage and learn them an alternative behaviour that will put them in a better mindset to listen when they enter the ring! I could go on with the list but I think you get my point.
Agility is 90% of what you do at home and what the dog is rehearsing day in day out – and I don’t mean on the kit.
A lot of the dogs I work with have success very quickly once their handlers open their mind to this lateral step in their thinking and training. They start to train the dog in front of them and not the one they think they should have on the end of their lead.
Dogs are individual and behaviour can change in an instant. If you look after how your dog feels and make it easy for them to understand what it is you want, then training them the actual agility skills is the easy part!
There is little point in training a dog on kit who is unable to focus due to the environment or distractions!!
I have made this sideways step as that is exactly what I did with Milo when I was training him all those years ago. Back then it was harder as looking at the dogs emotions wasn’t as widely known as it is now. I had to ignore the comments that I was feeding him too much or several other snide remarks I received along the way! I knew I was doing right by him and the effort and training paid off, he is now in grade 7 and for a first agility dog with the new rules of agility progression I would say that is an achievement in itself! Flash has now joined him in grade 7 and it is all down to me understanding their individual needs in each moment of time they are training or competing.
I never have pushed my dogs to perform, I don’t actually train them on kit that often at all, but what I do is understand their needs and look at what areas may need topping up. Confidence, focus, tolerance to frustration, disengagement – all these skills are vital in agility yet none involve jumps, tunnels, weaves or contact equipment! I obviously do have to train them on kit but this is done with all the other things in mind.
So next time you are training your dog agility, really look at the session – are you asking too much? Is the environment challenging them? Are we providing them with a good deal compared to what else is on offer naturally?
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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 💙✨️💕.
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!
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 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 😉💕.
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.
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 💪 🧡🖤 🐾
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.
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 😉.