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Defining fun

As you know, I train and compete in agility.

Newbies and people who are struggling are often told to get out there and ‘have fun’. I can tell you that trying to remember where a course goes, get yourself around it and direct your dog in a timely way is often difficult and you're not necessarily out there thinking it's fun!

So I think we need to be thinking more about this in our training, then taking it to competition. What are we trying to achieve? What does fun look like?

My aim is to get more consistent performances from myself and my dogs. I don’t line up hoping to win or place or even get a clear round. Other teams who perform more quickly and/ or accurately on the course will beat us. It’s out of our control. As for clear rounds – the dogs will go out and do what I have trained/ handled them to do. Holes will show and in the moment, errors will be made.

We’re all living beings, not robots.

At the show last weekend I saw gaps in the performances of both my dogs. Some came from handling errors and some from training errors. I did the best I could at the time, but made mistakes. I firmly believe my dogs did the best they could at the time but also made mistakes.

Did I have fun?

In a high mood, laughing kind of way – no. In a focused, learning kind of way – absolutely.

The dogs both did a lot right and I could totally see where the errors came from (my training/ handling), so I can go away and work on them.

Did the dogs have fun?

Not always. Spice is new to the ring and at times was clearly a bit concerned and confused. She stopped to inspect the numbers by the jumps in the first class and both dogs had a few wayward moments where they clearly didn’t know what to do next.

Is that okay or do we always expect them to be having a wonderful time (upbeat fun)?

They lined up with me, ran the courses fairly quickly, did their best to follow instructions and accepted their rewards at the end with apparent enthusiasm.

Does that mean that overall they had some sort of ‘fun’?

I hope so.

This article was first published on November 28, 2019 


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