When will my dog be ready to compete? When will I be as good as Big Name Handler? When will I be done?
Rather than answering all these questions, I have a few questions of my own….When did we become so obsessed with being done? What about the goals? And the fun of getting there?
I agree, it is funny that those are my questions, my response to the rush everyone feels when pursuing agility, considering I, myself, harbor some large goals. But perhaps that is the reason why I have finally found those questions as my answer. Let me explain:
Ever since I made my first Finals with my first agility dog, Crash, I have been putting an insane amount of pressure on myself and my subsequent dogs to get back to Finals. And that wasn’t even the tip of the iceberg…I wanted much, much more. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still hold on to those same goals. I can proudly state that I made ALL THREE Finals in the 2013 USDAA Cynosport World Games. I took the Silver Medal in BOTH USDAA Performance Grand Prix and Performance Speed Jumping at the 2013 USDAA Southwestern Regional. I took the Gold Medal in BOTH USDAA Performance Grand Prix and Performance Speed Jumping at the 2013 USDAA Western Regional. And I even went to my first AKC International Team Tryouts in May 2014. So, if my goals didn’t change, what did?
Basically, I realized that it wasn’t my large goals that were hurting my progress, but rather my obsessive feeling that I was on a time-line. I needed to be done. I wanted to “be there” already. My rush to finish not only hurt my learning curve, but my dogs. How can that be? When you are in a rush, you are not actually the student or the trainer you should be. You do not absorb information from seminars as well. You are seeking out the quick-fix, and oftentimes miss the steps the trainer gives you to better achieve the final results. You skip steps with your dog. You continually do the “he did it once” method of training, where you assume the dog has it after just a couple (or fewer) good attempts in practice. Ultimately, you run yourself into a brick wall of frustration, and your dog becomes confused, slower, and demotivated.
Take the time to play, learn, and enjoy. Notice the little steps. Don’t be afraid to be wrong, or not have all the answers. After-all, you will never have all the answers. If you think you do, I can assure you, there is a lot you are missing out on.
After you take the time to re-organize your goals with learning in mind instead of an expiration date you will notice your progress comes back. So, with only a few weeks left of December, you have the perfect opportunity to re-prioritize and get back on track for 2015. Good luck, and have fun learning!
For more blog posts on this topic, visit: Dog Agility Blog Events – Continuing Education