I think we all have days, training our dogs, where we stop and question if we’re really moving forward. You see dogs that seem to be ‘perfect’ from a young age, you see handlers that just seem to be able to handle so consistently that their dogs always know where to go, you see trainers who seem to know the answer to every problem. But what you also have to remember, is that people can be selective. A trainer or a handler can choose to post only their best runs and training sessions. They could have spent hours behind a textbook studying in order to answer a question.
I am the worst person for forgetting that. I end up taking it to heart when we have a rubbish training session. Particularly if other people with dogs of the same age seem to be doing much better. But you know what? Everyone has a crappy session from time to time? Yes, some do more than others, but they do happen. Every dog-handler partnership will have weaknesses and skills that they need to work on. Some may be on the agility circuit itself, whilst others may just be day-to-day things that you would never know about.
Sometimes it is a case of just stepping back, calming down, putting it into perspective, and trying again. I have often found that right when I feel Maisie and I are at last in sync, we will have a rubbish session again. And yeah, it gets me down. But the reality is that it’s just one of those things. There are so many variables that could have affected how that training session went. But don’t dwell on those days. Yes, of course, if you have something that you are struggling with, don’t shy away from it. Don’t decide to not train the behaviour or the skill. Don’t only practice what you’re good at, but practice too, what you’re not so good at. Get the right balance. After all, if you never train on your weaknesses, they will never stop being weaknesses, which becomes a vicious cycle.
Other times, it takes someone to just put it back into the real world for you. To realise that the only reason we do agility is to have fun with our dogs. I know there are other reasons and motivations, but the bottom line is that we do it with our pets, our companions. The moment it becomes stressful or unenjoyable, take a step back and assess. Don’t set yourself up to fail. Easier said than done, I know. Been there, done that, and still doing that!