Getting Ready for an Agility Trial
With my last Agility Trial of the season vastly approaching I thought I would share with you on what is involved in such a team event.Lets start off with the training. Now that is a subject worth discussing. Those that trial in Agility know that we spend more time in training then anything else.It takes a long time to get an good solid agility team together I mean lets face it you have to learn as well as your dog as agility truly is a team sport.
Most handlers spend a fortune in workshops clinics and fun runs why because this is where the meat and potatoes lies. This teaches us foundation which is so important to this sport with out this you and your pooch have not a clue to what is going on in the ring and to a dog all those Obstacles can be a scary thing so I am a true believer in foundation.
Starting a dog in agility is not just taking classes it starts in behaviors. Teaching your dog a release word. Recall coming to you at all sides and directions and most important playing with you and having fun.Your dog should want to be with you and if you are boring they will find other things of interest. Having a breed such as I have Standard Poodles I learn very fast that I better make it fun or they found their toys more interesting then me and could entertain themselves for hours without me.So the importance of game playing and basic behaviors has been a must for me and my boys.I remember my first time at my trainer home 3 years ago It was our first session and Thomas was a Pup only 2 years of age and full of himself. I set him up to the first Jump and released him and he was gone!! Over the jump and off her ran. My trainer had to go after him in the golf cart and thus started our true training in agility.
Thomas was pulled off all equipment and yes let the games Begin. For a solid year Thomas & learned how to play, recall,release word holding his stays and lead outs. I use to pray that each session Thomas would stay with me it took many years and now I have a good solid dog.
Expense!! Wow, That is all I can say, Agility is expensive.But what sport isn't. I have to budget epically now but it works for me. Some handlers have the life they have there RVs and campers you name it they got it but we do just fine in my mini van and easy up tent. I have a major problem in shoes one would ask, What does she mean? Yes shoes are a major problem I have big flat wide feet and I cannot find a shoe that supports me so after a 3 day trial I'm lucky if I can walk. Usually I have bruised feet due to this and have been know to take off my shoes to run my last class.
Most of the time you trial to see where you are in your agility career. Then go home and work on the week points. Many of times I have gone home empty handed meaning no Qualifying scores and left with many of comments of Loose Poodle or we love to watch Thomas run so we can learn what not to do with our dogs. Yes I have herd it all but that was a time when we were first learning. Most people would of given up on Thomas and got another dog most likely not a poodle but not me I was determine to work with Thomas to accomplish our goal and looks like we are well on our way.Having Thomas taught me humility and patience and it has Been well worth it.
I have been asked what do you get out of Agility? usually my answer is great accomplishment and a sense of team work with myself and my dogs. Both of my boys are so different Evan is smooth and does not hurry he is calm and almost thinks things out where Thomas is like a Faerie going a 100 miles per hour down a bumpy road.Both are different and both are a joy to run.
In some venue you can earn money but I leave that to the Big professional handlers for me my little weekend 3 day trial are enough. You do earn titles and can achieve a championship level but it takes hard work and time and what better way to spend time is with your dog.
My goals are simple to have fun learn enjoy what I am doing and achieved my championship simple and clean or what I call Honest!
So know you have read what it take to get ready and have a agility dog and what you need to do for a trial but most important is to have fun with you team mate. I was asked not to long ago if I ever won the Lotto what I would most want and my answer was " A pair of good agility shoes that fit so I can run my dogs"
Lydia Thomas & Evan