Ole started his agility career 9 years ago with 2-year-old cairn terrier Bonsak, and although he challenged Ole in many ways, e.g. by spending the first month in a new training hall just sniffing the ground, they won the prize for best beginner in Norway and they participated twice in the Nationals. “He was a real stubborn one, but I guess I was more stubborn”, Ole says. Now Ole is a full time agility coach and he competes with his pyrenean shepherd Evo, with whom he’s already been to EO and twice in WAO, in which he actually won gold in the Games 2018! Evo has challenged Ole in totally different ways than Bonsak; being scared of different things such as the wind.
Restricted training time required systematic planning
So, Ole has had two totally different dogs, but he’s succeeded very well with both of them. Why? “I’ve been very systematic right from the beginning. When I started to train agility, I got to train only once a week. I had to have a plan so I could get the most out of the little time I had. I didn’t have a driver’s license and I had an hour’s journey to the training place. My dad always drove me and I sat and wrote all the way home. As I didn’t have the opportunity to train as much as many other people, each repetition had to be of a high quality, and I think planning plays an important role in getting quality before quantity. I also filmed our training a lot in the beginning to see what I was doing wrong and what I could do better.”
Systematic training has proved so beneficial that Ole has continued with it even now that he has his driving licence and the possibility to train as much as he wants: “I start every week by planning my training. I use the training list function on AgiNotes app to choose a theme for each week. Often I choose two, but no more, so that I can really concentrate on them. If it’s something we’ve trained before, I then check what we did last time. Take for example “in hand” and layering: I first train both skills quite slowly and reward at different stages. Then I build the themes into courses.”
“When training day arrives, I plan in more detail. I really plan every repetition. The two main reasons for this are to get the progress I want and to keep my training sessions fast and fun. After each training session, I write some notes, so that next time I remember what we did and how it went.
Systematic training leads to progress - progress leads to motivation
Ole thinks that it’s essential to plan your training on a daily basis if you want to reach your long term goals. “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
“I also think it makes training much more fun and easier to stay motivated, if you see your progress from one week to another. It makes no difference whether your goal is to be the world champion or to have fun with your dog. I’ve met too many people who’ve given up the sport because they don’t progress. Whatever your goal is, progress is motivation.”
So, by adding systematicity to your agility training, you get progress and more motivation. This is positive on so many levels, so why doesn’t everyone do this? “Many people think it’s too much work and therefore they just skip it. However, if you take 10 minutes off your training time and, instead, use 5 minutes for preparations and 5 minutes for analysis after, I think you will get results.
Ole says he sees people who did agility when he started and who are still at the same level now as they were then. “Of course they now have new dogs, but the same problems keep coming up. One of the big benefits of systematic training is that you also see if you don’t make progress. This is important, because then you really need to change something.”
How to get started with more systematic agility training?
Ole gives great tips for those who want to get more systematic with their agility training:
First of all, I would set some goals, I think it is important to have something to work towards. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a big goal. Instead it could be e.g.: “I want to start my first competition in 2019” or “I want my dog to know all the contacts in 2019”.
After setting the goal, make a little plan. It doesn’t need to take more than maybe 30 minutes. You have to find out what skills you need to reach the goal and what skills you already have. Then you are left with the skills you are currently lacking in and those are what you need to work with.
Start to film your training and use 10 minutes of your training time for the plan and the analysis.
“I think these small things will make you much better”.
Use AgiNotes to make your training more systematic
AgiNotes is an app designed to make dog agility training more systematic and tracking your development easy. By doing so, it helps you focus on the right things - and succeed.