Agility is fun and addictive, and it is a way of living for many people. I was just looking back to some videos from a few years ago and it is just amazing how fast the sport has developed, both speed and technique wise.
The goal is to perform at our best level - winning is just a bonus
With our training we all have different goals and dreams, and most of us also get inspired and influenced by social media. I have always been very thoughtful about not letting people around me, together with their expectations or judgements, affect me, my training or my relationship with my dogs in a bad way. For example, I always try to stay away from most social media discussions.
I have high goals for myself and I’m never pleased with half assed performances. Good results are fun and nice, but the performance itself is much more important. Teamwork and the ability to perform at my own and my dog’s highest level is my actual goal. If we perform at our best and we manage to put all the training together in a run, my goal is reached. If that also results in winning, that’s of course extra fun, but it’s actually just a bonus.
The joy - the most important aspect of agility
I have also always made sure that my training is a joy for me and my dogs. This joy, when training or trialing with my dogs, is most important for me in agility, much more important than winning trials.
I see my dogs as my best pals and we trust each other in every way. We train together, we hang out together and we give everything we have in both training and trials. And the aspect of hanging out together is absolutely the most important thing. Taking long walks, swimming, looking for rare plants and insects, picking mushrooms, snuggling, visiting friends etc. are all things that are much more substantial than agility training and trials for me.
After a lot of work with a “harder dog” the feeling of improving is very satisfying
And if we go back to agility training; during my 22 years in the sport, I have had dogs with a “bad” structure or that have been mentally more sensitive etc. But there is a joy in seeing those dogs perform at their best and achieving goals together with each of them.
When I talk about goals I don’t necessarily mean results but the performance and the feeling of a run. After a lot of work with a “harder dog”, the feeling of improving is very satisfying, and you can really feel the joy and happiness between you and the dog. Those achievements are sometimes things to be prouder of than actual results.
Every dog has its challenges, weaknesses and strengths
We have also been told that some of our girls, Lilli and Azta, are too small for being competitive in agility. Ok, on some courses it might be hard to keep up with a bigger dog with long legs. But again, it is not all about results, but about the performance itself. So, we don’t care too much if people think they are too small. They are the size they are, and we can’t do anything about it but try to optimize each run. And on the other hand, it is very handy to travel with our small girls!
I have one dog, Ogin, that has never really been the fastest dog on the planet. But he just loves to work, and he always gives 100% whatever he’s doing. Even though he has never been super-fast, he is so excited to work, and his engagement gives so much joy in both training and trials. He is the first to stand in for injured and tired seminar dogs when I teach, and he doesn't hesitate for a second to join. I think that is actually what he loves the most and I just love to watch him work with other people. And he is the one that also loves to entertain people with all the tricks he knows.
I have another dog, Zaa, that has never competed, because he got injured when he was young. He is now 10 years old and he has been able to train on low heights his whole life, but I never wanted him to have to jump full height or do the A-frame. And I never wanted to feel he needed to train because of trials, but just train for fun as much as he could handle. He is my best pal and I just love hanging out with him and I enjoy having him in my life so much, despite the lack of competition results. The joy in training is just amazing with him. He is so happy when he gets to train and that in turn makes me very happy. So, we have our own goals in training and the satisfaction when we have perfect understanding between each other is as big as winning trials with the other dogs.
One of my dogs, Ziv, has been sensitive and very thoughtful in training. She also has some kind of breathing problem and can only train short sessions and I need to cool her down before and in between training and trial runs. Training has been challenging and frustrating sometimes but on the other hand it is a big satisfaction for every step we have taken forward and for every time I feel like she is growing mentally and physically. I love to see her getting more and more brave and relaxed in both training and trials. It makes me so happy! She is the dog that is always close to me in everyday life and I just love to have her by my side.
So far, all seven of my own or Nettan’s dogs, (except Zaa, the one who was injured at a young age) have achieved medals and spots on the Swedish national team with more or less effort. All of them have required work, but they have all had different needs. With this said, every dog has its challenges, weaknesses and strengths and the journey together is always much more important than any agility results in the world. Having my dogs as my best friends, hanging out with them and loving them 110% is priority number ONE for me.
Use AgiNotes to help you celebrate small wins
One of the reasons AgiNotes exists is that it helps you concentrate on your dog’s individual needs. Every dog has his/her challenges as well as strengths, and you need to grow together, build a strong bond and learn how to celebrate small wins. This way you will take steps towards the best version of you two as a team.