Put the gas in your dog’s engine BEFORE you start. If you need to get more enthusiasm, focus and speed out of your dog on the course, the time to “juice ’em up” is before the start line, not after. If your dog starts lethargically or unfocused, no amount of cheerleading on the course is really going to change your dogs attitude. It is like forgetting to fill up the tank in your car, and remembering AFTER you get onto the highway. Practice taking no more than 20 seconds to charge up your dog before you run. If you tease them with cookies and try to play with them for too long before you run, you may actually get your dog to “peak” before his run, not during. Create a fun teasing game, produce a favorite toy, or get them to do a silly trick that makes them wild just before your run, then keep them attentive, and get into the ring quickly!
Avoid training lethargy. What happens when month after month, or year after year you are not really seeing improvement in your performance, or worse, your dog continues to get less motivated over time. Donâ€™t get stuck in a routine of boring practices, and mediocre shows, without seeing measurable improvements. Give yourself an “agility check-up”. Time your dogs performance on the contacts & weaves. See how long it really takes your dog to take a position on the table. Set up a straight line of 4 jumps 20 feet apart, and time the run. Is it faster when you run or do a recall down the line. Video your class and home practices as well as competition. Be critical of where you could really improve your performance and set new goals for improvement. Do your checkup a couple times a year, and record your improvements.
Agility is made up of three elements Recall, Run, Send.
When any one of these parts are missing or break down you have a problem.
The Recall: Does your dog start slow when you lead out, or crash bars? Break his stays? Are you missing technical handling skills that aid you when the first part of the course is really ugly.
The Run: does your dog make wide turns when you run together, turn back and look at you and knock bars, bark at you when you are wrong, or run at the same speed you run, and never try to exceed your speed and pass you by?
The Send: Can you send your dog out on his own to a tunnel or jump, send him ahead down a straightaway, get a fast finish without a turn back at the last obstacle?
Decide where your performances are breaking down, and work on the three elements separately. It is the sum of the whole that makes for a perfect performance. Work on the parts until they are elementary to your performance.
Clean Run Calendar 2003
Reprinted with permission of Clean Run Productions.