Monday, February 14, 2011

Perspective....and Valentine's Day...

I was talking with a friend the other day, about the difference in teaching people who "just want to have fun in agility" and those that are "competition minded". How many dog schools cater to one or the other...either SUPER competitive, or super laid back with the "just for fun" folks.
The "just for fun" types are the ones I am going to talk about. I have noticed in "pet classes" as they are sometimes called. The dogs are running around, no focus, no contacts, no weaves, just running amok. They are running sequences with no foundation work, they are just going through the motions for the "just for fun" folks...the question is, is that REALLY what these people want?
When Mr. JFF is taking his dog to class, and his dog doesn't do the sequences, but instead, runs around, sniffing and peeing on things...harassing other dogs and people. Do you think Mr. JFF is having fun?
Miss JFF...her dog is crazy...diving off the top of the A-frame, biting her because the dog doesn't know how to weave yet, spinning and frustrated and screaming at Miss JFF having fun?
I started out in agility with Ace, and I was one of those "just for fun" types. We got on equipment, we ran, we had no contacts, weaves were pathetic, you name it. But we were having fun...right? We started trialing, we failed, Ace stressed because my handling was sh*t, I stressed because we were not prepared...But we were having fun...right? Wrong. We moved on, got different training, and then became successful, BOTH Ace and I started having fun.
Even the "just for fun" types need training. The "just for fun" types would probably become competition minded types if they were given tools to succeed in agility. I am not saying everyone wants a running DW or the ability to send to weaves from 50 feet away, but they all need the basics, foundations to get them going.
I have a student, who first came to me, she had been trialing for 2 years. In those 2 years, she had no Q's. NONE. The dog had stress zoomies, the dog had focus issues, she herself had no handling skills to speak of...they were a "just for fun" team. But there was no fun. She was ready to quit agility all together.
How can failure, over and over again be fun? Answer: It can't. Eventually the person will give up. This woman had the patience of Jobe...we started from the ground up, almost retrained EVERYTHING...and now, the dog is very close to her first Agility Championship. The dog that couldn't do more than 2 jumps without going into zoomies, the dog that had no contacts, the dog that had no now close to her Championship. Why? All of her owners hard much hard work. Now...THEY ARE HAVING A BLAST!!!! Wouldn't it have been nice to have SOME foundation to build upon? So they could have been more successful. And had more fun?
I explain this to my new students I get for lessons...that they may not see the utility in one jump work, or think that doing all different WP entries is really useful. They don't care about lateral sends or about collection. Jump grids are boring...but I explain to them that once this stuff is mastered, then they will be amazed how quickly everything comes together. And it does. And they are HAVING FUN.
We can't expect people to develop a love for the game if they are not successful. Sure, let them play around with tunnels, do teeter slam its etc...but, they also have to do the more mundane's part of the entire package.
So to me, teaching both is the same. Or at least it should be. I know in a perfect world it WOULD, but that's not always the case. But doing well is fun, being competitive is fun. Failing over and over again is not fun. I don't care who you are.
But when people talk about the "just for fun" crowd, I wish they would stop looking at them as people who are not serious about agility, and instead, look at them as competition minded, THE SAME. Expect more from them, expect more from their dogs, and you might be surprised how driven they really are :)
Maybe that is why I don't teach classes anymore...Those that can are amazing to me :)
Now...onto warm and fuzzy things :)
How do the Full Tilt Puppies enjoy Valentine's Day? Enjoying the LOVELY weather of course!!
The humans have already celebrate VD this weekend, we hate today is for the pups :)
Day 45: HOLY SH*T WE HAVE LAND!!!! As in grass...SEE!?!?!? GRASS!!!!!! I am gonna bring out my weave poles!!
My pasture still has several feet of snow...but there is GRASS IN THE YARD!!! Jumping up and down!!!! WOO HOO!!!!
The problem with this (well not MY problem) is now...the dogs sink into the snow. Which, for the BC's isn't an issue, but for Crackers...well...

YEAAAHHH...he is not happy...sorry Dude. At least you are not freezing your a** off all the time.

FORTY TWO DEGREES...some dog people will b*tch about the I embrace it! :) So do the dogs... What mud? I can't see any mud... Did you say mud? What's mud? Is that something you encounter off leash? WELL THEN, bring it ON! Thank goodness for smooth coated dogs :) But mud...we are so happy to see you :) I have really missed you, clinging to feet, tails, bellies...

OH, and a new thing...probably sounds simple, but Even can now go on group walks WITH A TOY... See...Even never was able to actually keep a toy during the walks...our only dog that couldn't. Something...ANYTHING would distract her and she would drop the toy. VERY annoying. I kept telling her to get it, Ace would poop and she would get distracted...dropping the toy. I just gave up as it was making the walks very frustrating...and I like my walks happy :) It's all about me ya know! But, at some point between her being in the slammer (what the husband and I call her "injury time") she has figured out how to hold onto her toys :) Yay Steven! Diz ma ball...I smartr now...

We are really proud of her...REALLY PROUD. Like beaming...really...

Oh yeah...back to the mud. Yay for smooth coats! Oh sh*t Klink...
What mud??

The dogs (ok minus Klink who I swear is part hog) are not sure what to do with the dirt/grass/ several of them just try to avoid it :)

And there is NO way any of them will go potty on the ground...they will go out of their way to find a patch of snow (still very prevalent right now) to potty on :) I love watching them panic in the spring, searching for that LAST TINY island of snow to pee on...and praying no one else has gotten to it before they did. Little mind games are funny :)

So here I have 7 muddy dogs...what to do? The lazy person in me wants to limit the amount of bathing or toweling off...they are all dirty and so I figure they can all get snow baths :)

First...make 7 dogs lay down...throw one tennis ball into a snow drift FAR away...send dogs to it. And let them search :) DID YOU FIND IT YET!?!?!!??!!? WHERE IS IT!!!!!!!! This I call the "Pre-soak"...Oh thank doG we found it!!!!

Then...just play fetch :) In the snow... See? Cleaner already!Still this the wash cycle... Now the max extract, to get rid of really bad stains... SPIN CYCLE!!!!!!!!! Gotta get ALL the water off of them! And TA DA!! All done! All clean and all dry (well, kinda)...

In actuality, I am screaming at all of them to get in the damn house and they are all mocking me...but I can call it whatever I want cause it's MY BLOG. SO THERE (sticking out tounge).


D said...

Miss JFF...that was me. The biting was the least fun of all, thank you for helping me with that above all else! I don't miss the need to bring a first aid kit to every class! I am so excited for the nearly agility champ! She has worked so hard and deserves that title!

Snow baths...yeah, that really doesn't work for me.

Anonymous said...

I think the problem with a lot of the "competition" agility classes is the fear tactics. I think too many people get afraid that they'll "ruin" their dog, to the point that they'd rather experience no criteria than any at all. Obviously, there's a happy balance that can be had. I have students of all levels of interest. Regardless of ambitions, the most important thing is that the team is having fun and that is usually best achieved with both parts of the team understanding their job. :-)

Anonymous said...

Interesting post! I do count myself as a JFF type, although although each of my two dogs- the first I've ever trained in agility, has a MACH and one just recently earned his MACH2. Originally, I decided to home train because I had logistics issues with getting to a class. But now, I find myself shying away from "competition" classes because I like to experiement with and find my own ways of handling things. And I don't want someone else creating criteria for me. I had a friend who was "kicked out" of a competition class for not "correcting" a dog who took an obstacle on its own. The student knows what she's doing- her dogs were tops in their breeds. On the other hand, I totally agree with you. Many of the JFF people are given to think that they or their dogs have limitations that would prevent them from achieving greater success. They haven't been taught solid fundamentals, or they've been led to think that their dogs just can't be more successful for one reason or another (it's a rescue, it's this breed or that, etc.)

Taryn said...

When I first started agility classes, I was sure it was JFF. I am a shy person and don't like being up in front of a crowd, so the thought of competing was too scary. Luckily for me, the nearest agility school was a mere 15 minutes away, and has world-class instructors. You had to progress through foundation classes in order to make it to the sequences/courses. That way, you were able to have fun in the more advanced classes, as well as not being a hold-up to the other students. And, as you see your skills improve, competing starts to become alot more interesting and a lot less scary. I still get nervous at trials, but it has zero to do with the crowd ('cause I now know they are NOT watching anyhow! :-)) and has everything to do with wanting to Q/place! I learned that I am competitive!

Loretta Mueller said...

allmycollies--first off welcome :)

KICKED OUT of a class!?!?!? Ok...agility is not THAT important!

Seriously...that is extreme. And I could see where that would cause someone to shy away.

I hope there are not many classes like this. :( I really, really do!

Loretta Mueller said...

Mia--good point...I am not sure where people came up with the "ruin your first dog" statement...but it is something that I feel needs to not be a part of training...sure, we learn with each dog, but I don't think ruining is something that happens to every, single, first dog :)

Loretta Mueller said...

Exactly Taryn...we all start out as JFF...and if it truely is fun, then more people will continue.

Glad you had lots of help on your journey! :)

Dianna--you did all the work! :) I just yelled at you :)

Diana said...

I alway thought people who were JFF didnt trial. Maybe we need a new word to discribe that group. Compitition vs non-compitition. Because lets face it , people who go to trials are there to have fun too! Just because you want to do well and be successful in the ring doesnt mean you dont want to have fun.

Tori Self said...

I get that when both handler and dog understand their job it's going to be more fun for everyone, but failure is a weird concept for me to define. I probably can't name you one run in the past year (or more, but I can't remember that far back anyway ;)) in which I haven't "failed" at something... handling, training hole of some sort for Rev. So technically I too am failing, over and over and over... and often time it's the same thing, so it's not that I'm fixing it with appropriate action. I'm still having fun though.

That's of course different from the dog with the zoomies that's stressing because there is no criteria. Or the dog that is completely shut down out of stress. That's dog training though, and what I've found is a lot of people want to do dog agility without understanding dog training (really, it surprises me how many people can't train their dogs).

Criteria on contacts or weave pole entries though, those again are different from the stressed dog running around the ring to sniff and say hi to everyone. I know plenty of people whose dogs have a very limited understanding of contact criteria, and whose dogs can only make the most basic weave entries. Over time these people usually compensate for such 'flaws' through handling/management on course. And they seem to be having plenty of fun. Now if they want to make a change or ask an instructor for guidance, I think that's great! But if they don't (and provided they aren't publicly complaining about their dog's "limitations" on certain obstacles) that's great too!

Perspective, like you said. Everyone does it different.

Tori Self said...

holy crap I wrote a lot... er, sorry, you caught me at a moment that I REALLY wanted to procrastinate hehe ;)

Loretta Mueller said...

LMAO! Chatty Tori :)

I understand what you are getting at, failure is different to everyone for sure. And compensation is part of life.

And you did hit the nail on the head with your statement about people wanting to train dogs without KNOWING how to train dogs. So very very true...