Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Don't Be An Ass :)

Dog Agility Blog Action Day!!!!--ATTITUDE!!!!

What comes up when I hear the word attitude...

Attitude of people towards agility
Attitude of people about competition
Attitude of people about different training/handling styles
Attitude of people being positive OR negative...

Sure...I could talk about how attitude of ALL of us should improve, we should all never get upset, bothered, etc etc. That agility is a game and all that stuff...and I hope others DO touch on that...

My opinion on that is: Just don't be an ass...to others, to your dog, to the sport, whatever.  :-) TA DA!!

BUT...I am going to focus on the area of Attitude I can CONTROL...my dogs attitude and my attitude about my dog. Totally different things, but combined make for a pretty amazing team :)

And I am sure I will ramble off and on about other random stuff...I have ADHD...sorry in advance :)

The Dog:

To me this is the most important. Dog must like agility. Dog must like running. Dog must like playing WITH ME (not food, not toys, ME--as that's all they have in agility is me).

How do I get that?
  • Teach, Proof and PROOF some more---all concepts. Find holes, SEARCH FOR THEM. And fix them. 
  • Take your dog to new places to train--VERY IMPORTANT.
  • BE POSITIVE
  • BE CLEAR
  • BE FAIR
  • Reward too much rather than too little
  • Don't train if you are in a poor mood
  • Go into training with the mindset of showing the dog what you want...HELP them.
  • Put effort into training--5 minute rule...if I am building drive in a dog and I am not EXHAUSTED after 5 minutes, I am NOT putting forth enough effort.
  • If your dog knows he is wrong, how does he know this? Your reaction. Body language, words, sigh, you name it. Be aware of those things when training.
  • When starting out with a baby dog (Lynn is 3 legs away from her ADCH and is VERY MUCH still a baby!!!!)...give them a break. Encourage the right, ignore the wrong...just make it fun for them!
  • PERFECTION TAKES TIME...that's all you have on this journey with your dog...enjoy that time!!
It's a fine line to walk...what to let go, what to worry about...but ultimately you know your dog. If you feel you don't know your dog:

OBSERVE--OBSERVE--and OBSERVE SOME MORE!!!

Now...OUR attitudes...
  • Pick a small number of people who's opinions matter to you, who you respect and want to be more like. Ignore the rest. This has helped ME TREMENDOUSLY!!!! Sometimes people just say mean crap...it's their own issue. Not yours. The group of people you want to hear from wouldn't do that. So just stick with them :)
  • Don't make excuses...your dog failed. Failure is FEEDBACK. Nothing more, nothing less. Use it!
  • The dog does something, SOMEHOW it goes back to you...whether through lack of understanding...lack of training, confusion, mishandling etc. It all goes back to you. Own it. Don't blame the dog. (yes there are some dogs that truly can be pills. I will say THIS. Out of all 7 of my dogs. Only ONE of them can be a pill. She is pulled when she doesn't do her job. ONE out of 7. And she only does one thing wrong that will get her pulled...so if you are pulling all your dogs, all the time, or are angry at your dogs...there is one common variable...you. All my dogs bark at me while we run agility...its ME. I know it :) It's OK. This one took me a long time to really believe and grasp...
  • Sometimes dogs just slip, knock a bar, miss a WP entry---get over these things. Don't let a bar down at 2 affect something at 15.
  • Don't linger on issues. Train and then let it go.
  • Run the courses like you KNOW YOU CAN. If you don't Q. No worries. Your dog doesn't care ;-)
  • Sometimes it's just not your day.
  • Sometimes your dog is having a bad day...they are not machines.
  • MENTAL MANAGEMENT IS SOOOO VERY IMPORTANT. Take a class, read a book. WORK THE PROGRAMS. 
  • Take time after your run, to take your dog on a walk...for a few minutes. Just to appreciate what you have at the end of the leash.
  • Enjoy each dog for what they are. They accept you for what you are. Extend them the same respect.
We had a judge once say in a briefing "Be nice to your dogs, no one remembers who won Grand Prix Finals last year...but everyone remembers who was an ass to their dog."

Hmmmm...the word ass keeps coming up?
I remember the first time I got in the finals at USDAA Nationals--some of the people that I knew well ignored me...LITERALLY ignored me when they found out I got in. I had two good friends that congratulated me...people out of my trialing area did as well. But people I trialed with many weekends every year...said NOTHING. It was tough...it was sad. Made me feel embarrassed to be in the finals. I was standing outside the finals ring...just unable to understand how people could be like that? Then...a woman came up to me and gave me some amazing words of encouragement "You got here, you belong here, go run your dog and enjoy your moment."  That woman to this day I respect and admire her...and she's right. If it's a local, one ring trial, if it's the World Championships...we ALL belong there. We all have the right to run our dogs and enjoy those moments. I am no longer feel embarrassed. It just takes one moment of kindness...ONE.

So...to recap...love your dog, chill out a bit, and don't be an ass. Simple, straight forward. Granted...it wouldn't be a very long blog post...but still :)

10 comments:

Diana said...

I sooo agree!!! I just dont understand all the mean people out there. What the heck is wrong with them?? We all feel the green eyed monster creep in sometimes but we are adults and should be able to recognize that is whats happening. Then own it and move on. Then be happy for others and you will be happy yourself.

Lisa G said...

Agreed pay it forward be NICE......

Weather my dog is a Rockstar or sucks I still love him on the way home just as much I did on the way to the trial....And darn glad hes my partner Boomer rocks everyday!!!

Taryn said...

Wonderful post! Thank you!

I never feel jealous of someone else's success. It takes the perfect combo of training/bonding/innate skills to reach the top levels. I have to be honest with myself, and acknowledge that I personally don't put in the level of effort required to attain top level honors. So how in the world can I be resentful of someone who does. I am happy for them!

vici whisner said...

Perfect. Simple words to live by.

Amis said...

Kick ASS post lady! Well done!

agilityfrk said...

I want a "Don't be an ass." shirt!

SYSTEM!!!!!!!!!!!

Tori Self said...

Yeah, that's too cute not to respond with also -- kick ASS post! ;) Love it.

Kathy said...

LOVE IT! Fantastic post and it really does come down to Don't be an ass. :-) and don't worry about those who choose to be one!

Steve said...

Loretta - so much good advice packed into one post! I think the corollary to "Don't be an Ass" is "Shit Happens". Those people who get all freaked by a bar coming down or a missed weave entry/contact; sometimes it just happens - let it go and move on...

I always love watching you run your dogs - you and Andy are a blast.

Kelly Ely said...

I do want that! so really appreciated the "How do I get that section!" Thanks for laying it out there.