Success doesn't have to mean winning it all. It doesn't have to mean standing on the podium. I measure success based upon overcoming struggles I have in training my dogs. Big success comes from accomplishing small successes.
When Scout was nearing the end of her career, I ran her in a few Veteran's classes. The dogwalk was the next to last obstacle. She blew the contact. Someone came RIGHT up to me after the run and snapped, "It WAS a nice run until the dogwalk."
I retorted, "She's 12 and a half years old, she can do whatever she wants."
My version of success: My dog can still play with me enthusiastically. Scout earned her PDCH-Platinum, VVD, and LAA-Gold. One missed dogwalk contact is nothing.
Boo, the little white scruffy dog, has been a challenge in training. He did not enjoy a group class format - he'd return to his crate for his turn, so he was primarily trained in my backyard. He does well at private lessons. He has been a struggle from Day One:
- Boo is fearful. It's a big world for a little dude. I had people give him treats at trials to overcome his fear of strangers.
- Boo is terrified of the teeter.
- Boo is selective about how fast he will run and when.
- Boo is distracted. He sees lots of shiny things. And then visits them.
- Boo is a clown... he wallows in the grass as his start line. I sometimes abandon the lead out to bring him back to this planet.
- Boo likes to down on the table, then poke his butt up in the air, wag his tail, and laugh at me.
- He ran full-speed.
- He made course time even with the off course.
- He bounced the weaves.
- He performed the teeter with confidence.
- He stayed with me (except for the A-Frame... it was shiny!)
Boo loves Snooker. Boo doesn't do well in Standard and Gamblers. Naturally, I was tickled when he started getting a few Standard Qs. Then a few Gamblers Qs. Next thing you know, it's PDCH Boo!
When my students finish a run, I never talk about what needs improvement - for the most part, they are already aware of that. I talk about what went right, especially if the team has been struggling on a particular move, sequence or obstacle. Eventually, more and more things will go right, and each student will have a BIG success.
Start measuring small successes. It will build your confidence. Larger successes will naturally fall in place.
This blog entry is part of the Dog Agility Blog Action Day: Success! Read more here: http://dogagilityblogevents.wordpress.com/success/