Wednesday, June 4, 2014

DABAD: One Small Success for Dog, One Giant Success for Team

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.
I chose not to give up on this dog.  He is what he is, and things will come when he's ready.  Boo has had great PGP runs... until he ran off to take his favorite obstacle (A-Frame).  Here were our successes:
  • 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!)
Heck, he even got a teeter gamble at the same trial!

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:


Newbie and the Murr said...

Go PDCH Boo! I agree - having a sometimes fearful dog (Murray, the little mutt you've met 'round these parts) - I can't measure success by the same yardstick as the fastest papillon with the most experienced competitor. But a set of bouncy weaves, an enthusiastic teeter, or a table down (yes a table down!) - and it's party central! Thanks for a great blog post and for bragging about the Boo!

AgilityEngineer said...

My best advice is to do what's best for your dog and NEVER let anyone get you down.

I had multiple people tell me that I would "Never" accomplish things with Scout... from being told she should never be off leash, to never getting SuperQs, being the smallest dog in a class of big dogs.

Nancy and Stewie JRT said...

Good for you! There is always something to celebrate in every run!