A Positive Strategy

Jul 5, 2021

dogs agility jump

Success on the agility course means starting right at the beginning, allowing dogs the time they need to acclimatize to the training environment © Can Stock Photo / 3quarks

As I set up my dog on the start line of an agility course, I want her to feel excited and exhilarated. At the same time, I also want her to feel relaxed within the environment and completely engaged with me, focused on my communication and maintaining our connection throughout this adventure together.

In human psychology we talk about ‘flow’ as being ‘in the zone,’ i.e. giving the task at hand our full attention, oblivious to whatever else is happening.

Flow is also what we want to achieve with our sports dogs and what effective training sets out to nurture. As an agility instructor, I believe that an understanding of dog behavior can help us do just that.

Aiming for success means starting right at the beginning, allowing dogs the time they need to acclimatize to the training environment. Feeling safe is vital for dogs’ well-being, so it’s unfair to expect them to perform if we haven’t first given them the chance to learn what they need about the environment to feel secure within it – whether it be a new training space or a showground.

These have much potential to overload the senses and overwhelm any dog, not to mention intimidate their guardian.

(Issue 48, May 2021, pp.14-20). Read article