Huge question – way beyond the scope of this little blog. Here is a little dog to look at while I think about what I mean,
Let me try again
Why do we lie to ourselves about our dogs and our training?
I hear the lies pretty frequently
My dog isn’t fat (or thin)
My dog is fit
My dog is happy
My dog isn’t stressed
My dog is friendly – that’s why they look out of control
My dog isn’t in pain
My dog doesn’t mind the kids lying on her
whatever – the impact on me is always the same
Is it our human spirit that makes us believe the best about the things we love?
Do we hate to admit to weakness so we just don’t?
The one currently making me reflect on this is concept is the notion that a dog bolting around a ring out of control is happy, having fun and wants to be doing those behaviours. Seriously. I don’t get it.
Not at all. Sally was wild as a young dog at trials and what information I took from that was she didn’t have enough information to be trialing. I tested it occasionally and even qed here and there – but our tests were few and far between and I never left the ring after a 50 fault (or more) run thinking “well at least she had fun”. Adding an obstacle or two or hitting the wrong end of a tunnel is NOT what I am referring to. What I mean are those runs where the dog opts out. Only occasionally, and by mistake it seems, do elements of the requisite course happen.
If your dog is stressed, unhappy running a full course, leaving you often on course, (or the flip side- walking a course at snail speed) please be honest with yourself. Lie all you want to anybody else but in your heart accept that your dog is expressing stress in a keyed up over threshold way that works for them. Develop a plan to work on it. Test your plan but stop with the glittery excuses and understand that this too,with the right help and approach, will pass.
Honesty really is the best policy.
Such great points! I took Oreo out of agility completely because I couldn't watch him stress anymore(took me waaaaay too long to do that though, and I feel horrible about that). I'm not trialing Chewy anymore, because I noticed he was starting to stress. Plus, watching so many other dogs stress in the ring is simply heartbreaking. So, we just attend class now, and we're both so much happier.
aww and there are ways to work or play through that stress if you want to – but kudos to you for seeing it happen and being proactive Sara <3
Thank you for writing this! I have been told that I am crazy for not trialing my young dog more. But I saw the signs on the wall – he was not happy & having fun when he was zooming around the ring, running into laps & jumping on the judge. He was stressed out. I could see it in his eyes, I could feel it in the leash. We have taken some long breaks, just waiting for him to grow up.
He may have looked like the happiest guy ever out there… but I was honest & did not lie to myself. Thank you for affirming that I made the right choice!