The Love of Agility
I have always felt pulled toward the sport of agility. The excitement, the speed, the need to be connected in motion- I really feel that it offers a thrill and challenge that is unique to agility.
Agility demands a type of teamwork that really challenges both handlers and their dogs. As handlers, we are forced to pay attention to and respond to all of the nuances of dog training- criteria, rewards, pressure, speed, motion, timing. Additionally, we have to be able to adjust each of these areas based on the dog we're working with. These skills allow our dogs to meet the challenging of learning independent behaviours, verbal cues, predict lines, and trust in us as handlers.
I believe that training in agility makes us not only better at the sport itself, but also better at dog training and dog ownership in general. The teamwork we build and the communication we finesse with our dogs in agility can enrich our everyday lives with our beloved companions.
Why I Do What I Do
It’s always been worth it, but it hasn’t always been easy. In fact, my career has been centred around challenging dogs- dogs that have been reactive, fearful/timid, over-aroused, and easily distracted. You can learn more about my dogs here and how they have shaped my training philosophy and approach.
I have learned just as much, if not more than, what my animals have learned from me. Sure, I have competed with multiple dogs in agility competitions on the world stage. But that’s probably one of my smaller accomplishments. One of my biggest accomplishments has been learning how to listen when my dogs speak- to let their behaviour and responses shape my training approach- instead of sticking to “the plan”. And this is why I am so passionate about being a coach- I want to bring that level of understanding to all my students so that they can have the type of relationship I enjoy with my animals.
How the Agile Approach Can Help You
I want to encourage agility handlers to throw away their preconceptions about the “right handling system” or worrying about what everyone else is doing. I also want to help handlers get rid of the pressure they put on themselves and their dog to run or work together in a certain way.
The right approach will always be what works best for your dog to help them be the best version of themselves, not to make them more like the dog you think they should be. Once you put in the time learning about your dog and developing your teamwork- and worry about fancy handling much later- the pieces start to come together on their own. That’s why I developed the Agile Approach training philosophy, to help students re-frame how they approach developing their agility dog.