Over the many years I’ve been living with and training my dogs for the sport of agility, I’ve learned by experience and from instructors the concept conveyed by legendary coach John Wooden…”It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
Whether you call it “foundation” skills or “the basics”, the little things in agility and everyday life not only determine success in the sport but influence our relationship with our dogs. Some people think foundation skills are just something to “get through” so they can go onto more exciting things. Or through inexperience simply don’t know what to work on! That is understandable and expected.
I’m going to say it…agility is hard! And as the sport grows and changes, and dogs get faster, it seems like the list of highly honed skills required to do agility is ever growing. Fortunately, leaders in our sport are exploring new and better training methods so it never gets boring! And I will add, each dog is an individual and while one dog learns a skill easily and for life, another challenges us our skills at teaching one or more of those little things.
Personally, I find embracing the little things a lot of fun! The bonus is that it builds a positive relationship with my dogs because they know when I find joy in that perfect toy retrieve or that perfect one jump performance or super long lead out in class. My joy builds their confidence and love of the game. Ignoring the little things and expecting success without them can lead to frustration, blaming the dog or simply quitting.
Coming up in a series of blog posts, I’m going to explore some of these “little things”. I plan on organizing the topics in roughly the order that I introduce them to my puppies. But there won’t be a single “little thing” that isn’t revisited as the puppy matures into a young dog, a competition dog and a champion. My goal is to give you some new ideas to chew on and to inspire you to find the joy and satisfaction in teaching the little things well and to keep coming back to them. Stay tuned and if you like, subscribe to this blog to be notified of each post by email.
List of Posts:
The Release Word – the first step toward impulse control