More than One Way

Maplewood Dog

In any activity humans are passionate or invested in you’re going to get strong opinions. Expressions of the way things have, or should, or must be done. Dog agility is no different. Yet many, likely majority, of those expressions are strong opinions, not facts. Except unless you’re well versed in the sport, you may have a challenging time recognizing which are fact and which opinions.

Case in point, “I thought I had to run”

Running on course is one way to do agility. But not the only way.

A close friend of mine, who lives out of state, recently joined a beginner agility class with her dog. And found herself struggling to stay off the floor, since the focus was on handlers running. Which is all well and good if you can safely run, but as a person with mobility disability, running leads to her in a heap on the floor. Flummoxed, she asked me how I’m able to do dog agility?

As the old adage goes “there is more than one way to skin a cat” or do dog agility.

I for one, rarely run on course. Because when I run, increase the likelihood I’ll run into equipment, trip, fall, loose my orientation on course, etc. While sure if I could reliably run my dog would likely be faster on course, but since I can’t that’s not a reality for us. Instead I walk with purpose. And I train distance skills, independent obstacle performance, and introduce my dogs to the concept of moving ahead of me before I introduce the concept of my directing them from in front. I spend a tremendous amount of training time focused on skills that will allow my dog and I to enjoy the sport together, and do well at it (as multiple NATCHes, and winning NADAC Championships will attest), while staying within the bounds of what I (and my dog) can safely do. For me, that means walking with purpose, and minimizing the running I’ll be having to do on the field, while creating a training plan and practice that allows my dog to learn to move at speed even when I’m not.

Dog agility is about relationship, teamwork and trust. And in training, it’s about modifying the environment or approach so the team can be successful. If running works for that team, great! If it doesn’t, that’s great too! We find another way.

“An incurable thing about humans is we are resilient.” – Unknown

 

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