Molly, I enrolled my 5 year old springer spaniel/miniature poodle cross at the local agility hotspot in Toronto. We've done 5 weeks now and I think she's clueing in to the fact that it's a place we go to work, and more importantly, get treats. After all every dog loves a job and Chindi sure likes the pay. I was thinking about the class as I walked out with another dog owner and her greyhound. Our dogs were as different as could be, the greyhound sleek, mottled brown, built for speed whereas Chindi white and fluffy with Snoopy inspired black patches, is very muscular and a wizz at endurance. She's 25 lbs and has run as far as 29 k with us - pound for pound, or pound for kilometre, she's an ultramarathoner. The webbed feet and her amazing stroke make her a master swimmer as well. If we could just get her a bike that fits...
The thing was, Chindi excelled at everything the greyhound didn't, and, you probably also figured out that the greyhound rocked the stuff Chindi just couldn't get. I think you know where I"m going but here goes.
Top 5 things we can learn from dogs at agility.
1. Give yourself an out. The instructors keep emphasizing that this is for fun, if your dog balks at running up the ramp or jumping on the table, that's fine. Just keep up the energy and try again, it will happen. And when it does, there is no such thing as too much praise.
2. We should try scary things because they can be fun. Chindi was not going to go through the barrel last night but then she did and it became her favourite of all time.
3. Just because we are not so good at something the first time doesn't mean we can't teach ourselves to do it. It just might take a little more time and practice. Break it down and reward youself for baby steps. Chindi can't do four weave poles right now but she can do one and sometimes two and she gets just as much praise on the one as she's going to get on the four.
4. Little dogs get different sized equipment than big dogs. Big dogs aren't better or worse than little dogs, they're just a different size.
5. There is nothing wrong with doing things for treats. Just don't let anyone give you the cookies that give you gas.
And yes, that's Chindi leaping from a diving board up north. Fearless and having the time of her life.
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