Chester & Rodney – The Bigger The Mistake

The bigger the mistake, the bigger the smile.  These are words to live by, especially when you’re participating in performance events with your dog.  I know I’ve written about this before, but I don’t think it can hurt to say it again and again.  When competing with your dog in performance events, it is imperative you stay positive.  Again, this weekend, I witnessed a team running at an agility trial.  The dog was trying really hard to do exactly what the handler was asking.  He was happy, clearly enjoying the teamwork, checking in constantly.  Then, he misunderstood the (bad) cue his handler gave him and went off course – exactly where she told him to go.  Clearly unhappy with him, she immediately stopped running, put her hands on her hips and stared at the poor dog.  His whole demeanor changed.  He looked confused.  She then proceeded to walk him off the course, the sad dog walking behind her.  It was upsetting to watch.  Maybe it would help if we all kept these five tips in mind when competing with our dog.

  1. You, not your dog, paid the entry fee.  He may be a willing participant, but you chose this sport. You took him to the trial/show/event. If you can’t handle the frustration, maybe you should find another hobby.
  2. Your dog might be just as happy going on a hike with you or playing outside.  All he really wants is to spend time with you, to have your love and attention.
  3. You’re the center of your dog’s world, he’s trying to please you.  Put yourself in his place.  How would you feel if you tried your hardest to please someone and they got mad at you?
  4. Ribbons and placements are important to you, not to your dog.  Does that ribbon snuggle up on the couch with you?  Does it wag it’s tail every time it sees you?  Does it comfort you when you’re sad and lick away your tears?
  5. Due to their way-too-short lifespans, your days of competing with your dog are numbered.  You may have ten years if you’re lucky.  But, trust me, they will fly by and you will regret getting upset over an NQ or a bad score.  Enjoy every minute with him!