Monday, October 12, 2009

Breaking bad habits

Nothing makes you want to rewind the clock and start over like agility. We often leave a course and say "I want a do-over!" Of course, there are no "do-overs" but it sure would be nice just to fix your mistake.
And for those of us that are training our first dogs, how many times have we wished we could rewind the clock to our novice training days and correct bad habits. Our friend Addie had the best contacts in the business and watching her stretch those long legs back to the contact while she leaned forward waiting for the release was a beautiful sight. Notice I say "was." As we progressed and started running for time with a little bit of nervousness thrown in, Addie's mom let Addie slide a little here and there. She would hit the contact, so she didn't lose her "Q," but she didn't stop... she'd keep moving to the next obstacle. Because she was still "Q-ing" Addie was allowed to continue the course. But this bad habit grew and grew until Addie decided that she not only didn't have to stop, she could jump for the highest height, ignoring that critical yellow area on the obstacle.
So Addie and her mom are trying to rewind the clock and insist on contacts and a release, every time- or else Addie leaves the ring... "no stay, no play" Imagine how difficult that is... you've paid for the show, moved two tons of stuff to the show site, waited your turn and then your dog hits the contact, but doesn't stay. You can still Q....and the little devil on your shoulder says "you can fix this problem in training-go on!" and more than almost anything, you want to finish your run. This is the decision that separates the real competitors for those that just complain that their dog never Q's and blame it on everyone but themselves.
On a happier note, Addie got to run her first complete standard course in a long while. She hit every contact! Even though there were other problems that kept her from that Q, it was quite a wonderful thing to see. I'm sure that they have not put this problem to bed forever, but at least they see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Next time, I'll tell you about Maggie's bad habit....

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