Monday, July 21, 2014


The link to the above article is making its way around Facebook today. I saw it early this morning posted by one of my Klee Kai connections and now I see it is being passed around the agility world.

I'm astonished at how much "stuff" some people try to pack in with their dogs these days. Obviously they think they are doing what is best for the dog -- keeping active dogs active -- but the amount of pressure some people place on themselves and their dogs is just astounding. I see people posting on Facebook about leaving for some training class at 8 p.m. and just think to myself, "how do they do that?" And they don't just do it occasionally, they do it several days a week! And sometimes they have a class or two before the late one. I just couldn't do it.

I admit it, I'm not a "class" person. I despise the idea of having to work with one dog for an entire hour. We just don't work that way. My dogs are used to sessions that typically last well under 10 minutes each. I ask for a lot in those few minutes of work. I want a lot of energy from my dogs when we work together. I fear that asking for their attention for an hour at a time on a repeated/regular basis would result in some pretty lackluster work and just going through the motions. How is that fun for anyone?

I know people who have agility class one or two nights a week, with rally on another night, nosework another night, maybe a herding lesson now and then, drop in on obedience or conformation classes other nights, and then go to a trial or show darn near every weekend. Okay, while my first thought is, "How the heck do they afford that," I'm often wondering how they keep up that schedule without completely burning out. Sadly, based on many of the comments you see posted online, I think some of them are burned out. And so are their dogs. But they keep doing it "for their dogs." This just seems backwards.

I seem to go through phases where I work my dogs more, but the vast majority of the time they are hugely under-trained. I live by the philosophy of, "if you train them right it sticks." Maybe I'm just really lucky?  ;o)  Or maybe I'm just lazy, because 9 times out of 10 I will pick frisbee or hiking or swimming over setting up something to drill in the yard. I think my dogs look forward to playing agility more when it's not overwhelming our lives. There have been times (like leading up to Champs in 2011) where I just drilled WAY too much and it affects all of us. As the article above points out, often you are better off "being" more than "doing."

I'm looking forward to "being" with my dogs more this week! Only one night at Petco and then I'm home every other night this week. Hooray! It's supposed to be terribly hot the next couple of days, so I'm hoping we can go swimming again now that the water is back down to safe levels. The dogs really enjoyed the beach yesterday!


  1. Recently I was amazed by a post that one individual sent to our Colorado Agility email group - something about her or her dog getting injured, and because of that, they were selling their class on Monday, on Tuesday and the one on Wednesday. Holy crap I thought!

    Some people definitely overdo it. I have friends who will compete every weekend - I shoot for 1 or 2 a month.

    A solid, focused 10 minutes of training 4 or 5 times a week is plenty for a young dog, and even less for an experienced dog.
    I remember when my daughter was having some struggles with her dog - I had suggested that instead of training, just play for a while. It really helped!

    I think we do get caught up in the 'wow I am way behind because Bob's dog is already doing X' stuff, when we really just are supposed to 'enjoy the journey'!

    1. Wow, three nights in a row would really burn me out. I mean, when would I catch up on my DVR? ;)

      Part of my brain (the competitive, goal-chasing side) would LOVE to go to trials every weekend. I would have to not have a job to maintain that schedule, though, because that would totally wipe me out. I don't know how people do it. I just need a day to do absolutely nothing every now and then. I think the dogs are the same way, although their idea of "nothing" is a little different from mine. :)

      I struggle with the idea behind classes. I think the main point is to get the human trained, and THAT part can definitely take a little longer. It's just unfortunate that we subject our dogs to our failures while we learn. In the horse world it's nice because you can often learn to ride on lesson horses and schoolmasters long before you ever try to train up a green horse. In the dog world it's novice paired with novice, which hardly seems fair to the dog but what can you do. Not many people are going to want to pay for a class where they train for 10 minutes and then you tell them to go play with their dog for the last 50 minutes. :)