Just a shame some get left behind with this evolution. The stragglers that just keep on living in the cave, because they can. I was 'internet agility trolling' tonight. It is kind of like on-line dating, except I don't look at hot topless pictures of who dudes claim they are. Haha, just joking there, me and The Nerd met on a dating site, so it would be REALLY hypocritical of me if I judged. Anyhow, back to agility trolling. Every once in a while me and Google hook up for an evening to find some new websites/blogs/other random interesting s%$^ relating to agility. Sometimes I find interesting/amusing/good/life-changing information, other times I just have to shake my head and laugh. It is kind of like watching a movie where some nerdy, but cute hacker, with designer horn-rimmed glasses sit in front of an impressive flashy and very expensive computer monitor, types in 'UPLOAD VIRUS' and proceeds to cause a continental black-out. That is the bane of The Nerd's world. I feel the same about agility. Sometimes it is like a B-grade, low budget movie, not only does it look stupid, but it really is stupid. Other times it is a box-office hit, where some famous director invested millions into a scene that looks impressive, but really is just bulls@#$%.
I am not (necessarily) judging these people, unfortunately in a world where there is no real international recognition body for training, people get duped easily. And not everyone is as fortunate as me to have good internet access. Or common sense. Wait, this is coming across wrong, I am NOT sitting on a high horse (although training horses gave me a different perspective on dog training, completely different subject), I am not pointing fingers at any bad training or stupid ideas (although let's face it, there are some pretty silly ones out there). Let's get to my actual point. I have been in agility since 1997 and it is phenomenal how the sport has grown. Yet there are still people that are stuck in the 90's (wearing 80's fashion by the way) with their training methods. NOT because they don't have access to the information, but because they used to have success and work on the equation of past success (by past standards) equals good training (by past standards), therefor current success (by current standards) MUST equal good training (by past standards). In the last month I have 'come across' four handlers, that publicly admit they want to be competitive, but their poles are about 1 second off the pace. Why? Well they still use the whole 'step into your dog, step out of your dog' back and forth training method. Does it work to teach your dog to weave? Yes, it does, my first dogs were taught like that, so I know it works. But are there (a million) more effective ways that have been developed by very intelligent and knowledgeable people? Yeah pretty much. And these methods are widely known to the people I am referring to.
That is one stupid little example, but judging by the improvement of dogs at every single major international competition on an annual basis, I think we all need to realise that there is NO perfect in the near future. Innovative, creative and dedicated agility training leads to more spectacular competition every day. Every day we have to try and grow in our training. Especially when it comes to our pups. I actually had a long conversation with a student recently. She is taking one of my on-line courses and was asking if I would be training Volt exactly the same as I trained Spaz five years ago. She was taken aback when I said that I often adapt to/add to my training program and therefor HER training program. My fundamental principles in training are solid and set in stone (for now), but I think every trainer should strive to adding that 'little bit more towards perfection' every day. I am not talk about change, just evolution. Hopefully if you have common sense you will know what I mean by that confusing statement???
Okay I tried to think of a nice flowing 'switch over' to the last topic of my post, but I failed, so I will just take a flying leap to the next topic. I risky flying leap. Getting ANY puppy, from ANY brilliant line, after a TON of research, after EVERY aptitude and health test in the book, is still a risk. You never know what happens, you never know what the outcome (or the influences towards that) will be. Even if you do everything right, something can still go wrong. This risk is not a problem for me. I commit to my dogs regardless, whether they will turn out to have issues (health or behavioural), they can live happy lives with me and we will deal with it. It doesn't make the risk any less. I think most agility people have the hope that their new puppy will be a 'little better' than their previous dog. It is natural. But 99.99% of use couldn't care less after the first week with our new addition. Our boys (and girls) just crawl into our hearts and stay there. Oh please, still do your research and your tests! VERY important to try and minimize the risk as much as we can.