I have been thinking over the winter training plans of our dogs and some of my friends. I have been listening to people on training days, at shows, and of course on facebook! :-) I have been struck by the amount of people who seem determined to win - almost at the cost of losing the enjoyment of agility - and yet have not spent the winter wisely.
WInter training plans are often talked about - indeed some handlers spend money to work out what their own plan is, others will spend time with friends and trainers discussing them - sometimes over and over and over! But not many people stick to them it would seem. Others simply do not plan - they have a specific goal they want to achieve the next season but don't work out what training they need to do to attain it. Others keep looking for the quick fix - there isn't one!! So many people will have tried 3 diffeent weave / contact/ turn methods in one winter - none of them will have worked as they haven't stuck at any one for long enough - it takes time for improvements to show aand dogs to be confident. Every time you change something the dog will wonder if the next system is also just a phase!
It seems strange when you read it - and probably most people who read this are feeling smug that I am not describing them :-) But take a minute to stop and think. Did you sit down and work out what you needed to improve on over the winter? Did you tailor your training to achieve this or just do any sessions that you fancied? Have you worked closely with a training partner / trainer to ensure no bad habits? Has your agility improved??? Are you going to be more successful / consistent / happier this year at shows? Or are you going to be walking courses still unsure how to do them or knowing your dog can't do certain things?
I have said time and time again that I do not like people setting goals that involve moving up grades, so many wins etc.... These things involve others and can not be under your control. You can do the best run of your career and come 2nd as someone else came 1st with the best run of their career! Much better to set goals that you alone are responsible for - tighter turns, faster contacts, start line wait, etc. And when these things happen in the ring, lo and behold they willl help you to get the win you so want :-) But even if it goes wrong and you get a spectacular E, you can still achieve your goal as you may have had fab contacts etc!
So, WInter training - are you happy with yours? Or are you panicking about the season being so close :-) Has your agility improved? Are you more competent than you were last year? Is your dog able to trust you more!? I hope so. Remember you train your dog - if it doesn't understand what it has to do then its your fault!
Oh, one last thing..... as a trainer I therefore won't want to be hearing handlers moaning about the same problems as last season - You have had the winter to make the improvements - if you haven't then thats your decision - the rest of us don't want to hear about it - again!! :-)