In my last two blogs i have talked about handler consistency and good foundations. But sometimes, even with all the best intentions, we get to training and we don’t follow it all through.
I once read the phrase “Train your weaknesses, compete to your strengths” and i believe this is really useful for lots of handlers to hold in their mind - something to focus on. It is so easy to be in a lesson and handle a sequence a certain way as we know thats the best way for our dog to do it. If that is you, then it is a huge positive that you know your dog so well and can predict the fastest / most accurate route for him. In competition that will give you an advantage and you must play to your strengths.
But if you always play to your strengths, then your weaknesses will always be just that - weak. The only way to improve them is to train them, practice them, perfect them. There may come a time when your preferred option is not the best route - and you will be left thinking “if only i could do…..”. You need as many different handling options in your armoury to attack a course, not just one or two moves that you do perfectly - there will be a course one day that those perfect options won’t be enough to get you round in a competitive way.
So with that in mind comes another catchphrase
“Don’t compensate in training”
If you know your dog has dodgy contacts, don’t make allowances in training - use hand signals, turn in etc - things that you don’t want to be part of your criteria, should never be part of your criteria in training. I admit in the ring, we all do occasional panic things, we are only human! But in training you need to be consistent in what you ask for, and stick to it!
PS It isn't just contacts that people make allowances for. Analyse yourself on the following - Contacts, Weave entries, start line waits, tight turns, front crosses, rear crosses.... any type of handling manouevre that you avoid?!?!? :-)