Summary – Bad Dog Agility Academy


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  • says:

    Hi, I do mostly NADAC. I’ve been doing agility for a long time (15+ years) and recently added visualization. I’m 62 with an artifical knee and I’ve had back surgery within the past year. I’m also a family doctor in private practice. Up until the past few years I’ve run cavaliers and just remembering the course and guiding them and sending them out for distance is what we’ve done. A few years ago I adopted a rescue border collie, Allie. Agility is an entirely different sport now. Think go cart to race car….I have trouble staying in the moment and not zoning out at all while I’m running courses with her…I could do that and get away with cavaliers but not with Allie. I get excited about a good contact and then she’s run over the table to the other side (we are doing some AKC now as well) and we’ve NQ’d again. She’s also very social so she tends to go visit if I’m the least bit unintentionally disengaged.
    I’d appreciate any ideas for staying in total focus while running. You would think that 35 to 60 seconds would be easy to stay focused but it is harder than I thought it would be.

    • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

      Hi! It sounds like you are getting distracted during your run and then you have trouble getting back on the plan you walked. There’s two strategies for this:

      #1 don’t get distracted (getting excited over a contact, looking at the judge to see if they called a contact, etc). If you didn’t walk it, don’t do it. This takes practice and intentional focus, perhaps reminding yourself during walk throughs and before your run.l

      #2 build in these distractions to your walk through (and visualization) routine. For example, if you are going to praise the dog for htiting the contact, do it in the walk through each time you get to that part, and also in your visualization before your run. This way you will have rehearsed what comes next. For dogs who get distracted or visit people, when they go off, I ignore them for a moment while I look at what part of the course was next, and when I have it, then I can start calling my dog to me. Basically, I come up with my plan for finishing the course first (including if I want to just leave the ring), and THEN get my dog. Everyone mostly does the opposite–they immediately forget the course in order to 100% concentrate on getting their dog back, and once they do, they have no idea what to do next! Make a quick plan and then get your dog.

      Please let me know if you have any follow up questions.

  • Barbara Lewis says:

    Do you see incorporating muscle memory aspects that you might develop just as you walk/run the course prior to competing?

    • Sarah Fernandezlopez says:

      Certainly. Many people benefit from “shadow handling” on the sidelines as they visualize. Miniature versions of all the arm changes and footwork they will use on the course.

  • says:

    Mental Mastery? I sure need that! Sometimes, but not always, I have to do deep breathing exercises to get rid of the stomach butterflies so I don’t stress my dog. Especially the first run of the day.

  • MaryTurcintrio says:

    I do self-positive talks to myself before runs to get myself ready

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