April 1

Agility Challenge Tip #14 – Take off your watch

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Your agility training time can be precious – at the end of a long day, or maybe at the beginning, it can be a few minutes alone, with your dogs, where you can enjoy losing yourself in the process of learning and playing with your dog. So…when you head out to train, take off your watch, and try your best to avoid measuring your training time in terms of minutes or hours, and instead, measure your training in terms of how many high-quality reaches and repetitions you and your dog make together. Rather than minutes spent, how many new connections did you form in your brain? How many new connections did you help your dog form in his or her brain?

Instead of saying, “I’m going to practice weave poles for 10 minutes,” tell yourself, “I’m going to do five really difficult weave entry approaches with my dog.” Instead of planning on spending a half an hour working through a course with your dog, plan to make 10 or 20 good, sharp handling decisions in a row on a given sequence with your dog. Your goal should be to get to the sweet spot that was mentioned in last week’s newsletter as quickly as possible, and measure your progress by reaches and reps from within that sweet spot, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Of course, this can be difficult, particularly if you’re working to fit your training in to an already busy schedule. Most of us can’t afford to get lost in the training process for hours on end, and frankly our dogs probably would get bored anyway. So, sure, set a timer or keep your eye on the clock if you’ve got to be finished with your training by a particular time, so that you can move on with your day and on to other things. But, within a training session, rather than counting your progress by minutes spent on a task, count your progress in terms of high quality, mindful, attentive repetitions and attempts, where you’re working in that zone called the sweet spot!


time, training session length

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