Competition – What Is It Good For?

Here’s some background music for you.

There has been an interesting development over the past few months: I don’t miss competitions. I feel no desire to go and no pressing urge to complete Java’s training so she could compete (not that she could train right now anyway). I always preferred training over competition, but this is new for me.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am all for competitive agility and I am especially happy every time I see a whippet do a good job in competition, but I don’t feel the need to go out and prove anything to myself like I used to. Not because I would have such mad skillz, but because right now, for the first time since I’ve been bitten by agility bug I am quite content enjoying agility in private or with friends. I like it that if I screw up I can just go back and redo the sequence, feeling no pressure about it.

There’s just one thing.
My training with Ruby lacks focus. Oh, we’re having fun and we’re sort of making progress, but it’s so tempting to work on the “easy stuff” and avoid things that I don’t like to train so much. Like weave entrances. Or 2o2o position on dog walk. Or weave entrances (oh I said that already? Yeah, not a fan). It’s easy to leave behaviors half-finished and not train them thoroughly.

So I decided I’m going to pretend I’m entering a competition on May 31st. It’s in ลฝelezniki and I really don’t feel like getting up early on a Saturday morning to drive there so I don’t think we will actually go. But just thinking about the possibility of it instantly focused my thoughts. In five minutes I had a list of 14 things I want to work on with Ruby and at least half of them were not on my agenda before. I like this. More focus, more action, more fun ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Start running one 20-obstacle course every week for mental practice (mine and his)

    • I found that running two 10-obstacle sequences is not the same as running one 20-obstacle sequence
    • For Ruby: he gets tired faster. Maybe it requires more strength because muscles don’t get any rest in between (imagine sprinting 50m vs 100m). Mentally it’s more difficult too which could mean more possibility for errors – more possibility for injuries.
    • For me: I get sloppy when getting in positions because I don’t remember the course as well as with 10 obstacles
  • Get jump height up to 55cm (we’re currently jumping at 45-50cm)
  • Go to another club to train (vary equipment)
  • Practice 2o2o contacts on rubber dog walk (because he’s used to running it)
  • Transition toward no reward on the contacts. The last time we practiced dog walk/teeter was two weeks ago. This was also the first time we used 2o2o in sequence since 2011, so of course I was rewarding right on the spot. I think Ruby values the opportunity to continue the course much more than those cookies so taking the cookies away should be really easy. But what if it’s not? I think I’m a little scared to find out ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Try out A-Frame. Ruby hasn’t done a single one since 2011. My plan is to let him run it and if he happens to hit the contact – great. If he chooses a striding that doesn’t let him hit the contact then we’ll use stride regulators in practice. The plan is not to train A-Frame at all, just run it in courses.
  • Actually train spread jump. Ruby takes off early for the spread jump just like he does for all other jumps, except his calculations allow him to clear normal jumps while with the spread he sometimes falls short.
  • Finish training tyre. Ruby is not entirely sure that tyre should really be taken from all angles and from all obstacles before and after, so the mission is to find those “exceptions” and fix them.
  • Practice a double jump – can’t remember the last time I set one up in a sequence.
  • Find a wall and collapsed tunnel to practice – two obstacles that are missing at our club.
  • Practice serpentines, 180 degrees turns after a straight line
  • Rear cross on teeter
  • Weave entrances. Ruby says those should be practiced every week while I really like to “forget” about practicing them. Right now they are a complete mess.
  • Staying in weaves while I run ahead, run laterally or hang behind. There are many more fancy distractions that we could train for, but these will do for a start.

Quite a list, eh? I guess competitions are good for something after all ๐Ÿ˜‰

Proof that we have started practicing at least tyre, serpentines and weaves (and a proof that we got a bit of that elusive forward focus!):

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Categories: Uncategorized | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Competition – What Is It Good For?

  1. Quite interesting this To-Do list! I on the other hand love agility competitions, I love them to the point of having attended a lot of them even before I had a dog to compete with ๐Ÿ™‚
    Now that I have Sure I love them even more, because it’s so thrilling to run with her, I love to feel the adrenaline rush and the connection with her. It is also food for thoughts since I can observe her reaction to a different setting, running surface, obstacles and sequences and collect alla these observations in a sort of To-Do list of my own to improve our routine and our performance.
    The outcome is very similar in the end and I think this is what matters, our focus on what need to be improved and new ideas for training!

    • Oh Letizia I wish I would feel the same about them as you do, the adrenaline of competition always scares me. I’m glad you’re enjoying your time out there with Sure. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. MaryHope Schoenfeld

    I love your to-do list. I wish i could be more organized about training. Like most of us, i’m better at training the things i enjoy — jump handling & weaves are more fun for me than training contacts. But i love competition — both Shela & i love the adrenaline rush. I wish i could reproduce that excitement in training. She nails her stopped contacts & independent weaves in training — even in class — but her head kind of explodes at trials & it’s hard for her to meet criteria. She IS getting better now that she’s almost 9 years old & my handling has improved a little. Sometimes i wonder if a more organized training routine would help reign in the craziness. Nevertheless, i love the excitement of a trial.

    • Yeah it’s hard when an issue only comes up in competition. Do you uphold the same criteria in competition as you do in training? ๐Ÿ™‚ I know… coming from someone who doesn’t trial at all ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Penny

    Competition still seems like chore to me. I thought it might change with Badger…turns out no ๐Ÿ™‚

    I will be happy if you just post all your training on the internets and i will clap you very loudly!

  4. Penny

    Clap clap clap clap clap

  5. MaryHope Schoenfeld

    No, i really don’t uphold my criteria in competition (bad trainer!). I really don’t want to have to walk Shela out of the ring when she blows a contact or pops out of the weaves. So i have only myself to blame for the competition dog i’ve created. I should have done more matches & run-throughs with her when she was younger (those are sort of practice trials where you can train in the ring). I hope to do that with my puppy this year, before we enter any “real” trials.

    • Yay, a puppy entering the scene! I bet you’re excited ๐Ÿ™‚ Entering her in matches sounds like a great idea. I wish you a lot of luck ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Pingback: Don’t Succeed In Spite Of Problems – Succeed Because Of Them! | Ruby The Whippet

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