The answer is I don’t! I travel up to Tamworth as I have found a fab trainer who I can trust with my dogs!
I often get asked if I know any agility classes I can recommend in Coventry, as they may be looking for a sport to do with their dog, looking for something extra after their obedience classes they have attended or they have seen it on TV and fancy having a go!
A few years ago, I used to attend a dog club with Maisie to practice her obedience and to teach her to work with me in a busy environment. I wanted her focus to be on me not the other dogs, so that in the future I could potentially use her as a demo dog!
When Maisie was old enough, I signed her up to agility classes at the dog club I was at as she was fast and super smart, so thought we could make a fab team doing agility together!
The time came for the foundation agility classes to start, the sun was shining and I had such great hopes imagining us competing at Crufts, even getting into the main arena!
Over the weeks we learnt some foundations of going over jumps, though tunnels, over the long jump, over the A frame and on the dog walk.
All was going super, Maisie and I were having so much fun every Sunday morning, we weren’t competition standard but it was going well……that was until we started adding verbal cues to the behaviours.
When we would be waiting our turn, Maisie had started to bark and jump around because she didn’t want to wait for her turn and just wanted to use the equipment. She was getting more and more frustrated when it wasn’t her turn and when we did take our turn she was so highly aroused I couldn’t control her very well and she was trying to do some of the course without me, by jumping over tunnels instead of though them and going the wrong way around the course.
I felt our dream of Crufts being crushed.
We then were asked to stand in a brick building, so she couldn’t see the other dogs on the course. But, as she now knew the cue words to the equipment she just need to hear ‘over’ ‘tunnel’ ‘long’ and she was completely over aroused and frustrated again.
Agility stopped being fun and started to become stressful and embarrassing.
Not long later I decided it wasn’t healthy for her to spend the best part of an hour in this state of high arousal and stopped going to agility with her.
The dream was over…..
The years passed and we tried a few other sports but didn’t find one that was suiting us both. That was until I met Claire at Chrysalis K9 one very wet January morning for a play workshop, who I was introduced to through other positive trainers I now knew.
I explained to her what had happened in the past and now that Maisie had matured did she think it would be a good idea to try again or not? Claire runs regular agility classes in Tamworth and competes at a high level with her dogs, so in my eyes she is an expert and would help me decide.
I learnt that the classes I attended in the past were aimed at fun agility, so when I was having trouble with Maisie they were not able to advise correctly what to do and they missed out quite a lot of the groundwork behaviours, that are super important to teach you and your dog to be able to use the equipment properly and safely.
So now, every week on a Friday evening I take both of my dogs to agility classes at Chrysalis K9 to be taught (rather than being the trainer!)
Maisie is doing really well and I can see us now potentially (when we are both ready) having a go at competing.
She does still sometimes struggle with waiting her turn, but to help with Maisie’s arousal we now play It’s Yer Choice (a Susan Garrett game) and play calming games to keep her arousal down. UThese are games i teach in my classes and in one to one training session I offer and can be used for many situations.
Eric is also doing just super at his classes, we are working on building his confidence on the equipment so will be playing with the wobble board this weekend and fit paws! (and practicing his two paws on!)
I have now not only found a trainer I can trust to teach us agility in the correct way and setting up my dogs for success but one I am more than happy to recommend Chrysalis K9 to others!