Clean Run - September 2011 - (Page 53)

GREATEXPECTATIONS By Nicole Levesque Although Dickens’ Great Expectations is a great novel, having great expectations is not always a wonderful idea. It can be di cult to create a balance between striving for success and expecting more than you should. For many years I have been a student of the personal improvement programs available on books and tapes. Dr Wayne Dyer walked me through many di cult years. While I try to visualize success with my dogs in training and in competition, it doesn’t always happen perfectly. It is easy to get frustrated or discouraged with your dog when everything seems to go wrong in class or in competition; the challenge is learning how to roll with it. When my Border Collie Bliss was young she was quite the handful. Although amazingly talented, she was a raging lunatic when in a group of dogs. The sight of even a slow dog running was enough to have her standing on her back legs at the end of the leash barking, leaping, and screaming. We had many training sessions that left me in tears, feeling defeated. Bliss was an agility champion when we were alone during training and an untrained lunatic when there was another dog in the area. At trials when she was a puppy, I did all the right things. We spent hours trying to get close to the rings while working on her focus on me instead of the running dogs. I was not successful in this endeavor until she reached the age of three. September 11 | Clean Run I had to remember several very important realities when I was dealing with all of these challenges. • • • • • Bliss is a Border Collie. I was dealing with generations of genetics predisposing her to focus on things that move. Bliss is a dog. She only understands what pays. I needed to make it worth her while to focus on me instead of other things in the environment. Bliss is a dog. She needed to understand the boundaries of what constituted acceptable behavior. Bliss is a dog. She didn’t understand when I repeatedly said words that had no meaning to her like, “Look at me, girlie.” Did I mention that Bliss is a dog? Unless I could be more exciting than the environment or teach her impulse control, my expectations needed to be lowered. As the human part of the team, I have to remember that I cannot expect too much from my canine teammates. I cannot expect them to behave in class with the same focus they have at home any more than you would be able to expect me to balance my checkbook in the middle of a David Bowie concert. If someone kept screaming at me to get it done, I might be successful. But how much would I enjoy the concert and how would I feel about that checkbook the next time? 53

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - September 2011

Clean Run - September 2011
Editorializing: When a “Lifetime” Only Means Five Years
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility
Backyard Dogs
Who’s Premack and What Does He Have to Do with My Start Lines?
Power Paws Drills: Front Side, Back Side
Improving Your Sports Vision, Part 1
Choosing the Most Efficient Path for Your Dog: Decision Making
Dylan’s Story
Teaching FOCUS and Impulse-control Classes: Week 5
Ready, Set, Trial! Should You Move Up?
Agility Bloopers
Training to Your Weakness: Exercises for Dogs with a Straight Front
Building and Balancing Handler and Obstacle Focus, Part 6
Great Expectations
Agility Games to Play with Puppies
Challenges for Rising Stars: Snooker Expanded
Agility Defined by Me

Clean Run - September 2011