Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Positively ATTITUDE!

Dog Agility Blog Event Day - June 6, 2012; please visit all the blogs at: (

What I have learned:

Wow, so much has to do with "Attitude" so where do I start?   I guess a good place to start would be a quote; For success, attitude is equally as important as ability.” Harry F. Banks. While it is a great quote, I would change it to "For success in agility a positive attitude is essential".  It is not something which was learned recently or over a period of time, my trainers have always mentioned a positive attitude would be essential to our success as a team.  As with many things in life knowing something and practicing it can often be difficult.

When I first started to write this I had planned on going a different direction, mentioning many things you hear from trainers about keeping a positive attitude, some suggestions on keeping training fun, etc. and did leave some of it at the end of this post.  Then as I was thinking about what else to write I started thinking about all that I had learned about myself and my particular problems keeping a positive attitude.  Figured that maybe others of you had similar experiences and could relate to mine so that is how I ended up with this kind of funky and disjointed post. 

OK, I am going to bare my soul which is very difficult for me.  Please don't think this is an excuse, that I am feeling sorry for myself or don't like who I am.  In fact I do like myself, am happy with the person I have become and proud of the accomplishments in my life.  Just as with many others there are some hurdles which get in the way of staying positive in certain situations.  I am an "introvert", very introverted, probably 27 or 28 "true" responses to the 29 questions of "Are you an Introvert" ( so some things are difficult for me.  I am also a bit shy, not as shy as I was as a child and young adult but still shy in new situations.  I never really read about being an introvert until recently, I always kind of mixed up shyness with introversion and never understood why I was just so down and tired after doing a trial.  Here is a part of a definition about  having an "introvert" personality that opened my eyes and sums up how I feel.

Introverts tend to get their energy from within, so being with people is draining. After a day filled with people or activities, introverts tend to feel exhausted and empty. To recharge their batteries introverts need to be alone reading, daydreaming, painting, or gardening – any solo activity fills them up again. This doesn't mean introverts have to live alone in a cave in the hills or on Walden Pond; they just need quiet time to come back to themselves. (

This is so true for me.  Probably that drain of energy and emotion is communicated to my dogs in those types of situations.  Don't get me wrong, I love being around people especially family, close friends and agility people.  I always look forward to going to trials or would never have continued in agility.  I will admit it is often difficult at a trial to keep myself positive and up even when enjoying myself.  There has to be a lot of agility people who are introverted so if any of you other introverts out there have some tips on how you keep yourself positive please feel free to comment, any suggestions would be appreciated.  OK enough of that, just wanted to point out what I've learned about myself and something which I need to learn to overcome to be successful.

The following are some observations learned while training and helpful hints from others:
I think one of the most valuable lessons I have learned is having fun is contagious.  If I am projecting positive vibes, my boxers will perk up and have fun.  When I see them having fun it pumps me up and we end up having a wonderful time.  I try to keep training sessions short and always finish on a "positive" note.  Don't train the same thing over and over, vary what you are training so it doesn't become boring or frustrating to either of you.  Don't push your dog into something they are not ready to do, give them time to acclimate themselves to a situation before putting them into it.

Things I found I need to work at the hardest:
Stress is just as contagious as having fun; if I see Kiah becoming stressed at a trial I stress more which in turn makes her more stressed.  I have to learn to ignore that stress and just plan to have fun when we run no matter what happens.  Kiah needs a lot of positive praise when running at a trial, I find myself (and others have told me) praising her but not with the enthusiasm that gets her going.  I tend to concentrate on running the course rather than running her and having fun.

I have learned so much from working with Kiah, sadly due to making many mistakes with her.  Hopefully those mistakes will benefit future dogs with my being a more positive and happy trainer.  A trainer that learns to enjoy the experience more and doesn't over think every situation or experience.  Keegan still seems to be enjoying himself at trials although we have only done one so far, he will be doing two trials at the end of June.  Depending on how he does at these two trials will determine whether he will do any others this summer or wait to the club's trial in December.  He will go slowly and not be pushed into situations he is not prepared to handle.  

That is all I have to say for now and I hope you visit the other blogs on "Attitude" and other articles.  I am looking forward to reading them and know I will learn something from each one.


  1. I consider myself an introvert too. It's definitely not an excuse, but I tend to say "I hate people" by the end of a trial. Obviously not true or I wouldn't keep doing it. I find that I just walk away from everything in a weekend. When I walk courses and warm up/cool down my dog, I put my headphones in so I'm not distracted by the people. If I'm a worker/volunteer and I grab lunch, I'll take it with me and eat outside by myself with my dogs. It's not to say that I don't talk to people all weekend at a trial, but you need to do what's best for you so you can be best for your dogs. Good post!

  2. I am definitely an introvert and definitely shy. One of the hardest things for me was getting used to working with my dog in front of an audience. It's also probably one of the reasons we haven't officially entered a trial.

    When I am feeling overwhelmed, I find stepping outside or away from the group and just hanging out with my dog, maybe working on some tricks, or just relaxing, makes a big difference. Go for a walk, breathe, that sort of thing. It helps me regain perspective, especially if things haven't been going well on the course.

    Greet post!

  3. Great post! I appreciate your candor and honesty. You are definitely not alone, many folks (myself included on some days) in the dog world, tend towards introversion. In fact, I would wager a guess that many of the folks involved in dog activities are drawn to animals for that very reason. Thanks again for sharing, very brave.

  4. Hi. I found you from a friend's blog.

    Just thought you might be interested in entering a photo contest.
    All you have to do is REGISTER as a user on then post a photo of your dog doing any type of dog sport, (e.g. agility in your case) and then get people to vote. Winner gets $50.
    I'm helping the woman running this advertise so would be grateful if you could enter, if it doesn't take too much of your time. Thanks!!!

  5. I loved this article. I've only entered 1 trial with my Malcolm and he was too young and inexperienced to enter. He stressed out before he jumped out of my jeep and got worse as the day went; which in turn made me stress out and we entered that whole circle of death, as I like to call it. It was the most horrible weekend I've ever spent and I wrote an article on my blog categorically stating that I would never do that to him or me again. We haven't entered another trial.
    But time, practice and this article have really helped me.........I feel the exact same way as you described and of course, I love gardening too! I always imagine (probably wrongly) that other people and their dogs are so much better than mine. Until I really watch them practice. Our team is usually the best team in any given class I'm taking. It seems that I'm "biting myself in the butt". I'll work on that and see you at a trial someday! :)) Thank you for your insight. Wish we lived closer so you could help me practice!

    1. Thanks for the comments Brenda, it would be nice if we could make it to some of the same trials. Right now we pretty much only enter trials in our area though. We do plan to go to Boxer Nationals in Indianapolis next May. Are you going?


Please feel free to comment; would love to hear if you have suggestions or tips.