Fun—and choice—in Agility

“Fun” is a big word in agility. We frequently hear some version of “it is supposed to be fun, why otherwise should we be doing it”?

It does start as out fun, a novel and exciting challenge, a labyrinth of new concepts to learn, and ways to excuse spending excessive amounts of time with not only our dog but with our new, like-minded similarly agility obsessed friends.

Then the bug takes hold. We are IN it, all the way. We train and train, we start competing. And just by the nature of competitions, we are now comparing. Comparing our successes, comparing our Q rates, our YPS against that of others. And then the fear sets in. The “keeping up with the Joneses” mindset. “My next dog will be ______”; fill in the blank… faster/braver/smarter/tighter turning/better at contacts…. and on and on.

It is quite easy to get sucked into the vortex of what one of my personal gurus Gabby Bernstein calls the “when I haves”. “When I have that faster dog…,” “when I have more money to buy that online course with So And So,” “when I have more time to trial/train/study more….”

By nature, we agility people are more often than not driven, natural competitors. So we tend to be overly critical, overly-analytical, overly too easily worked up when the wheels come off.

Next time you find yourself after a disastrous run, or the unproductive lesson or practice, or the fifth time in the backyard when your dog does the “wrong” thing, try something new. Just stop. Stop and take a breath, and smile at your dog. And remind yourself that you made a choice to participate in this crazy, obsessive, addicting sport. Your dog did not, they are just along for the ride. Stop and thank your dog for being there with you, in that moment. Because, what else do we have than that?

You can choose, ALWAYS, to change your mindset. To change the way you react, and process, certain events. You can choose to be angry that you lost your Grand Prix bye to a bar, or you can choose to remember that playing agility is a privilege, not a right. To have gratitude for your dog’s and your ability to be in this space, together, surrounded by people on similar journeys, right now.

This is YOUR journey, no one else’s. Worry—aka fear—gets you nowhere. Love your dog, and your experience.

Happiness, and therein fun, is a choice. Choose to have a “fun” mindset, every time you step to the line or walk out the door to they yard to play with your dog.

You may be surprised how small of a shift can create massive results.

Read all of the FUN things here! It’s Dog Agility Bloggers Action Day. Rock on.