Monday, August 26, 2013


Las Last weekend Magic and I, along with several of our dog friends attended and participated in a dog agility trial. While I had a great time and I love the crew I hang out with there were several things that I observed this weekend that I found to be disturbing.

I want to start by stating that the group I hang out with is fabulous. We help, we laugh, we encourage, we support each other and the other competitors. But more importantly we help, we encourage and we support our DOGS. While we all try to be successful, we do so in a manner that is encouraging, that is safe, that works to our dogs strengths. This group will pull an entry if the course is not safe for the dog at this time, or modify a course to make it fun and successful for the dog. This group will try new things, we will push our comfort levels, but NOT intentionally at the dogs expense. Q be damned, it’s a team sport, and this group supports not only each other, but each other’s dogs. And more importantly our own dogs, you know the dogs we brought and we chose to play with.
Why am I ranting, because this weekend I saw things that made me so very sad, and at times so very angry. I saw handlers with dogs who so clearly were showing that they were uncomfortable, possibly they were stressed, appeared that they were hurting. Handlers who screamed at the dogs on course, never giving the dog any praise or good feedback, or worse gave them the same feedback for both good behavior and bad performances. There was a handler who when the dog missed a contact loudly told the dog I HATE YOU. Really??

I understand sometimes we think a dog is ready and we find out at a trial they are not. Sometimes we find out at a trial a dog is hurting or sore or stressed. I am not talking about the occasional odd run where it appears the dog is blowing off its handler, and I am not talking about training in the ring. Sometimes those things become apparent when you watch people and watch the interactions. I’m not talking about the people who are gently working with a stressed or learning dog to keep moving forward. I am talking about the handlers who week after week berate the dogs, blame the dogs

Our dogs do not choose when to go to a trial, they do not choose how we train them. Why then would we choose to make our dog miserable? I don’t understand the thought processes in this. And I really don’t want to understand it. What I want to do is rip that poor dog away from its handler, and show the dog some kindness.

I’m not perfect, I make mistakes, sometimes I get sad or mad, but dammit if I EVER act this way, if I ever blame my dog for my failures as a trainer, call me on it. Kick me, yell at me, do whatever it takes because a Q, a win or whatever is NOT WORTH IT! I want my dog looking at me just like this ALWAYS.


Taryn said...

GREAT POST! I am thankful that bad behavior is pretty rare at the trials I attend, but I have seen things that made my jaw drop.

If your chosen dog sport stresses you out so much that you tell your dog you hate him, something is very, very wrong. That's definitely a person doing dog sports for their ego and not for the dog/handler bond.

Chris said...

Well said. And you train with a great group of people, people who either get it right away or are shown HOW to get it. I do feel sorry for the people you describe, because they MIGHT get it with better instruction!

Wolfwood said...

I wish people could remember it is really about the relationship with the dog. Titles are so at the bottom of my list. I have taken a break from trialling in Rally this year so I can get back to basics with my kids instead of trying to rush them through titles.

Baledwr said...

Very well put. You can substitute your venue of choice, but it should always be about the dog and relationship; you should always have a support group with the same ideology and goals.