Saturday, December 24, 2011


Ok, so if you aren't into dog sports - don't read this.
Actually, if you are into dog sports - don't read this.
These are just some thoughts I have had the last couple weeks.

So, I have been thinking about speed and enthusiasm.  Well, I recently got a new job at work.  They are letting me use a new piece of equipment that is made of glass (!!) and it costs $100,000.00 (!!).  If you drop it, it's done for.  Oh, yeah and this equipment is something you carry around.  It also replaces a system that I have used for the last 10 years.  TEN YEARS.  That's a lot of muscle memory.  Before, I could do my job with my eyes closed (shhh, I only did it a couple of times!).  Now I have to THINK all the time about what I'm doing.  What I will do next.  Am I doing it right?  And I am SLOW.  So, so terribly slow.  However, if someone tries to rush me?  I get even slower!  Because?  I want to think.  I have to think.  I don't want to mess up and there is someone (for example, a patient in pain or a coworker with another patient) pushing me to go faster, but it only makes me 1-go slower and 2- get upset.
But every day that I work with the equipment - I am getting faster.  My attitude is improving.  The more comfortable I get the happier and faster I go. 
Can you see where I'm going with this story?

After having to learn something new, I have a enormous, huge, great sympathy for Tibby.  I can not expect her to be fast when she is just starting to learn agility.  The more I push her, the slower she will go.  AND THAT IS REASONABLE.  It is a normal response to something new and difficult. 

So if you want to understand what it's like to be a dog (sort of LOL!) try to learn something new.  And not something low stress, like painting in your own house.  Something where someone is watching you and pushing you to go faster, like an exercise class or bagging groceries (that looks pretty stressful to me!).  It's amazing to see how the other side of your team feels.


Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

I think those are very good thoughts and absolutely true. With confidence comes speed.

Susan Garret uses the acronym DASH for her priorities in training: Desire, Accuracy, Speed, and Habitat.

But personally I tend to prioritize Desire and Speed over Accuracy in the learning process. In your recent example you're having to think a lot as you're learning so much at one time. But in dog training you can break things down into small steps and get the speed and desire you want from the start, very slowly increasing difficulty. With confidence comes speed and it's possible to produce that confident dog right from the start by keeping everything a really fun game, no stress.

But you also have to keep in mind that both you and Tibby are new to dog training and agility. You are both learning as you go and thus you can't expect to be confident in everything you are doing from the start. To add to the difficulty you have a non traditional breed where you have to work even harder to make desire and speed a priority.

I think you're doing a great job! And I really love this insightful post!

Crystal Thompson said...


Catalina said...

Laura - Thanks! I've been thinking about it for a while now and just needed to write it out :)
The thing that was most shocking to me, is that I have been doing my job for over 10 years and I SHOULD know how to do it - new equipment or no new equipment. BUT it was quite the eye opener to see what it feels like to learn how to do something all over. I felt like a student again!! :P

Crystal - Thank you so much!

24 Paws of Love said...

Very wise words. Something I've have been slowly learning over the years with my own dogs. When I let them go at their pace, they find the confidence to do it and then become better and faster.

Isn't it amazing how simple logic like that can make transformational differences.

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

I think another important part of your story is pressure. Pressure to learn it quickly, to not fail. And pressure breaks confidence.

Our dogs are so amazing for putting up with us!

andrea said...

wise words indeed :)

Miss Kodee said...

So true!! We started Agility a few months ago and Becky was so quick to learn. Then we added one too many jumps too soon. She shut down. Patience and a reminder to keep it fun for everyone was needed. I am sure you too will get back on track soon - but I agree new things are stressful at times.