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Not a BC - but agility and a shameless brag.

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Although dogs certainly make mistakes, I think that is most cases it is us. In instances in which the handling is not off, we need to ask ourselves if the dog was properly prepared for the challenge......Are there training issues? skill issues? proofing issues? fitness issues? mental issues? (fear, anxiety), soundness issues?, does dog simply not have the physical ability to perform the task?

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Although dogs certainly make mistakes, I think that is most cases it is us. In instances in which the handling is not off, we need to ask ourselves if the dog was properly prepared for the challenge......Are there training issues? skill issues? proofing issues? fitness issues? mental issues? (fear, anxiety), soundness issues?, does dog simply not have the physical ability to perform the task?

 

Yeah, this.

 

I mean I say it's never, ever, not been fixed by me adjusting handling but that's removing those issues where one of those things are in play. It's stuff she KNOWS. The rest - well it's still a fix that's on my end. The dog just doing it wrong when being physically and mentally capable as well as understanding just haven't really happened.

 

Though the trip in the weave poles affecting mechanics and making her pop is one of the examples of 'I can't fix that' because it's just random accident.

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Now I teach I am very aware that the mistakes are nearly always handler related, or very importantly a hole in training. As an example last week everyone was working on a front cross exercise and a team were struggling at the second cross in the sequence, initially I thought it was her timing, then I ran the sequence with her border collie and realized he has developed a habit of going behind her and not reading her signals. That's not a fault on the dog's part but a consequence of him making his own decisions as she has not yet gained the confidence to be clear with her directions, so I dialed the exercise back and went back to fundamentals so he understood what was needed.

 

But there are times, especially with an experienced dog that they own the fault, a few weekends ago my dog decided that he was not going to weave, it was providing my friends much amusement to see him decide to yell at me when He realized the next obstacle was those evil poles, once in the poles he was fine... But those entrance faults belonged to him (and I have video evidence to my innocence). My response focus on weaves and build value in achieving difficult entrances.

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It's a slippery slope blaming the dog; so easy to clutch at any excuse for personal error. Doesn't mean that the dog should be expected to be up for it whenever we want; they aren't our slaves or robots.

 

As for Kylie, it's been great seeing her progress. She looks keen enough to me and she only slows down when she doesn't know where to go next and then accelerates. She's not just doing it because she's asked; she clearly enjoys it and gets a real buzz from it. Uncertainty will diminish with handler experience.

 

Great training if she wasn't always like that.

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. She's not just doing it because she's asked; she clearly enjoys it and gets a real buzz from it. Uncertainty will diminish with handler experience.

 

Great training if she wasn't always like that.

 

Thanks!

 

Kylie has been a really interesting, and really rewarding experience. At the very early stages of the game she'd outright walk a course - and I mean plod. She'd shut down completely in frustration if she didn't get something or heard or say any indication AT ALL that she was not right. My frustration, having to redo the same exercise, a no reward marker, a tiny reward instead of a bigger one, just insta-flat puppy. Also including ME getting something wrong and needing to redo. She'd just be a puddle of sad with drooping ears and tail who didn't want to play anymore. Our private lessons were MAYBE 15 minutes long, and those 15 minutes were probably 10 minutes worth of play break, that wasn't really much play because - LOL, Kylie didn't play - because more than that and she'd be fried mentally.

 

Midway through, I got a dog who thought it was kind of fun and would play - both agility (as play with some tentative Yay?, and in general, but would basically walk off the course if it was hot, cold, raining, or she knew where my husband was and I was pretty chuffed.

 

These days she's yapping and acting a fool going into the field. She doesn't care if it's sheeting rain - and she has run in pouring rain - freezing cold or hot as blazes, because she wants to play. if my husband is around trying to hold her while I course walk he has to carry her away from me because she wants to be out there WAY more. That's why we're finally able to get video. Before she'd just run to him and ask to be picked up/in his lap. If something goes wrong, she doesn't go flat - she's got some resiliency.

 

That conversation with my trainer included a remark or three about how far she's come - because yesterday was so wild and wanted to play so much, even at the end of our whole 30 minute session. I love that my instructor recognizes that as progress.

 

That you see her as keen enough and happy and playing because it's fun? Is the best compliment for me EVER for the same reason:

 

I am as proud of this as anything we've done on an agility course.

And that is absolutely, totally, built up from a dog who spent all but the first four months of her life with a total disinterest in playing any game except a very brief game of 'wrestle with my hand'.

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Although dogs certainly make mistakes, I think that is most cases it is us. In instances in which the handling is not off, we need to ask ourselves if the dog was properly prepared for the challenge......Are there training issues? skill issues? proofing issues? fitness issues? mental issues? (fear, anxiety), soundness issues?, does dog simply not have the physical ability to perform the task?

 

Those are all important things to consider. Many of those can be examined in light of the dog's performance history. A dog with a consistent performance history of a particular skill has demonstrated level of training, skill level, fluency, and the physical ability to perform the task. Fitness and soundness is always an important consideration, but it can usually be gauged by performance history. I would be more inclined to think there might be a fitness issue if a certain skill deteriorated and did not bounce back readily than if a skill slipped at one event and then no evidence of an issue came up again.

 

But sometimes it is just the case that the dog made a mistake.

 

They are as capable as making mistakes as we are.

 

I have to wonder why people are so resistant to that idea. Personally, the fact that my dog can make mistakes, but so rarely dos makes me respect her more than I would if I felt she was a point and shoot machine who could only mess up if I were not perfect. :D

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I think people are 'resistant' to the idea for a couple of reasons.


1-) While blame and fault what most of us mean is actually responsibility. That means if it's a training issue, a fitness issue, a confidence issue, whatever, it's still 'ours' rather than the dogs.

 

2-) If you consider ALL THE POSSIBLE REASONS for something to go wrong, dog making a mistake is one. The reasons on the part of the handler/that are the human's responsibility are about a billion. Or, at least, many more than one.

 

Okay, few reasons:

 

3-) If the issue is a dog making a mistake and you don't identify that properly but still go back to work on confidence, fitness, your timing, just training, whatever, the result is not damaging. It's just extra training and maybe more reward history if you do it right. If the result is something YOU did and you 'blame' the dog, withhold a treat, take them off the field or just don't do the fitness/conditioning/confidence building exercises the dog needs, you have at best not resolved the issue and at worst have created a much bigger one.

 

and 4, the obvious: People are much more inclined dog than themselves. Not most experienced people and not everyone, but getting through the head of newbies NOT to blame the dog, not to withhold the reward or issue a correction or get irritated with the dog can be difficult. Which poisons the game for the dog.

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Also, let's get real a second:

What the dog does during agility isn't rocket science. You can have a mistake made due to mechanical error that the dog may be responsible for (for ex: when they take off for a jump) but mostly the dog's job is to go where you point them and the more difficult end of the sport is on the part of the handler. Weaves are kind of complicated, sticking contacts can be hard for some dogs, teeters can be scary, but mostly it's run/jump/climb where I point you.

 

99% of the time, if the dog is trying to do what you asked/go where you are pointing them and something went awry, it's because something in the training or teaching process went wrong/wasn't there, or the handler didn't ask for what they thought they asked for.

 

That's not saying no 'oops, my bad' never happens on the dog's part, but mostly? The dog's running in a line you draw for them with stuff in the way. The hardest part and place mistakes are most likely is you drawing that line accurately and being clear with verbals and body language to get the dog to stay on the right one. Not in taking a jump, or climbing a thing or hitting a tunnel.


Yeah, even with tough discriminations and things like weaves which may be harder to teach, but once understood are still 'draw the line' issues.

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I think that we need to consider that sometimes when a dog does something correctly, it was an accident and that the behavior was not really trained or proofed.

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I think people are 'resistant' to the idea for a couple of reasons.

 

1-) While blame and fault what most of us mean is actually responsibility. That means if it's a training issue, a fitness issue, a confidence issue, whatever, it's still 'ours' rather than the dogs.

 

That's the thing - I don't believe that "the reason" = blame or fault.

 

And I would agree that if it is a training issue, fitness issue, or handling issue, then the reason (no blame, no "fault) would certainly lie with the handler.

 

I still hold, however, that not all mistakes on the part of the dog necessarily derive from those reasons. They often do, but not always.

 

And sometimes a dog has a very good reason (inability to see due to a glare, for instance), for doing something other than what has been trained/indicated.

 

But I would still maintain that sometimes they make mistakes, same as we do.

 

2-) If you consider ALL THE POSSIBLE REASONS for something to go wrong, dog making a mistake is one. The reasons on the part of the handler/that are the human's responsibility are about a billion. Or, at least, many more than one.

 

This is where we disagree. I simply don't buy the idea that dogs are so incapable of personal error that for all intents and purposes they never make them.

 

I see it in everyday life. Dean tried to run right through a barrier the other day. I didn't send him to it - I was actually interacting with Bandit nearby. It was in his plain sight. He simply decided to go that way and wasn't watching where he was going and he ran right into it.

 

It was a mistake on his part.

 

And I see it in the Agility ring, in the Freestyle ring, in the Rally ring, in training . . . all over. I make mistakes. My dogs make mistakes. Sometimes I am the reason for my dog's mistakes and sometimes I'm not. Sometimes my dog is the reason for my mistakes!! (Again, that's not blame or "fault"). But we are a team - in our successes and in our mistakes. And it's all good.

 

 

Okay, few reasons:

 

3-) If the issue is a dog making a mistake and you don't identify that properly but still go back to work on confidence, fitness, your timing, just training, whatever, the result is not damaging. It's just extra training and maybe more reward history if you do it right. If the result is something YOU did and you 'blame' the dog, withhold a treat, take them off the field or just don't do the fitness/conditioning/confidence building exercises the dog needs, you have at best not resolved the issue and at worst have created a much bigger one.

 

AAAAAHHHH!!!! There we go!! I was thinking something along those lines.

 

Remember - I don't do things like that: withhold a treat, take them off the field, etc. for mistakes. And fitness/conditioning/confidence building/behavior maintenance exercises are a constant for my dogs throughout their careers. Training is constant. Even when Tessa is perfect, we are still training to get better. So, if she makes a one time mistake, it's not like we don't train, but I don't really focus much on whatever the issue was. If a mistake repeats a few times - then I focus training on it.

 

Whether Tessa was perfect and earned a Q or something went wrong on course, get gets a hearty "GOOD GIRL" at the end of the run and a rain of chicken in her crate and then a walk. And I tell her how proud I am of her. See - that's the thing - mistakes aren't bad. They just are what they are. It can be disappointing to lose a Q, but I never impose a consequence on Tessa when it happens. She goes out and runs her heart out. Mistakes don't change how much I appreciate what she does out there. And I am very committed to having the exact same attitude with Bandit when his turn comes.

 

Now, when I do something dumb and I know it, I kick myself for it! I also take care, though, to make sure I don't direct that at Tessa.

 

And that might make a difference in my approach to this.

 

 

and 4, the obvious: People are much more inclined dog than themselves. Not most experienced people and not everyone, but getting through the head of newbies NOT to blame the dog, not to withhold the reward or issue a correction or get irritated with the dog can be difficult. Which poisons the game for the dog.

 

I do understand this particular focus with newbies.

 

But neither of us are newbies! :) So, I think looking at it in more depth - just as we are now - is definitely appropriate.

 

I guess if the only two options are "It's all the handler" or "It's all the dog", then I would advocate "It's all the handler". I just thing that in reality it is two fallible individuals who are mutually doing their best, mutually getting things right, and mutually making mistakes. :D

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The hardest part and place mistakes are most likely is you drawing that line accurately and being clear with verbals and body language to get the dog to stay on the right one. Not in taking a jump, or climbing a thing or hitting a tunnel.

 

Yeah, even with tough discriminations and things like weaves which may be harder to teach, but once understood are still 'draw the line' issues.

 

There we definitely agree!!

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Honestly, some of it may well be that because my dog needs to be right it is 200% easier to communicate that to the dog if I believe she's always right. It doesn't change how I do things either way, but 'you're always right! yay!' is easier for me to maintain than serious analysis. It doesn't hurt my confidence to be wrong or think I'm wrong but it does hurt hers. I'm not a good enough actor for her not to notice, and I tend to want to overwork the dog anyway. I don't, anymore, but the tendency is there.


Also two sort of asides:

1-) I totally consider myself a newbie. Maybe not totally green but I've done... 8 trials, I think? That's not very much. I'm opinionated! but I'm not overly experienced with agility.

 

2-) I took my 10 year old deaf boston through agility course there was this woman there who decided that her dog didn't like to be wrong and was being 'stubborn' when she started refusing to do things after being told she was wrong. The dog was shut down. LIke the dog was standing there, miserable, showing stress signals and just not wanting to try again. That kind of situation makes me sad. Probably makes everyone sad, but it also really, really makes me want to avoid being that person. I know you don't do that but just. Sad.

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I run into people like that, too, and it makes me sad, and of course I don't want to be that person, either.

 

But I also run into people saying things to their dogs like, "you have a terrible handler". And that makes me sad, too. The idea of "it's all the handler" does lead to some people failing to develop confidence in themselves. If a person gets the idea that he or she is never going to be good enough because they blame themselves for every little thing that goes wrong . . . that's just not good. And also . . . it's not entirely true.

 

Maybe it was the lesson Speedy taught me. That boy was a mess. I never knew what I was going to have in the ring with him. And handling and training couldn't do a whole lot to change much about him! I had to accept him 100%, complete with fear, overstimulation, and . . . creativity!!

 

Had I blamed myself for everything about him, I would have quit dog sports immediately and gone into gardening or something!!

 

And don't think I am blaming him - he was the best thing that ever happened to me. He was a college education.


But he also was who and what he was, and although I changed the world for him, I also did very little in a way!!

 

So, I hear people getting down on themselves because "it's all the handler" and then they stall out.

 

That's not good, either.


That's why I like to view it as a both/and, "we're a team", give and take. It's not all me. It's not all my dog. We are in it together. Sometimes one of is us "off", and it might be me or it might be the dog. Sometimes one of us makes a mistake, and it could be either of us.

 

But of course I hate to see it when people come down hard on their dogs for things they caused. I just think there might be a better answer to that problem than the current "it's all the handler" idea . . . An answer that fosters mutual respect for both the dog and the human parts of the team.

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CptJack your agility journey with Kylie is a great example to people that with a lot of patience and time so many dogs can learn how fun the game is. Looking forward to reading about how things progress.

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I see so many bcs in particular blamed for insisting on repeating a "wrong" behaviour. It's what they are and what they do. If you choose a dog that is bred for obsessive behaviour that's what you get.

 

A finger twitch out of place or time of which the handler is oblivious can start it. Give the dog the benefit of the doubt rather than assuming it has made a "mistake", which is after all a very human concept. We don't know how our dogs perceive our clumsy attempts to communicate.

 

If your dog repeats the same unwanted pattern two or three times persisting isn't going to break it. Change the pattern.

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I find it more beneficial to cultivate an attitude of total acceptance of, and appreciation for, my dog - imperfections and all - who has acceptance of, and appreciation for me - imperfections and all - than to think in terms of "blame" at all. We are a team of mutually imperfect beings who are striving, together, to be the best we can - as a team. Sometimes there are things I need to work on. Sometimes there are things I need to help my dog work on. And sometimes one or the other just messes up, and it happens and it is done, and we move on and it's no big deal.

 

That keeps me from obsessing over trying to make myself faultless, when I really cannot be, and my dogs seem to thrive under that framework.

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I know the words are loaded. I do know *one* handler who would do with the ability to loosen up a little about the pressure she places on herself, but honestly I don't think that saying 'the dog is just making a mistake' would help that - at all. In fact, I'm pretty danged sure it wouldn't. Since the pressure she applies to herself isn't about agility in general, it's everything, everywhere.

 

The reality is, this 'it's handler error' doesn't remove the heavy, heavy culture of 'they're dogs, things happen' and 'it's a game you play with the dog, not solving world hunger'. Maybe, maybe, if you get up far enough or are playing in a high intensity setting, but that's not where *I* at least am playing. I have had judges CHEER FOR ME for throwing Qs under the bus to save the dog before she stressed. The overriding attitude is 'better happy than correct' to the degree that it's turned into some kind of mantra for most of us because we hear it a LOT - from everyone, everywhere - and it applies to the people as well as the dogs.

 

And honestly? if you are going to have perfectionist tendencies and stress, you're better off keeping it to yourself than putting it off onto your dog. You're a human. You have a higher order brain. You are responsible for your dog's confidence and happiness AND their performance. It's STILL all on you. You are a person. Your dog is your dog. You are setting the the tone all around. It is not, EVER, your dogs responsibility, even if they do make that rare mistake.


And if a mistake is made it probably IS the human in the equation on some level. NOT ALWAYS, clearly, but odds are high that it IS you. From the dog you're using, to your handling, to your training, to your proofing, to your training methods, whatever. The dog is a dog.

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The reality is, this 'it's handler error' doesn't remove the heavy, heavy culture of 'they're dogs, things happen' and 'it's a game you play with the dog, not solving world hunger'. Maybe, maybe, if you get up far enough or are playing in a high intensity setting, but that's not where *I* at least am playing. I have had judges CHEER FOR ME for throwing Qs under the bus to save the dog before she stressed. The overriding attitude is 'better happy than correct' to the degree that it's turned into some kind of mantra for most of us because we hear it a LOT - from everyone, everywhere - and it applies to the people as well as the dogs.

 

And for me, acknowledging that I am not the only member of the team who is capable of error leads me to that very conclusion. :)

 

Of course, I would rather be happy AND correct (and so would Tessa, for that matter!), but if correct goes out the window, then happy it is!! :D

 

 

And honestly? if you are going to have perfectionist tendencies and stress, you're better off keeping it to yourself than putting it off onto your dog. You're a human. You have a higher order brain. You are responsible for your dog's confidence and happiness AND their performance. It's STILL all on you. You are a person. Your dog is your dog. You are setting the the tone all around. It is not, EVER, your dogs responsibility, even if they do make that rare mistake.

 

I still disagree! My dogs are individuals. They do, to some extent, make their own choices. Very often - in a performance context - those choices are in line with what I would want them to be. Sometimes they aren't.

 

I think I've said this before, but I believe that I actually have more respect for my dogs (than I would otherwise, not in reference to anyone else) because I regard them as fallible. That means that every time they are spot on, the dog actually brought something of his or herself into that success. It could have gone differently - even if my training/support/handling/etc. were perfect.

 

I look at it this way: it's not "all me" when we get it right. So, it's not necessarily "all me" when we don't get it right (often it is - definitely . . . buuuuuut . . . not always!). It's a team effort.

 

But what seems to be getting lost here is that I don't consider the fact that dogs do make mistakes to be a negative. I just consider it to be a reality. One that it helps me to acknowledge.

 

And I don't use that as a reason to impose a negative consequence on my dog. I don't have negative emotions about a dog making a mistake. If anything, it makes me appreciate the times when we manage to get it right with far more appreciation.

 

I also tend to have a very healthy sense of humor about these kinds of things. :D

 

I guess I would say that someone who can't refrain from assessing "blame", from imposing negative consequences, or spewing negative emotions probably should direct it onto themselves.

 

But, I also think that most people actually are capable of refraining from doing those things if they have a mind to. Which is where I think this topic really does merit some closer consideration.

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I just really don't understand how the heck you're getting 'the dog must be infallible' from any of this. If a mistake is made on the course, it's probably your handling or training on some level. None of that removes seeing the dog as fallible or as some kind of perfectly performing machine.


Honestly, yes. The dog makes decisions. The dog decides to play or not, from the start. The dog decides if it's going to listen or sniff the grass or bark at the judge, the dog decides where to take off from a jump, but if there's a mistake in performance of most things?

I'm sorry and I'm not likely to change my mind and know you're not: The mistake is yours. In your training, in your cross, in reading your dog and going into the ring with a stressed/distracted/unready dog, in the line you drew or the cross you opted to use.

 

Yours. Not the dog's. Dog's a dog. Dog can make decisions all day long, but it's a dog and you're a human and the responsibility for the dog is on YOU. When my kids were 2 they could make decisions too, but I was still responsible for them and the options they had available to them and their behavior and actions, knowing the decision they are likely to make, and setting them up for success.

 

And if they did something cockeyed and 'wrong' - still my issue because I'm an adult.

 

Same thing only more because it's a DOG. They are NOT responsible for themselves. Tell yourself what you want, I'm not angry, whatever mental trick gets you through, but that is what it is. Even if the dog makes the most cockeyed mistake in the world and goes chasing butterflies because they decided to, the responsibliity for that decision by the dog? Yours.


Also I'm kind of done with this conversation now since we're both going in circles. That's not a 'don't reply' thing (that's dumb,and I'm not angry or upset anyway) just an 'unless something new comes to the table I"ll likely wander off until I have a new update'.

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I just really don't understand how the heck you're getting 'the dog must be infallible' from any of this. If a mistake is made on the course, it's probably your handling or training on some level. None of that removes seeing the dog as fallible or as some kind of perfectly performing machine.

 

In claiming that the mistake is yours, always yours, that would mean that the dog is infallible. Incapable of his or her own error.

 

To say that a mistake made on course is always your training, your handling, your judgment - then the dog is infallible.

 

And that's where I can't agree.

 

From my experience and my observation, I have to maintain that the dogs themselves do misjudge (distances, approaches, etc.), misread even the most perfect of handling, have a "hiccup" in confidence that the handler would have had no way to anticipate, and, at times, do not perform at the level of their training, even though the handler could have the most reasonable expectation possible that the dog would.

 

And that is all perfectly OK. It's not blame. It's not being negative. It is simply seeing the picture in front of me.

 

 

 

 

 

I'm sorry and I'm not likely to change my mind and know you're not:

 

I think there we do agree - we are both pretty set in our points of view.

 

This is something that my dogs themselves have taught me. It is unlikely that I am going to unlearn it.

 

I would agree that - in the case of a very well trained dog, under reasonable circumstances, most mistakes on the Agility course do derive from handling errors.

 

But I also allow my dogs the respect of bringing themselves into the game, and sometimes that means the dog is capable of both brilliance and error, and everything in between! And I accept all of that 100%. And I consider that to be a very good thing.

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The flipside is this....When you assign an error to the dog, you are in effect saying that your handling, training, and conditioning program are perfect and can't possibly have contributed to the error and that you can say with 100% certainty that the dog is sound.

 

The more I do this, the more I realize what I do not know. 6 months ago, I may have assigned some errors to the dog. Now, I know better.

 

And you know, if my dog crashes a jump because there is a shadow on the field or slips on wet grass or leaves (been there, done that), it is still my responsibility because I put him in the car and drove him to the agility facility.

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The flipside is this....When you assign an error to the dog, you are in effect saying that your handling, training, and conditioning program are perfect and can't possibly have contributed to the error and that you can say with 100% certainty that the dog is sound.

 

I disagree with that.

 

In acknowledging that dogs do make mistakes, I am saying that at times the handling is spot on, the training is sufficiently fluent, and the dog is in appropriate condition - yes - and that the dog still responds incorrectly. (In exactly the same way I might make a wrong turn on course even though I analyzed it sufficiently, walked it enough, and was actually prepared to run it properly).

 

Why would we, as humans, make random mistakes even when we do prepare properly, and dogs not ever do that?

 

I would not go so far as to claim "perfect" for any of it.

 

In fact, that is my very point - neither the dog nor the handler are perfect. Both make mistakes at times.

 

 

The more I do this, the more I realize what I do not know. 6 months ago, I may have assigned some errors to the dog. Now, I know better.

 

I would definitely agree that it's a learning process. And I am not claiming to be incapable of failing to recognize handling errors at times. That's why I usually go back and look at video - and have my instructor watch it. And sometimes she does see things I don't. And then at other times, we both see it loud and clear - the handling was right, it is something Tessa is more than capable of doing . . . and she just zigged when she should have zagged.

 

My only point, really, is . . . it happens.

 

And I don't consider the fact that it happens to be a negative.

 

And you know, if my dog crashes a jump because there is a shadow on the field or slips on wet grass or leaves (been there, done that), it is still my responsibility because I put him in the car and drove him to the agility facility.

 

I disagree with that logic entirely. If you had no reasonable expectation that such a thing was likely to happen, it was an accident, pure and simple.

 

Why assess "blame" there? What purpose does it serve? Does it help build up your relationship with your dog? Does it help you become a better handler?

 

If not, I would consider assessing "blame" to be the actual problem right there.

 

I guess . . . a unique perspective.

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I dunno, I'm pretty prepared to say if I forget the course or make a wrong time I either did not in fact spend enough time walking it, opted to have a conversation between walking the course and running it, or there was an element of me not handling stress well in play that compromised my memory.

 

In fact there is usually a reason for me flubbing things up, and that may be 'didn't get enough sleep', 'opted to chit-chat while course walking or immediately after' or 'had to pee' or 'wasn't prepared for X, Y, or Z', 'over worried about one part of the course, didn't think enough about the rest', or whatever else but it's not like there is no identifiable cause.

 

That's me, though.

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Why assess "blame" there? What purpose does it serve? Does it help build up your relationship with your dog? Does it help you become a better handler?

 

If not, I would consider assessing "blame" to be the actual problem right there.

 

Blame = Responsibility, we've been over that part. Responsibility is less loaded, but it is still what I mean - and most mean - when they discuss it.

 

The purpose it serves is that it keeps me working to be better as a team without putting pressure on my dog. Because I'm the only one making decisions, issuing commands, and calling shots and determining what happens in training and what the dog learns. It means the dog can do no wrong and that builds her confidence *enormously* and keeps pressure entirely off.

 

Because if it's my responsibility, it's within my control one way or another - it is neither worrying about the dog making a mistake or some random thing impacting me/my dog that I will then have to worry about and have zero control over preventing happening again - and truth? I do. Including 'not running on wet grass' and 'be aware of shadows'. It actually keeps more pressure off me than believing some random thing happened, that way.

 

Does it help me build up my relationship with my dog? YOU BET YOUR BUTT IT DOES. *ENORMOUSLY*. The dog's happier, I'm happier, I'm happier with my dog, and we're both having more fun.

 

Ditto me being a better handler. If I am willing to ever say 'eh, things happened the dog just did something wrong' then I am no longer looking for a reason, no longer looking to make that less likely through training. I'm just accepting that the thing went wrong, the dog made a mistake, and nothing I can do about it. Nothing to work on. Just a thing.

 

Nah. What I'm doing works in all the ways for me. The rest of it sounds damaging *to me*. For me as a handler, for my dog's comfort and happiness, and for the relationship between us.

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Let us not forget my personal favorite for my screw-ups: "My head is up my ass" Which generally means distracted by life, work, etc

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