People who know me, also know that i LOVE moving waits! Both my dogs Nargles and Try are taught moving waits right at the beginning of their agility career. I use them almost all the time, training and trialing both.

A moving wait is great for building confidence in dogs as well as working on impulse control for dogs who need that as well.

I play the wait game with both Nargles and Try all the time, when i first started it i train them alone first and then start working them together.

Before i start playing this game with them i want to make sure they both fully understand what “wait” means.

You will also see in the clip that i release both of the dogs with their names, i do this so that i don’t end up with both the dogs releasing when i say “Okay”.  They know to go get the toy when they hear their name.

I started teaching a moving wait to both Nargles and Try when they were puppies, along with the other TEAM training games, it started teaching them confidence skills as well as impulse control.

Currently in the works at Fluid Motion Agility is a mini series covering how i teach the moving wait, the mini series will be available to everyone through the Fluid Motion Youtube channel.

In the meantime i have uploaded a clip talking about a game that i use in my TEAM Training program and is also one of the ways i use my moving wait to teach impulse control.


Train, Play, Repeat!

Most of the time when i ask people “how long do you train for?” i get lots of different answers, some may have short training sessions that only last 5-10 mins once a day and others may have longer training sessions that last 30 minutes with short breaks during the session.  The length of a training session depends greatly on the dog and the handler both. I have seen some dogs do better with longer sessions and i have also seen some people do better with short sessions, so the amount of time that you spend training each day depends on both handler and dog.


The one thing i have found that works well for most all dogs (and handlers) is short burst training sessions.

 A short burst training session is a certain amount of time spent training, followed by that same amount of time spent playing.  In most cases i spend between 1-2 minutes training and then i spend 1-2 minutes playing with my dog. I do this for pretty much all of my training sessions, doesn’t matter what i am working on. I will do about 3 reps of this; so 1-2 mins of work, 1-2 mins of play, and repeat that series twice.  So the dog ends up doing a working session 3 times and a play session three times.


For what i have seen with my dogs and students dogs is that it keeps the dog’s (and the handler’s for that matter) mind fresh, a lot of times during training the dog works really well in the beginning of the session but towards the end you sometimes either end up with a dog who seems to be going through the motions but not really engaged or a dog who starts to lose motivation and drive. This can happen even with a short 5 min session, but when breaking up you training session into 1-2 minute intervals with play in-between it gives your dog’s brain a chance to reset and not start to shut down or go into auto pilot.

 The play time spent with your dog can be anything that your dog likes doing, but don’t make it into another “fun” training session, like asking your dog to do tricks etc etc. It needs to be actual play, something that your dog can just have fun doing and not have to think about.

 I do all of my training this way and i have noticed a huge difference in not only my dogs attitude but also in how well they retain the exercise i am teaching. I have also noticed that i train much better with the shorter intervals as well.


The secret to my success

First lets define “success”,  everyone has a different idea of what success means to them. For some it may be earning a title, winning a championship, running a course clean or just getting past obstacle two. Just because one’s person’s idea of success may be to win the championships doesn’t mean that the other person’s “successful” run of getting past obstacle four is any less of an achievement.


Sometimes in agility we lost sight of what this sport is, having fun with our dogs.  But lets get real, its nice to win, its fun to Q. That doesn’t mean that we should all go hardcore and push our dog past their limits for the sake of a qualifying run.  In my perfect world people would have fun with their dogs in every run and Q every now and then too.


Sometimes it seems in the agility world there are two groups of people those who “just want to have fun with their dogs”  and “those who what X, Y or Z title”


The “i just wanna have fun group” will at times attack the “title group”,  and then the “title group” will come back at the “fun” group.


Why can’t we all just get along?!


I just wanna have fun, and I would like to Q every now and then as well. I think we should combine the groups, I don’t think there is anything wrong with someone wanting to Q, and i think the whole point of this sport is to have fun. So i say, let get together people!


So then the other side of this is if we wanna have fun with each run then we need to Q with each run.  As awesome as this sounds, i honestly think it would get pretty boring, for me part of the fun of training dogs for agility is fine tuning our skills. If i got a Q every time i ran then i would have nothing to work on at home, i like going to a trial and seeing a couple things that i need to work on either for myself or with my dog, then testing out that skill in the next trial.


A criteria has to be in place in order to set goals for yourself, and yes sometimes that criteria can be difficult and some handlers and dogs may have a harder time then others reaching it.


My dog Mardi was a fun dog to run and to train, she was born with one eye so there were things i did differently with her then what i did with my other dogs. Mardi had a terrible time with weave poles, she wasn’t to bad as long as she could see me, but if i was on her blind side more then likely she would pop out and then go really slow the second time through.  So some courses were very hard for us if there wasn’t a nice way for me to switch sides for her in the weave poles.


My goal with Mardi was to earn her NATCH, we earned that and i set my next goal of a Versatility NATCH.  That meant having to do Weavers, lots of Weavers…..   And it was a long road and a hard one, but i didn’t want the criteria for Weavers to change,  Was it difficult? Yes.  Was it an amazing accomplishment when she finally earned it? Oh heck yes.


During my time trying to earn Mardi’s Versatility NATCH, i did realize that we may not get it. Did it make my runs with Mardi any less special or fun? Nope.  I would keep plugging away at it and maybe modify my goals to earning 50 points in Weavers instead of the Versatility NATCH and when she got that; then adjust my goals again.


So i didn’t set goals for Mardi i knew she had no hope of meeting, I didn’t set out to earn Top Weavers Dog of the Year,  could i set my goal for Top Tunnelers Dog or maybe Jumpers?  Sure! We were pretty good at those two classes!



To me it is no different then the high school track star,  just because they are awesome in high school doesn’t mean they will be able to win the Olympics.


So my idea of success is different for each dog i run.  Some may not have the same “success” as other dogs, some may never earn the titles that other dogs of mine have earned. That doesn’t change my view of what the criteria should be and it doesn’t change how much i love running with my dogs and how special each and every Q i get is.


Mardi would never have been able to do the bonus line stuff that Try is doing. That doesn’t make Try a “better” dog, it doesn’t make the titles that Try earns any bigger or better then what Mardi earned. Try just has a different set of goals and different successes then what Mardi had.


My overall goal for all of my dogs each and every run is to walk in the ring and handle the best i can and go out there and defeat that course.


Oh, and to not tip and fall……. that would be my other goal………

Walk away man….Just walk away

Frustration.  Its that dirty word in agility that no one wants to talk about. Trainers don’t get frustrated with dogs while training, if a dog isn’t learning something; then us as the patient beings that we are should help our dogs through their issues with a smile on our face.  Well, that doesn’t happen for everyone. We are human! We get frustrated!  The key to training a dog is knowing when to walk away.

Nargles is teaching me all kinds of new things about frustration. 😀   She is much different to train then Try and i am working through things that i never had to deal with when training Try. For example, my 17″ Border Collie takes a country mile to make a turn, this is something that i am currently training with her. And not only does she not want to turn but she likes to scream when i do make her turn, which i am not real fond of the ear piercing noise when trying to work her.  So do i get frustrated? yes….. oh yes…….

So what do you do?  Simple answer, walk away.   Most people have a hard time keeping a calm look on their face and in their body language when they are frustrated, your mind may be telling you to be calm but your body will be doing otherwise.

So for example i was doing some pinwheel work with Nargles, and she was just not getting it, i know i need to walk away but she hasn’t ended on a good note, which is how i end every training session. So instead of trying to do the pinwheel again and hoping we can get it right, i took her over to a set of three hoops that i was working Try’s “Go” exercise on, i let her do three nice and easy hoops; told her how awesome she was and went in the house.

I gave her and myself some time to cool off, and we went back out to the pinwheel of doom later that evening, and what do ya know! She hammered it!

Sometimes dogs (just like people)  will learn things faster if you just let them walk away and process it. I never let them end on a bad note, i always let them do something else and be successful and then i will let them stop.

Being frustrated isn’t bad, but sometimes it comes across in the agility world that if you are a “good” trainer you are never frustrated and you have the patience of a saint.  Frustration becomes bad when trainers don’t know what is happening and continue to drill the dogs, my golden rule is if they get is wrong 3 times in a row, step away and took a look at yourself, your dog and the exercise, end on a good note and let everything cool off.  Then when you come back that evening or the next day you and your dog both are coming at it with a fresh mind.

Just always remember when to walk away.

Is it okay to change your mind?

For the past few days I have been starting Nargles on her weave poles,  i had trained Try using sets of four poles with wires on them, so that is how i started with Nargles.  As i was watching my video clips of her weaving i wasn’t liking the way she kept following the panels instead of focusing on the poles, as i started to move the wires away i found she was getting frustrated and confused because she was more focused on the wires then the poles themselves.

So i spent the day staring at my set of weave poles,  willing them to tell me what i should be doing with them.  I love clicker work and love watching the dogs learn so i decided i want to free shape Nargles through the poles.  I started her with just two poles and at this stage she is just running through two poles. As i progress i will bring in another two poles, what i am planning on doing will be a variation of Susan Garrett’s 2×2 method with my own spin that will work for my dogs.

I think i will also run Try through the steps with Nargles as well,  she already has pretty decent poles but it never hurts for an older dog to run through the basics and have some fun. (and lots of treats!)

So after i finally made up my mind (which can be quite an event…)  i thought to myself  “is it okay to change your mind?”   It seemed really hard for me to change mid stream so to speak, like it was against some unspoken rule.  But i knew deep down that using the wires with Nargles was not going to work like i wanted it to, that doesn’t make the wires a bad training tool, just not the right one for her.

So even though i changed pretty early for her, she had only done the weave poles with the wires perhaps 3 times, what if it had been more? What if i had done it for months? Would it still be okay to change?  Yes. absolutely, whole heartedly, beyond a shadow of a doubt. YES.

I see many dogs who struggle with a training method or a certain performance on equipment (like contacts)  that would love to have their owners change mid stream. Not all training methods work for all dogs, and not the exact steps to a training method works for every dog.  modify it, change it and make it yours, make it work for you and your dog as a team.

So i am off to do some more free shaping with Nargles and my mind now knows after many hours of talking to itself, it really is okay to change.


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