Do what makes you happy! That is my motto in agility, training and nutrition. One of my biggest pet peeves, in agility or feeding dogs is people who say ” you have to do it this way”. I am all for trying new things and I encourage those who attend my seminars to give new things a try but if it doesn’t make you all happy and shiny inside then it is probably not the right path for you. I see this over and over again in seminars, I ask a student why they are teaching their dogs to do a 2o2o contact , or using left and right for directionals etc etc, and their answer is ” my instructor says I have to” so I ask them ” do you like doing it?” and the answer is usually “no……”
If you aren’t happy, then what you are training your dog doesn’t come through as well as teaching something that really makes you happy and look forward to each training session. Like I said I think everyone should give something new a whirl but if it doesn’t make you happy and shiny then do what does make you happy.
I taught Nargles weave poles completely different then how I taught my previous dogs, but I really enjoyed the method and how I taught it and I couldn’t wait for each training session. Which showed through with Nargles, she loved learning the weave poles and loves how happy it makes me, which in turn makes her happy.
Which brings me to Nargles contacts…. I have taught her all four on the board, but in the last 6 months or so of training and trailing I can see that four on the board just isn’t “doing” it for her. I honestly do not believe she is being a bad dog and not stopping ( she will either give me a 2o2o or a running) I really don’t think that doing all four on the board makes her happy. So after watching her runs that I have had videoed and talking about it with friends I am going to start looking at her contact performance and adjusting it to make both her and I happy. I am a firm believer that life is to short to argue, and I don’t want to force her into a contact position that is either not making her happy physically or mentally, so I will work with her over the next couple months to find something that works for us as a team.
So when you go train, ask yourself; am I happy and shiny inside? Does my dog look happy? Because agility is about happy and you both as a team should be grinning from ear to ear! Even if, just like what I am doing with Nargles, you have to change something, you will be thankful in the long run.
I have the same set of beliefs when it comes to canine nutrition, there are so many different methods and ideas about what to feed our dogs that you could spend your entire life researching the subject. I recently gave a short lecture at one of the NADAC camps about how I feed my dogs and why I do the things I do with them. It was amazing to listen to the feedback after the seminar from people who didn’t know that it really is okay to add some fresh veggies to their dogs kibble or throw an egg in every once in a while. Canine nutrition is a hot topic, and a very personal subject, everyone wants to do right by their dogs, so when a person is feeding method A and they hear someone saying that they feed method B; the method A people can get defensive, they want to validate that what they are feeding their dogs is the absolute best.
I stand in the middle, I am all about doing what works for you and your dog and what makes you happy. If you are happy feeding kibble and that is what works for you then keep doing it! If you read an article about feeding fresh foods and you would like to add some veggies to your dogs food once a week, go for it! I feed my dogs a combo of raw and cooked, when I travel they get kibble. I am happy doing this, it makes me feel good. I don’t think that I am a “better” dog owner because I feed cooked/raw its just what I like to do. Honestly, some of the saddest stories I have heard is in regards to nutrition, people who feel they need to hide the fact they feed kibble because it is “bad” compared to feeding raw or cooked. People do what they feel is best for their dog and also what they have the time/money to be able to do. If you are feeding kibble and are thinking about trying homemade, try half and half for a while and see how that works for you, if you really like it then you can go full time homemade, and if after 2 weeks you decide it isn’t going to work out there is nothing wrong with going back to kibble.
Do what makes you happy! If you aren’t happy with a training method you are using or the dog food you are feeding, sit down and think about what works for you and your dog, life is to short to not be happy.