Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's easier after your first dog

I haven't been showing much lately (as you can likely tell from my posts), but our club recently hosted its fall agility trial.  I hung out at the show for a while visiting my friends, then spent 1/2 day as a transcriber (my favorite job at an agility trial, as one can serve an official function whilst also watching the competition).  This gave me time to chat, then sit around and think.  This is sometimes a dangerous combination if you're a person like me who likes to think, ponder, and mull.

So where am I going with this, and what's with the title of this blog post, anyway?

Well, I was chatting with a woman I met at a recent seminar (she has a pem, so she and I naturally got to know each other).  I asked her how the trial was going for her and she said that she wasn't competing - her dog wasn't ready yet.  She was having some struggles and she commented to me that this was the first dog she's trained in agility - and the first one is always the hardest - it gets easier after that.

Hmmm.... That doesn't exactly hold true for me.  Maggie was much easier to train than Ziggy is.  Much easier.  Sometimes with Ziggy I wonder how I even taught him to sit.

My reply to her was that this principle was not holding true for me.  Ziggy was #3 and my hardest dog yet.  I realize now that this was probably not the most encouraging thing to say to a dog training newbie, but then there's a reason I'm not a life coach.

Then I started to think about the comment.  Was it true?  Is the first dog the hardest?  Should the going be easier with Ziggy?

After much (probably too much) reflection - here's where I've landed:

1 - I was spoiled with my first dog.  She was (and still is) easy to train.

2 - If I didn't have such an easy dog first, I may not have become a dog training aficionado.

3 - There ARE things - in fact quite a few things - that are easier after the first dog.  Such as:  

  • I now know the "lingo" and can understand what performance (i.e.: agility, rally & obedience) folks are saying
  • I know how to walk a course - in rally and agility both
  • I know the agility, obedience & rally regulations - most of them, anyway :)
  • I know how to fill out an entry form to enter a trial
  • I know all the stuff I have to take with me to trials in order for my dogs and I to be relaxed and comfortable
  • I know the difference between bronze, silver, gold & platinum treats and I'm getting better at deploying each strategically
  • I'm more coordinated and clear with my commands (and always trying to get better!)
  • I know what the finished product should look like (be it a rear cross on an agility course or a lovely, quick, straight front)
  • I have experienced that link with your dog that happens when both of you are "in the zone" and working together really well
  • I know good when I've got it
Yeah, in some ways it did get easier after my first dog.


  1. I don't necessarily agree that it should get easier after the first, but I guess ifwe are smart, maybe we learn from our mistakes we made on our "A" dog. Those "A" dogs are special - because you only get one!

  2. Each dog is different - I would just like to think that I'm getting better as I go along. Ziggy's making me think that's not true!


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