Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dear Agility Students

Things the agility instructor wishes she could say:


We need to get a few things clear before we continue.

Agility class has rules. I think some of you may have failed to notice this.

These rules are intended to make it so that, during class, you and your dog can have fun and learn together.

That being said, when I tell you that you need to keep your dog's attention focused on you,

I am not not talking to myself. I am also not forcing my vocal chords to make comprehensible sounds just because I am able to do so.

I am trying, dear students, to save your dogs life.

That's basically the short and the long of it.

Here Are the Rules:

  1. Your dog must look to you for direction. This means that he is not allowed to make up his own course or - God forbid - visit another dog. Use goodies or toys if you must. In fact, I encourage the use of them.
  2. Your dog is NOT ALLOWED to visit another dog. Would you like your dog to play with the dog beside him? That's great; do it on your own time. Not mine.
  3. If another dog makes the decision to rush your dog, and I tell you to move.... MOVE! Don't sit there and look at me like I'm an idiot while your dog is trying to eat another dog - and consequently almost eating me because I'm standing between the two. Just move your dog. Please.
  4. Going further with #3; I can keep the rushing dog from getting to your dog. I strategically place myself in the field so that, in the off chance that this happens, I can prevent a fight. MOVE. Thank you.
  5. Do not take equipment you are not told to take. If your dog has never gone up the Dog Walk and I tell you not to take him over the Dog Walk, it's because there is a serious potential for him to fall and injure himself. I'm not just saying no because I can. Really.
  6. Do not force your dog over any equipment. This creates fear issues and chances are, if you're taking class with us, you're paying us to help work out those same fear issues.
  7. Do NOT wear inappropriate shoes to my class. Yes, Barbie, flipflops are out.
  8. Follow all other directions you are given. This means that if I tell you to stop manhandling your dog, or if I ask you to redo a specific part of the course, please do so. You are paying me for a reason, and you must be open to constructive criticism and learning. 
  9. If you have a problem with any of the above-mentioned rules....

I have never had a dog fight in any of my classes.
I am structured to a fault - in order to prevent dog fight and in order to keep you and your dog safe.

While I am all about having fun in agility, I am more about keeping - yet again - you and YOUR DOG safe. And the dog beside you, and the dog beside him.....

At the end of the day, it's not about you. It's about your dog. I am your dog's advocate when you sometimes forget that Bad Things Can Happen.

Thank you.

The Agility Instructor.
Who, by the way, comes from a facility that specializes in basket-case dogs who would just love to eat yours. Honest. They aren't friendly, and yet we can get those dogs within 3ft of another dog, because we use structure and ...
We know what we are doing.
I reiterate. We know what we're doing. You're paying us because we know what we're doing. If you think you know better, that's great for you. Don't take my class.


  1. You know, I think our society got to the point where nobody is really allowed to say anything any more. Does that make things better? Actually it does not.

    I think that respect and civil manners are a great thing. But sometimes we take things so far that it really makes communication hard or impossible. And without clear communication, nobody is moving forward.

    Let's just be straight with each other, save ourselves the Boulogne and use that time doing something useful or fun.

  2. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to be this blunt and not deal with the drama afterward? Hahaha.
    Well, I'm thinking up some creative ways to rid my agility classes of these problems. I want to be direct about what they're doing wrong, but I want them to learn WHAT they're doing wrong and WHY it's wrong more...
    These guys go to doggie parks and stuff... so I think I'll try to set them up with some techniques to block rushing dogs and move theirs away safely...and explain why it's a good idea to do this while I'm showing them.
    That way, they can take it with them, rather than being pissed off at the "bitch" of an agility teacher.
    It's not about them, but it's not about me, either.
    Totally all about the dogs!
    TY for the comment!

  3. I dont do a lot of human/dog group classes but I've done a TON of classes for humans sans canines and you can actually say all these things. Secret? Say it with a smile on your face :-)

    As long as you know in your heart of hearts you're doing the right thing for everybody's good, your intentions are pure. So say exactly what you need to say, and say it with a smile.

    People cant be offended if you say it with a smile...try it :-)

  4. Say it with a smile....I'm going to try this. ^-^;;