Some time ago I wrote a post about cross training, basically stating the position that I have chosen to train multiple sports for various good reasons, in spite of the fact that training for and competing in multiple sports with multiple dogs results in being a little "all over the place" with all of it.
This winter I got to experience something very different with Tessa. We focused solely on one sport. We trained for one sport, we competed in one sport - Agility. Yes, we dabbled in the Cyber Rally-O Dance Divisions a bit, but we really didn't put anything into it. We showed up at the building, shot our video, and went on with life. All of our training time and energy went into Agility.
I really didn't make a deliberate choice to do this. Tessa and I had been struggling in both Rally FrEe and WCFO Freestyle because Tessa is not a verbal dog. She loves to be directed through body language. I had tried, diligently, to make responding to verbal cues a fun thing for Tessa, but in the end we crashed and burned. Continually trying to shove a square peg into a round hole over and over will sometimes lead to a good crash and burn! Tessa and I got ourselves there.
So, I dropped out of Rally FrEe with Tessa, and Bandit took over her spot in the class. There are no WCFO competitions until June, so we aren't really working with Freestyle. So, we were left with Agility. Weekly Agility classes, and lots and lots of competitions, throughout the winter.
And I noticed two things . . .
First, Tessa is MUCH happier. She doesn't mind doing some Freestyle for fitness and fun. I still have her do her spins and twirls and leg weaves and pivot platform and some heeling and side work at home just to keep the skills fresh, and to keep her flexible, but I am no longer pushing the verbal cues.
Any real training that we are doing is Agility related. She thinks that's a party!
And if we pack up the car and go to a competition, it's Agility. She lights up like a Christmas tree every time we pull into the parking lot at Periland! She knows what we are there for and she is delighted.
Second, our Agility is improving! Tessa's weave poles are getting faster, her jumping skills have sharpened back up, and she is just doing a nicer job overall. Usually when we mess up in competition now, it is a handling error.
Just for the fun of it, I am having her do some of the foundation exercises that Bandit is working on for his online foundation class. Check out how much pleased she is with this . . .
I would not go so far as to say I won't do anything except Agility with her. I still enjoy working on Freestyle with her for fun, and I'd like to try more of the patterns with her. And I would like to do more Cyber Rally-O this coming summer. That will be good, since Tessa can struggle with the heat at times.
But right now she really is a one sport dog. And I am finding it, to my surprise, to be very good.
Just 45 Q's to go for our C-ATCH!! It's enough to be working toward.
And Tessa clearly approves!