Ever noticed how everything in life done well has a conflicting entity to it… just look at sports…. Martial arts for example as the conflict between absolute discipline against aggression, tennis has the conflict between the chaos of a bouncing ball and the blistering accuracy with which it can be hit into a specific point on the court… or a sprinter hurtling down a track appearing to be a blur, yet their technique and motion is smooth as silk…
Dog sports is no different.
Agility has the conflict between speed and accuracy, IGP drive and control and tracking has a dog to ignore their natural desires and focus on the scent of a specific person. Its really quite incredible what we ask of our dogs.
Well, Competitive obedience is absolutely an illustration of beautiful conflict.
You want your to work with enthusiasm and desire, yet be deadly accurate in every movement. You want them to hold a very specific physical position, yet appear free and flowing… have power and want in their being, yet be completely focused and thoughtful. It is a complete battle between two sides! Ying and Yang!
Obedience is often perceived as the more ‘stiff and proper’ alternative to other dog sports, but this is a misconception I hope to dispel.
See, the sport requires absolutely motivation and desire from the dog in order to achieve the picture of unison and togetherness.
Like so many things, you ‘can’ do it without… but anyone with an untrained eye can see the difference!
Every nuance of each skill has to be broken down, motivated and then stitched together in a intricate and delicate tapestry of dog behaviour and skill to create a picture that is simply breathtaking! The feeling of connection and synchronisation, as you change speed, manoeuvre turns, weaves, circles or patterns on the ground all test your focus as well as the dogs, but the sense of accomplishment is ten fold! I won’t lie, and say it’s ‘easy’, as it takes time and dedication… but the rewards are extensive.
I love it. I have taken part in Obedience for over 30yrs and reached the dizzy heights of Crufts, and helped countless others realise their dreams and ambitions in the process. Their success has given me so much pride and joy, I can’t put the feelings into words.
Beyond the ‘academic’ successes, Obedience has ‘provided’ for me a ‘family’ and kinship that have seen me through the highs and lows that life can provide… my daughter sees my ‘obedience family’ as her family….
Obedience is SO accessible, you can train it anywhere and everywhere, with minimal equipment, and space. So in that light, it is ‘easy’.
All the exercises have a great balance of control and desire… Heelwork in itself is a balancing act between dog and handler, where the slightest weight shift or head movement can alter the picture drastically… a test of concentration and focus… retrieve, and send away test desire and accuracy of speed, body and self control… and distance control is the ultimate example of stimulus control… 6 position changes in any order, at a distance… with distractions and temptation all around… it really is ‘WOW’ when you see it done! I can still recall the first time I ever saw a dog complete this exercise, I was in awe!! Convinced this was the thing of witchcraft, or robotic engineering! LOL. It still has me marvelled when seen completed well!
There are so many myths and fallacy’s about obedience, which I hope to set straight!
On the 1st November, join me for a week of LIVES talking ‘Obedience’… you’ll be able to join me for sessions to get you started and the MOST important skill you can teach any sports dog! Just go to my Facebook page, and click LIKE to be notified of any LIVES!
For now, enjoy your dogs!