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Oops! I Did it Again: Troubleshooting Your Agility Training

February 12

2:00 pm PT

This talk is eligible for CEUs from: IAABC, KPA


Why did they do that?! Training dog agility requires one to wear many hats. Between our handling mechanics, obstacle training and arousal management, it can be difficult to step back and assess what happens when errors occur, much less how to fix it! In this webinar, a flowchart is presented to help handlers diagnose issues when unexpected errors come up during your agility practice. We will discuss why common errors happen, lay out troubleshooting protocols, and apply them to several case studies.

The proposed troubleshooting template can lessen frustration in both the human and dog by encouraging handlers to reframe their perspective of “mistakes”. It will also limit the number of repetitions necessary to accomplish your goals by building on success, not repeated failure.

While there are several factors one must consider before applying any problem-solving protocol, this template will provide handlers a process to self-assess and move through their training struggles in a positive way. Common handling errors that this process is best suited for are mistakes that happen spur of the moment during agility training, like:

  • Refusals
  • Wrong Courses
  • Wide turns
  • Dogs turning the wrong way

The process will always provide valuable feedback to the handler about why their dog is doing what they’re doing, and help prevent the same mistakes from happening in the future.

Rather than attempting the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome, students should strive to pause, take a moment to assess the situation, and learn from the mistake. The process will teach you to evaluate three key areas of your training:

  • How your reinforcement is impacting the dog’s behavior
  • How your handling/cues are impacting the dog’s behaviors
  • Which basic skills need to be on a more frequent maintenance schedule

And, we’ll cover when it’s a good idea to use props in our training and how to get back to the original agenda of the training session!

Presented By:

Megan Foster

Megan (she/her) has been training and competing in dog sports since she was five years old. With 23 years of experience under her belt, she’s seen a lot of growth in the sport of dog agility with regards to both training and handling. Throughout her career, she has developed innovative ways of teaching dog agility to both humans and dogs alike. While she has a long list of accomplishments with her own dogs, she feels that the accomplishments of her students say more about her ability to teach.

Megan strives to model for her students the ability to develop a trusting communication system built on success from the very first training session you have with your canine partner. She specializes in repairing broken relationships with teams on the agility course. She is able to see a handler’s skills as part of a bigger picture, an entire ecosystem, and how the dog feels about working with that handler. Through careful observation, she’s able to guide teams back to a place of mutual understanding and enjoyment of the game together.

Megan loves working with each individual team to meet their goals, because everyone’s goal is a big deal and should be treated as such. She is known for her unique approach to training agility to humans first, without their dogs, and focusing on fluency at each step of the way before moving on to complex sequences and coursework.