Energetic Glens and Agility
By Michelle Du Bois
under the watchful eye of Briarhill Amanda CD, MX, OAP, AXJ, OJP, AD, PII, JS-N, RS-F, GS-N, EAC, OJC, TN-O, TG-O, OGC, JS-N, RS-E, GS-N, CL3-S, RL1
When I got my first Glen, I discovered that she had a higher level of energy than I expected. I have since discovered that there seem to be two basic types of Glens – the high energy ones, and the couch potatoes. Granting that all Glens have both potentials within them, each one seems to have a natural proclivity toward one mode or the other.
The issue for me became what to do with that energy. I discovered the sport of dog agility. She was much too young to begin jumping around on her tender young joints, so I gave obedience a go. She hated it. Still, in all, she wanted to do what I asked of her and I give her a lot of respect for the effort. Eventually we found our way to Rally-O and fared a bit better. We also joined play groups and earned a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title while we waited for her body to develop.
Since I am retired, she went everywhere with me and did everything that I did – the day after I brought her home, we delivered horses all over three states. She would get short potty breaks at each stop and then back in the truck for the next leg of the journey. Consequently, she has never had a problem behaving in a vehicle or in going new places. I think she truly believes that everything is just a new opportunity for her to meet people who will pet her and spoil her a bit. The time we spent in close proximity provided the opportunity for us to get to know each other pretty well. She never got a chance to misbehave and training was more a matter of letting her know what I thought she should or should not do rather than a correction for misbehavior.
So, finally, the time came for us to begin our agility training. I stumbled around, bought MANY books purporting to show me how to train my own dog to the agility sport. Some of them even showed me how to save money on equipment. Nowhere did I find anything that really understood that neither my dog nor I had the faintest clue what we were doing.
My Glen was not a food motivated dog, but tried the obstacles for the pleasure of hearing me get really excited when she got it right. Although she is a lot more motivated by food now, she still does better if people are cheering her on.
My Glen does not have a gentle mouth and tugging with her can cause major bruises on one’s hands. We have compromised on an occasional bruised hand in exchange for some quality, rather than quantity, tug play times as a reward.
My Glen is focused on an agility or obedience course and I attribute that to the time we spend together as companions. That relationship is probably the most important aspect of our agility successes. And those agility successes strengthen the bond in return.
I recommend to anyone with a Glen puppy who wants to dabble, or even compete, in agility, to:
• Go take a beginner course. The PC term around here is “foundation” course.
• Find someone who likes your dog and that you like.
• Find someone who understands that not all dogs benefit from the same training styles, reinforcements, rewards, and methods.
• Find someone who recognizes that not everyone wants the same thing out of the sport.
• Figure out what you want and find someone to help you decide if that goal is reasonable with your dog.
• Then have fun.
A couple of don’ts, although I mostly believe in dos:
• Don’t try and do everything by yourself, you will reinvent the wheel.
• Don’t feel that you have to spend lots of money over a long period of time on organized training. You just have to get the help to get started and then an occasional reinforcement when you need help with a new challenge.
• Don’t have a professional train your dog for you – you will miss the best parts.