Swift Dog Sports – Pitt Meadows, BC | www.swiftdogsports.com

Swift Dog Sports – Pitt Meadows, BC | http://www.swiftdogsports.com

Dog Agility Classes in Pitt Meadows http://www.swiftdogsports.com

Swift Dog Sports Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows Dog Agility

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Swift Dog Sports Agility } Pitt Meadows, BC } www.swiftdogsports.com

Swift Dog Sports Agility } Pitt Meadows, BC } http://www.swiftdogsports.com

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Swift Dog Sports Agility } Pitt Meadows, BC } http://www.swiftdogsports.com

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“”Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes” -Benjamin Franklin

2012 was a very busy year for us and now we’re full speed ahead in 2013!

ImageThis past weekend I took my dogs & some students came to a dog pool party we had (yes, they have swimming pools specifically for dogs in the Lower Mainland!)

Great fun was had by everyone.

Happy Training!

Tara LaBelle

Swift Dog Sports

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…Camping + Suitcase = stupid dog tricks ?

A wise old man once asked why I teach my dogs so many ridiculous tricks. Well, I’ll have a good answer for you in a couple of weeks … stay tuned to the blog for very exciting news!

This summer has just flown by! Other than the “big” agility events this summer, the dogs and I haven’t done a ton of competing. I’m not a big fan of the heat and getting up at 5:00am to drive to an agility trial some days isn’t that appealing 🙂  Viper had about 3 1/2 months off from competing at local agility trials. Instead of trialing, the dogs have had a great time swimming 4+ days a week & going on camping trips.

Any guesses on what Viper & I might be doing in the future? Check out the sneak preview below and leave your answer in the comments box!

Happy Training!
Tara LaBelle
Swift Dog Sports

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Agility Regional Preparation

With the upcoming big agility regional competition approaching I thought I would share some insight.

In reality I know I’m very lucky. You often hear people talk about those “once in a lifetime dogs” and certainly you could chalk Swift up as one of those 🙂 She’s a quirky little thing, and while she’s consistently done exceptionally well at regional & national events I’m still surprised that my dogs want to play this silly agility game with us.

I’m often amused by people suggesting that their lack of success at a local trial is because they’re going to reach the “peak” of their performance at a regional / national event. I certainly don’t look at the calendar and think, today’s the day of regionals; I’m going to flick a switch and things are going to turn into a peak performance.

I expect myself to perform at my optimal level IN THAT MOMENT, whether it’s a local trial with nothing on the line or a national title. There is no “on” switch button I push. If I’m not willing to fully commit myself mentally and physically in that moment of a run; I will not run my dog. Period.

For example, sometimes I will skip runs my dogs are entered in and we’ll go swimming instead 🙂 And yes, if you watch the video you’ll see Viper’s only way of getting into a perfectly flat entrance to a lake is to dive bomb like a maniac.

Happy Training!
Tara LaBelle
Swift Dog Sports

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…To the USA and back!!

Yes, I’m back for a quarterly blog post : )

I have some fun posts planned for the future on various topics; but those will have to wait.

My dog’s & I had a great start to 2012. We started off the year down in Auburn, WA at an American (USDAA) Dog Agility Trial. I enjoyed getting out of the province and competing against many exceptional dog’s down south. It’s always neat to meet different people and watch some amazing agility dog’s I don’t get to see on a regular basis.

Swift was outstanding and ended up winning 4 of the 5 classes she was entered in 🙂 I’m getting bugged by some of my students to post video so here it is:

My young dog, Viper & I are enjoying the journey as a new team. I love watching her confidence grow from trial to trial and I can see us starting to jell as a team. She picked up her last Starters Q’s this past weekend and is now trialing in all events at the advanced level.

Away from the agility course, the dog’s and I have taken up hiking on a regular basis and we’re looking forward to what the rest of 2012 has to offer 🙂

Swift & Viper waiting to tackle the trails.

Tara LaBelle

Swift Dog Sports

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If “Simon Says” there is only one way of doing something; would you do it that way?

We seem to live in a culture that supports obeying, not questioning. By thinking outside of the box and looking for creative solutions to your problems, you can improve your outcomes more than you can believe.

I started the sport of dog agility back in 1998. Since then, the sport has continued to evolve at a rapid pace and the training knowledge of dog agility handlers has drastically been increased. In today’s world, there are so many current cutting edge methods to train various skills in agility and I certainly hope that trend continues.

As a handler to my dogs, I believe it is extremely important to be up to speed with the latest trends and training techniques to put in my “toolbox” as both a handler AND an instructor to my students.  As a teacher, I am a bit concerned recently about the amount of people I see who seem to be stuck in a circle. It seems people are afraid to step out of their box and ask their instructors *why* they should be doing something a certain way.

 If “Simon Says” be a sheep, would you be one ?

 Instead, people seem to go along like sheep because:

A)    it is the “in” thing to do

B)    they are afraid to question the instructor

Simply put, a good handler will step out of their comfort zone, and take a risk from the norm and question why something should be done a certain way.  However, I’m not saying don’t listen to your instructor!  🙂 I’m saying ask your teacher “why” instead of following exactly what they said because “Simon said so.”

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition”

– Steve Jobs

A good instructor will want you to question them; they want you to succeed and understand to your utmost potential. A bad instructor doesn’t have an answer when you ask “why” something must be done a certain way.

Follow your heart and what you believe in, take a risk and you will succeed!

My dog’s enjoying self reinforcement from the sprinkler. Bad dog training? Not in my world 🙂

Happy Training!

Tara LaBelle, Swift Dog Sports

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Happy Holidays from Swift Dog Sports!

I would like to wish everyone a joyful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!

Season’s Greetings to Everyone!

Here is Swift’s final run from the last agility competition of 2011. Can’t wait to see what 2012 has to offer!

Happy Training!

Tara LaBelle, Swift Dog Sports

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…..So if we’re not in Kansas anymore then where the heck are we ?

This blog entry is a follow-up to my previous entry below.  I asked the question, what exactly makes an amazing agility team?  How is success defined in agility ?

Success is what you make it.

                                 Success = getting your dog to pose for a Halloween picture.

In the agility world, each person may view the term “success” differently. In my world, success may be that I can see Swift smiling after an agility run, it may an awesome set of weave polls she just did, a regional championship she just won, or her not trying to attack the vacuum!

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm” –  Winston Churchill

In dog agility, we grow and learn as we become more experienced in the game.  I’ve been involved in agility for about 13 years now, and I learn and grow as a handler from my dog’s every week.  Furthermore, I’m open to ideas and feedback from my friend’s,  trainers, and seminars I attend. I’m able to take those tools and apply them to make myself a better handler.  In addition, I think the best feedback one can receive is from your own dog!

I know what you’re thinking!

Hey Tara, my dog doesn’t speak English ?  Go back to the beginning of this blog; what makes an amazing agility team? Being able to have communication and teamwork in my option; typical creates a stronger understanding between handler and dog and as a result, these teams are typical the ones that excel at major agility events.

Swift and I “In the zone” – Ottawa, Ontario – AAC Nationals 2009

Swift comes off agility courses seeing my smile gleaming at her.  She wouldn’t know the difference between winning a regional championship and having a run not go our way results wise. In a perfect world, all handlers would react this way and laugh at the mistakes we make as handlers 🙂

And if you still are having a hard time having success in the agility ring; maybe you can teach your dog to read numbers on the course like mine do ? E-mail me to book a private lesson.

Swift – Another National picture, another smile 🙂

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships” – Michael Jordan

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2011 AAC National Championships – “Follow the yellow brick road, we’re not in Kansas anymore!! “

Another National Championship has come and gone, it seems this year is just flying by! This year, the AAC National Championships were held in Barrie, Ontario. Consequently, this meant another long flight back East for Swift and me.

Viper attempting to fit herself into my luggage… maybe in a few years baby dog!

The 2011 Nationals was the 8th National Championships I`ve attended. My first was back in 2002 with my Sheltie which also happened to be in Ontario.  It was an amazing learning experience 8 years ago and I can now look back and see how much I`ve grown as a person and competitor since then. I’m amazed at how easy it is for our dogs to adjust to situations so smoothly. Sure, “throw me on a 5 hour flight in the dark, let me out of the crate and I’m good to go!” How our dogs react to situations like this is rather mind boggling.

         

Ginger at the 2002 AAC Nationals in Ontario         Swift at the 2011 Nationals in Ontario

I was slightly concerned about the weather situation this year. Ontario was in a massive heat wave leading up to Nationals and back in BC we were getting weeks and weeks of rain with below normal temperatures. But, as my favourite saying goes, “It is what it is”. Ontario did not disappoint and it was once again a blazing hot and humid event.

Swift cools off on her cooling bed at the Nationals

Fortunately, Swift does well in all conditions; I’m a very lucky person to be on this journey with her.  At 8 years old, she managed to pull out a 4th place out of 122 of the best dogs in Canada with a very respectable finish.

I returned home from Nationals refreshed and energized. My young dog “Viper” is now old enough to enter agility trials and I look forward to the journey we both are about to take as well as continuing the “yellow brick road” Swift has taken me down.

So what exactly makes an amazing agility team?  How is success defined ? Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog.

Until then,

Happy Training!

Tara LaBelle, Swift Dog Sports

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Realistic Expectations

I often hear from some of my more experienced students training  their 2nd or 3rd young agility dog that this time they’re going to do everything “right”. They want to avoid making the mistakes they made with their 1st agility dog and they have turned to me for help. In some cases, they’re so afraid that they’re going to make mistakes with their young dog that it gets to a point where they don’t progress in their training.

“I don’t want to make the same mistakes as  I did with my first agility dog”

Here’s a reality check.

“Failure is an event not a person, yesterday ended last night” ~ Zig Zigler

You’re going to make mistakes. I’ve made mistakes with my young dog and I tell my students they need to get over the mistakes they’ve made; learn from it and move on.  It’s up to you as a trainer how you react to the situation and grow from that experience.

I love this Michael Jordan commercial. It touches on exactly what I preach to my students:

The same philosophy can be used from one’s performance at a big agility event such as a regional or national championship. I’ve never gotten too high from a win or too low from a loss.  I take each event as a learning opportunity given to me and I grow from that experience. As a famous hockey player once said,

“It is what it is”.

Happy Training!

Tara LaBelle, Swift Dog Sports

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