E353: Loretta Mueller - Getting Started in Agility

 Ever wondered what key foundation information is essential to getting a good start in agility? In this episode Loretta and I talk about exactly that — including a look at some of the terminology that it's easy for beginners to get tripped up on!


Melissa Breau: This is Melissa Breau and you're listening to the Fenzi Dog Sports Podcast, brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, an online school dedicated to providing high-quality instruction for competitive dog sports, using only the most current and progressive training methods. Today I have Loretta Mueller here with me to talk about agility training and introducing yourself and your dog to agility. Hi Loretta, welcome back to the podcast!

Loretta Mueller: Hey Melissa. I'm happy to be back. It's good to be here.

Melissa Breau: Super excited to have you. Do you wanna just remind listeners a little bit about you and your current furry crew? Yeah, so I currently have four border collies. I've got Seven and Lynn, my two old girls who are 15 and a half and still kicking it.

It's amazing. I have Gig who is 10 and Zee who just turned two, but she acts like a six month old one. And I am currently spending all my time teaching seminars and doing training and coaching people online and in person.

Melissa Breau: Fantastic. I wanted to have you on today to talk a little bit about those first stages, right? That getting started process and agility maybe for those who are familiar with dog sports, but they haven't quite yet been bit by that agility bug. So can you break down the skills the team is ultimately gonna need to build to be successful in the sport?

Loretta Mueller: Yeah, for sure. So let's start off with how most of us end up in agility. So we have a dog and it's got really high energy and we want something fun to do with it and we go to maybe a just for fun type of agility class and the dogs get to go, you know, climb over a frames or learn basic stuff, whether the dogs like it or not. And then like myself, you decide you want to trial and you get in novice and you, you really get bit by the bug and then years down the road you realize that maybe you are missing some foundations and you try to go back and you know, it's like filling up training holes and gaps. So that's not the type of experience I would like people to have with agility, even though obviously I stuck with it and so do many people that start out like that. But if I was going to wish anything it would be, you know, making sure you have the right foundations. And so it really depends on the venue you're trialing in.

I would say there are many different venues depending on where you are in the world, but in general you need a dog with drive, right? So happy to play the game with you. Ideally a dog that's not having any kind of, you know, emotional issues like fear or stress or stuff like that. But it, we can work with that.

If you have the right trainer and the right foundation and someone that's really listening to you and your dog, you need to make sure that the dog can focus with distractions all around them. That's gonna be a big part of it. You're gonna have other dogs, other people, food noises, you name it. If you've never been to an agility trial it can be quite a crazy chaotic place.

And the biggest thing when you're doing courses or sequencing is that your dog needs to be able to commit and perform obstacles with you moving away, which is really tough for dogs. And if you're fast, that's also great. It's a great thing to have in agility, but if you're not, and that's okay, my dogs are a lot fashioned than I am and so that's not a big deal. But you would need a set of verbals that are well-trained so that you can negotiate the courses.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. So when we start to break those things down into kind of the foundation skills that we're looking at teaching, you know, teaching our dog, can you take us through what that looks like? Can you talk us through an example?

Loretta Mueller: Yeah, so let's say, and the first thing I like to do is I like to do any skill on the flat as we call it, which means that there's no equipment. So we're teaching the dogs how to respond to body language, teaching the dogs that they should turn when the handler turns, they should shorten their stride when the handler decelerates, they should extend their stride when the handler accelerates, things like that.

And a good example would be like, let's say I teach the dogs that they have to go to a bowl or a toy dropped on the floor as an example and they need to go to that bowl or toy dropped while the handler's moving away. So we're teaching these dogs from the get go oppositional motion, right? So the dog is going to go towards the reward, the human's gonna run the other direction and the dog is gonna continue to get the reinforcement.

And from an instinctive point of view, that is really, really tough for dogs. They don't chase rabbits and then suddenly just turn around away from it. It's not what they do. So we teach these dogs motion based handling and then we're like, oh, but by the way, when I say jump or when I say a frame, I need you to continue on. So I like to have the dogs understand that.

So we start on the flat, we work on adding oppositional motion. After that I normally start adding a jump into the mix. And the reason why I add a jump is because we don't have to have a jump bar, we wanna separate that out, just the act of going to the jump and going around the upright while the handler again is going away, we can work on those dogs staying committed with oppositional handler motion and then we can add verbals in. And then once we get the verbals, then we would add another layer of distractions as an extra challenge to help the dogs understand that they're supposed to really focus in on the task no matter what happens, whether the handler's moving off or whatever, their only job is to do that thing. And then when they're done doing the thing, then they reconnect with their handler.

Melissa Breau: What about the other half of the team, the human half of the team team, what do those foundations look like?

Loretta Mueller: We gotta work on body language being correct. So if in my classes people laugh at it and in my seminars I say point all your parts, point all the parts to the things, but it's really important you wanna point your arms and your toes and all your body parts to where your dog needs to go, needs to go. And we're as humans used to just pointing with our hands to things. So our body may be pointing a completely different direction and that is really confusing to the dog. So it's much easier to teach a person in the beginning stages the correct way to signal a dog than having to fix it later.

Once we have all sorts of, you know, bad habits established, unfortunately again I've been there with that and had to reestablish good habits. And so we wanna make sure that that body language is on point as much as possible. It also causes way less issues for the dog. So as you're handling needs to always make sense to them, that's gonna be the goal.

And I like to say that your handling should always provide answers to the dog never questions. The more questions the dog has to answer for you, the more frustration they have or they'll stop trusting your commands, right? And so it's just a matter of saying, you know what, the cleaner and more technical we can be. So the dog ideally would never question that would be our goal.

And so we are working on both the dog and the handler and the handler ideally needs to be clean. The further you get away from obstacles, it's even more important because you're showing dogs lines from a distance. And so if your foot or your hands are even just a six inches off, it can point to a totally different area of the course and that would be confusing to your dog.

Melissa Breau: All right, so we talked a little bit about handling in there and I think a lot of the time, you know, new agility teams, handlers tend to start with the obstacles, right? They think about the A-frame or they think about the dog walk or they think about the teeter and many maybe assume that jumps are perhaps the easiest of the bunch to teach. My guess is things are a little more complicated than they may first appear. So what makes for good and safe jumping?

Loretta Mueller: So first of all, let's talk about why jumps are not that exciting, right? They're just not right. Weave poles are cool, A-frames are cool, dog walks are cool. If you have a running dog walk, it's super cool, you know, there's so many more things that are so, so much cooler than jumps. But the bottom line is jumps are the most used obstacle in an agility course, right?

And yeah, there's plenty of people that say, oh my dog misses their A-frame contacts and things like that. But there are lots more that say my dog is got has one bar-itus or my dog's a bar knocker, right? And they're very jumps are pretty darn easy to fault, okay? There's a lot that goes into jumping, right? So from setting the striding, the dog needs to take the jump, whether they're an extension or collection, rocking back their weight if turning or staying on the front end. If they're going to be an extension, they have to do all these things and they also have to adjust to surfaces, they have to adjust, you know, if you're trailing outside and it's wet, things like that. And on top of that, then they also have to do all this stuff while trying to listen to handler commands, which I don't know anybody that has the most perfect timing in the entire world. So let's say we're just a little bit off, it throws everything off.

And so there's a lot happening in a very small amount of time, right? And so again, they're not, jumps aren't that exciting for us. And I see a lot of dogs that don't find them exciting either because again, they're easy to fault, there's a lot of them and they do require a lot of thought process and executing things at a very quick rate.

And so even if you're not just, you know, if you're doing just agility, that's fine, but if you're not just doing agility, you're doing obedience, you're doing flyball, any of those things, the goal with jumping is gonna be to make that as autopilot for the dog as possible. And there's just so much to do. And I think that good and safe jumping is where the dog can read the line, they can read the jump height, they are able to adjust to different surfaces, they're able to focus on their job no matter what the handler's doing, even if the handler makes an error and they're confident in what they have to do because if they're not dogs can get hurt while jumping. I mean agility in general is a pretty high impact sport.

And jumping is one of those things that if done correctly right over time doesn't necessarily cause a lot of wear and tear on the dog. But if done incorrectly it can cause a myriad of issues. And so we wanna make sure that these dogs are doing what they need to do and do it safely while competing and training. A lot of the times we kind of hear this phrase jump grid thrown around.

Melissa Breau: And for those who maybe aren't, agility aren't super experienced, I guess in the sport that may be a phrase that sounds familiar, but they don't really know what it means. So can you talk about what a jump grid is and maybe how it actually helps?

Loretta Mueller: Yeah, for sure. So a jump grid is really just a line of jumps that can be set in different, like spacing, configurations, some angles, heights, things like that to help the dog learn how to jump in extension in collection. And also transitioning between the two types of jumping meaning extension or collection. So like one of the hardest things dogs usually have a hard time doing is going from extreme extension to collection. That's a really tough one, right? Because they have to slow it down and do all the things really, really fast and and try to make it all happen.

The reason why I like them is 'cause it's a place for the dog to be able to work on solving, jumping puzzles without any feedback from the handler. So it's a, I guess as I would call it, a jumping safe space. It's a place to experiment, it's a place to figure out their timing and we will, we do add motion as the dogs get more advanced. But in the beginning it's just, again, you're trying to figure out, let the dog do their thing, they go to a reinforcer, they figure out what feels right. Most dogs that need jump education, it's about getting them to understand, you know, what feels good with their bodies and how they should use their bodies.

Because if we don't teach them that and give them the freedom to puzzle through that kind of stuff, jumping can become very anxiety producing. And if you've ever had anxiety or anybody listening to this podcast has ever had anxiety, a lot of times you get really tense in your shoulders and your neck muscles. And I like to carry all of my anxiety in my jaw.

That's my favorite place to keep it all together. And so what you see is dogs that get anxious or dogs that are overthinking, they get tight in their front end, which then doesn't make them good jumpers and they get worried. And so it's all about providing a place for these dogs to have a consistent set of jumps where they can learn to scope out the jump and they can learn to measure different heights and adjust their strides so that they know exactly what they should do.

And then once we have them doing that, then we can add the human component into it. So the dog has had a lot of experience understanding how they need to use their bodies and I think jump grids are perfect for that. And it's very easy for me to keep the human out of it because we like to help, we as humans, we wanna help, right? So if a bar comes down, I get this question, what happens if a bar comes down to the jump grid? Nothing. You just observe what the dog did and 99% of the time they'll fix it 'cause they didn't like it anyway. It's, you know, before they learn that bars are bad, they just are like, Ooh, I didn't like the way that felt or I didn't like that it got knocked.

And so you let these dogs work through it and it's so fun to see these dogs work through the grids without any feedback from the handler, maybe we might move a jump a little bit, a foot or two to maybe make the right decision easier. But in general, the humans just left out of it. And so it's just a nice easy way to get your dogs educated and jumping without having to, you know, add any kind of handler issues with verbals or anything like that. And then like I said, once they get to the point where they're really, really solid in the grids, you can add handler motion, you can add words and distractions and things like that. And the dog's like, I got this. No problem.

Melissa Breau: That's awesome. For folks just getting started with jumping, I feel like the other question that is bound to come up is what height do I start the jump at compared to where they'll ultimately need to compete at? How do you introduce that piece of things and do you start it out at the full height? Do you not start it out at the full height? Talk me through some of that. Well, we're gonna look at first what age the dog is, right? So I don't try to go to full height if they're young. I am really nerdy about this kind of stuff. And so I would get my dogs x-rayed for growth plates. Your vet can tell you exactly which growth plates to x-ray, they'll tell you when all of them have been closed. So that's what I recommend to people.

Sometimes they don't like to hear that, but that's what I do because I don't want my dogs jumping full height until those growth plates are completely closed and the dog is ready. You also have to look at the dog's mental ability. So some dogs are very immature mentally and some dogs are super mature mentally. And so I'm gonna look at those two things first to make sure, is the dog physically capable of jumping and is the dog mentally capable?

If their growth plates aren't closed, then we, you know, no, no bars. Bars on the ground, preferably no bars. I don't, I'm not a big fan of bars on the ground 'cause they can slip and and fall on those bars depending on what kind of footing you have. But I'm gonna start with no bar ideally and teach them just to maneuver their bodies around this jump just to build value and take the thing, right?

And then if they're young, I'm gonna keep everything very low below like a wrist height and let them just learn how to use their bodies. If they're super, I call kind of discombobulated, right? So they're back end and they're front end don't really work together. You keep everything low. So it's nice and easy. I want this to be a, not only a technique situation, but also a value building situation. Jumping needs to be very rewarding for the dogs, correct?

Jumping needs to be the ultimate reward, right?

So we wanna make sure we're re reinforcing as much as we can. Then I'm gonna measure the dog at their withers. And again, this is assuming the dog's growth plates are closed.

You can get an idea for where your dog's gonna be based on breed standards, based on, you know, they've got different growth charts and stuff. But if you have an adult dog, you measure at the withers, you figure out which venue you're gonna be running in and what their final jump height in is. And then if, again, if you're working with a young dog, you're not gonna be doing any of that. You're just gonna be working on them using their bodies. If I have the wither height and I know what I'm working up to, I'm gonna slowly increase by one inch to maybe two inches at a time. Okay? I don't want to go more than that. And the reason I don't is because I really want to think about how much effort jumping takes, right?

So if you, you need to build that up slowly, just like you would for any fitness routine you're starting out with, okay, I am not gonna go out and run a marathon without some training before. 'cause well, number one, I'm probably not gonna finish it, but number two, it's gonna be absolutely miserable and I may not be able to walk for a couple weeks.

Jumping is no different, right? You have to allow the dog to build strength and conditioning when doing jump work. So slow and steady wins the race. If you have a young dog, you're just working on where are your back feet, where are your front feet, can they move? You know, and can they work together? When you're looking at a dog that you wanna raise up to jump heights, I do like to get them to full height as quickly as possible, but that's assuming that they're giving me good form. A lot of dogs will get stuck. And I'm, we're running into this actually just in week one and week two where the dogs are starting to get stuck at certain heights. And so we'll go like, okay, they're doing eight inches and they're doing 10 inches now they're doing 12 inches and then they go to 14 and it all just falls apart.

So like the dogs are doing stuff and flinging their rear ends or they're over jumping or they're doing weird stuff and I'm telling everyone, okay, let's, let's go to 13 inches, you know, which means these people have to go find a book or something off the bookshelf, shove it under the base, right? And we go to 13 inches and then we go to 14 after like three sessions.

And guess what? The dogs are like, oh, I can have 14. What's the problem? It's all about getting them to develop that strength and develop the ability to use their bodies. And so sometimes you will go up and down and up and down. I would rather increase the height too slowly than too quickly. Does that make sense?

Melissa Breau: Yeah.

Loretta Mueller: And so that's gonna be the goal. So slow and steady will win the race. And so if the dog is like, yeah, you know, I'm a very natural jumper, great, they could be up to full height pretty darn quickly. If the dog is the type that, let's say you've got a dog that's, you know, not your typical agility dog, so you've, you know, they're like a, like a great example would be like a dog that's very big in mass. So like Bernese Mountain Dog, something like that. It's gonna require a lot of power. You don't want to raise them up that quickly because they have to develop that muscle, right?

And so, and develop the ability to put all the parts together. So it's gonna be very dog dependent. But if you go up inch by inch or two inches at a time and you look for the form to be correct, then you're not gonna be pushing the dog to the point where they're gonna be like, oh, I can't do this or I'm gonna do this poorly. If you see them doing it poorly, guess what? You just back it down. And then eventually they'll be like, oh, I'm stuck at 14 for a while, but I can do 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. Just fine. And then they're fine. You know, so it really is dog dependent, but it's about, especially in this class, watching your dog's behaviors and understanding what they're doing and adjusting to what they need immediately.

And then it's so cool to watch the dogs just do all this work and figure this stuff out. Are there aspects of jumping that kind of get overlooked by beginners? There's aspects of jumping that get overlooked by everybody, not just beginners.

Melissa Breau: Fair enough, right? So jumping isn't sexy.

Loretta Mueller: I mean it can be, but it's really, it, it's not right. Most people are like, yeah, you know, if the dog clears the jump, they don't worry about how they take the jump, right? So if the dog, as long as the bar is standing up, they're okay with that. Many people are like that. So these dogs will do all sorts of interesting things to keep jumps up. But in reality it's really important how the dog jumps and you know,if they jump in correctly, it can shorten their careers over time.

It can cause excessive imbalances in the front end, the back end in the spine. And so we wanna make sure they're jumping well. But yeah, most people are like, is, you know, if you ask somebody, is my dog a great jumper? They'll be like, yeah, you know, they don't, they don't knock a bar ever. But if you look at how these dogs take the jumps, that is a different thought, right? So many times dogs just learn to keep bars up, right? They're like, well, okay, my owner does not want the bars to drop, or they just don't like the bars to drop.

Whether it's the noise, whether it's the, the feeling of the bar, whatever, whether, you know, the human gets deflated, if the dog knocks the bar, things like that. So they learn to do all sorts of things. They learn to hyper extend their backs, they learn to jump higher. You see some dogs, it'll jump. It's supposed to be jumping 20 inches and they're jumping 28-30 inches.

And again, humans, myself included, I've been in this before that say, well the bar stayed up so guess what? It's good. But there's so much more to it than just if the bar stays up. And I think that those of us that have ever had a dog that struggled with keeping that bar up, we are the ones that have a tendency to go, okay, why is this happening? Whereas if your dog just jumps all the things and most of us don't really think about it until there's a quote unquote issue. So I think that's why people have a tendency to overlook it.

Melissa Breau: Okay, so I'm gonna switch gears on you here for a minute. I wanna talk about handling a little bit. So from a terminology standpoint, can you talk about the different types of crosses and then a little bit maybe on just kind of how you decide which to use when?

Loretta Mueller: For sure. Yeah. So I don't know about people that are listening to the podcast, people that are doing agility, but when I, like someone described the crosses to me, I was like, what I didn't understand it.

Like I had to actually, I had to actually do it. And so yes, I'll describe it, but like I feel like it's really hard to describe them sometimes, but I'll attempt to do this without any kind of anything but words. So I'm gonna go for it. So you've got a front cross, a blind cross, and a rear cross.

Okay? All of these are done so that the dog ends up on the other side of you. Meaning if they start on your left, they end up on the right or if they start on the right, they end up on the left. The front cross is when you're going to be, you have to be ahead of your dog, okay? It's the only way you can make it happen.

You're going to turn towards them and as you're turning and rotating towards them, you're going to cross their line while you're still ahead of them and then they end up on the other side of you. That's a front a blind cross. You also have to be ahead of your dog and you turn away from them. So if they're on your left side, you would actually look towards your right shoulder, the dog would come to the right shoulder and you're again crossing their line ahead of them.

The rear cross is when you are behind your dog. So your dog's ahead of you, you send them ahead to an obstacle and you cross behind them and they turn with you. Okay? And so you cross their line while they are ahead of you. And I know that probably people are like, huh, but when you put it into play, it does work out really well. Front crosses and blind crosses are easier for the dogs, harder for the handlers, and then rear crosses are easier for the handlers, but harder for the dogs. 'Cause the dogs lose track of you, right?

And then my rules for them are pretty simple. If you're ahead front cross or blind cross and if you're behind your rear crossing, you don't really have any, any choices. People make fun of me that I'm like, don't force a rear cross if you're ahead of your dog, don't wait for your dog to get to you. You get up there and you do a front or a blind. And again, it's, they can be tough to explain until you start doing them, you know?

And that's, I think that's the hardest part about the crosses is once you get them and you actually work through the pieces and you do them with your dog and on the flat and then we add jumps and stuff into it, it makes sense. You're like, oh yeah, but just describing them, it sounds probably like some weird, crazy foreign language.

I will say. I tend to, it took me a long time to figure out which one was which, and I actually remember them by name and it was super helpful to me, for me at least to think of the front cross is the dog's in front of you all the time, right? So you're, it's in front of you even as you're turning and changing sides, the dog stays in front of you, you're looking at the front of your dog, the blind cross, you're literally blind so you're not seeing your dog and then the rear crash, you're looking at your dog's butt. There you go. Does that help me?

Melissa Breau: Yeah, that's awesome. That is just helpful for anybody else. That's awesome. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Anyway, so more handling terminology or less handling more terminology, I don't know, but a couple more phrases I wanna kind of break down and talk about. What are they, right? So we've got backside sends two seventies and 180. So let's try again with describing something in words that it's much easier to probably see, but yeah.

Loretta Mueller: That's okay. Okay. So most people understand the idea of the dog taking the front side of a jump and the backside is going to be where the dog is going to go around and come at the jump from the other direction. So if you are, if you're standing and you are looking at the takeoff of a normal jump, dog's gonna be going the exact same direction.

You're going towards that jump. If a dog is doing a backside send, they are going to go around the jump and jump towards you taking the backside of that jump. Two seventies and one eighties, actually refer to the angle that is bet that's between the two jumps. So a 180 would be like two jumps kind of side by side. So the dog is gonna take the first jump and do 180 degree turn and take the second jump, second jump. A two 70 is going to be kind of like, well 270 degrees. So the dog's gonna take a jump, their, their line of travel will be 270 degrees and they will come back in over the second jump. I know, right?

Melissa Breau: It's, I'm picturing the math in my head. Okay, so what's two 70 degrees? Not 360, but less than that?

Loretta Mueller: Yes. Yes. So it's like that, you know, 180 and then another 90. And so that you're gotta think of maybe like three quarters of a circle. And so that's how the jumps would be set up. And should it be, are they more about the handling or about the course design? They should be about the handling, like showing the dog what line to take for sure. But also good course design should be applied so that the dog doesn't have to make hard abrupt changes to make these challenges happen. So as an example, like if I have a dog coming into a line where there's two jumps and one of them is a backside, say the second jump is a backside, I don't want the dog coming towards that second jump, like right in the middle of the bar. I would want them angled. So it's gonna be a more natural line. So I feel like that agility's tough enough and the dogs are very fast and we're going at a very fast rate of speed.

And I feel like that there should be options within course challenges, but not to the point where the dog has to like completely turn away and, you know, go crazy to try to find that line should be a nice and early line change so the dog can adapt to whether it's a backside send or a 180 or a 270. So it's kind of both realistically.

Melissa Breau: Fair enough. Now that everybody's totally confused, well hopefully people aren't too confused. I think you did a good job kind of describing the pieces.

Loretta Mueller: Thank you.

Melissa Breau: That said, I do think it's helpful to look to also have seen them in video and whatnot, so if you are confused, YouTube may be your friend. Alright, so you've got two classes on the schedule at FDSA this term, both agility classes, your intro to agility class and your foundation jumping class. So I wanted to have you take a second and just kind of tell us a little bit more about each of the classes, kind of what each one maybe covers.

Loretta Mueller: Yeah, Absolutely. They are honestly probably my favorite classes to teach just because I'm gonna have people that are seasoned agility people and dogs.

I'm gonna have complete newbies and anything in between and I love it. It's a nice way to get back to foundations. My intro class is about getting the dogs to commit to jumps with handler motion away. That's gonna be our goals for the dogs. And it also goes over body language for the handler and how those things work together to create a complete cue for the dog.

That's gonna be really important. So that's gonna be AG one 10 kind of in a nutshell for AG 200, its foundation jumping is just about teaching the dog to have proper jumping technique to scope out the jumps to adjust their striding and weight shift to clear bars in an efficient manner. That's not just for agility, it's also for obedience, flyball and many others sports that require jumping. But it's just about how the dog is using their body in different puzzles we present to them in grid work and one jump work and stuff like that.

Melissa Breau: What kind of equipment do students kind of need to be able to apply the stuff and to really learn this stuff?

Loretta Mueller: Well, when I first started teaching these classes, because I've been teaching 'em for quite a few years, we just did like three jumps total, right? For AG 110, 3 jumps for AG 200, which is a jumping class up to five jumps, obviously toys, treats, things like that. But now we've gotten a little more fancy and we have all sorts of cool things like manners managers and treat and trains and canine tutors using a bowl maybe to send the dog to.

The nice thing is for a lot of this stuff, I don't require a sit stay so we can make things work if your dog doesn't have a sit stay or if your dog is just learning about that kind of stuff, we don't have to add that into the mix and either one of these classes, which is really nice. So, you know, just making sure you have three to five jobs depending on which class you're taking. Possibly a bowl to put food in, toys and treats and yourself and your dog.

Melissa Breau: Gotcha. Excellent. Alright, any final thoughts or maybe key points you wanna leave listeners with?

Loretta Mueller: Yeah, you know, without solid foundations you have nothing to build upon or it's gonna be very shaky at best. It's really important to take the time to get these foundations or you're gonna be back filling training gaps in the future.

You're gonna be back here in this foundation class or jumping classes working on, you know, my dog's been knocking bars for three years and I don't know why or things like that. And it's developed either bad habits in the dog or bad habits in us. I can speak that for myself for the longest time, for those of you that have taken my AG 110 class, I call them sneaky toes, where your toes like point in all sorts of random different directions that you don't expect them to do. I had to put my foot in a, in a box, a taped box, so I knew that my entire foot was pointing to the right spot. And if I would've had this class back when I started agility, I would've learned not to do that in the first place.

It took me probably four months to retrain my foot to point to the place I wanted my dog to go to, which is just ridiculous. But it did. And you know, I wanna save people that time. Or if they're having issues and they're not seeing the, you know, predictability that they should have, then they can come back to these classes and say, okay, this is what I'm looking for. Right? Because honestly, I know agility is a very fun sport and it's a bigger adrenaline rush, but for me personally, I like the adrenaline rush within the realm of predictability. So I wanna be able to trust my dog. I wanna be able to trust my handling and my training. And if you're getting unpredictable results, that means most likely you've gotta go back to some foundations.

Melissa Breua: Fair enough. And I think that that is a good place to end on the importance of making sure you have the strong foundation. Yeah. So thank you so much for coming on the podcast, Loretta.

Loretta Mueller: Absolutely. As always, I had a great time talking with you, Melissa.

Melissa Breau: I got you. And thank you to all of our listeners for tuning in, and we'll be back next week with the founders of Boundless Junior Agility Company to talk about promoting the sport with junior handlers. If you haven't already, subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or the podcast app of your choice to our next episode. Automatically download to your phone as soon as it becomes available.

Today's show is brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Special thanks to Denise Fenzi for supporting this podcast, music provided royalty free by bensound.com. The track featured here is called Buddy Audio Editing provided by Chris Lang. Thanks again for tuning in and happy training.


Today's show is brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Special thanks to Denise Fenzi for supporting this podcast. Music provided royalty-free by BenSound.com; the track featured here is called "Buddy." Audio editing provided by Chris Lang.

Thanks again for tuning in -- and happy training!

E354: Junior Handlers in Agility with Sasha Zitter...
How resistance training prevents osteoporosis

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.fenzidogsportsacademy.com/