This post is part of the DABAD, please check out the other amazing blogs here https://dogagilityblogevents.wordpress.com/stress/
I know there will be some positive amazing articles on this subject.
For me the timing is just perfect to cover a bit of the darker side of stress in agility
A couple of weekends ago I was at my first Agility show of the weekend
(Ben did amazing BTW, 3 wins in the weekend to take us up to grade 6! Something I never thought would happen)
And we had a lovely day chatting to friends and cheering on their successes too
There were also a few people who made the day slightly less enjoyable.
I am sure the majority of them are lovely in their normal life, and in training. But come to a show and they feel stress, pressure to be perfect when surrounded by so many peers
So there was the lady who dragged her dog over to another to say 'hello' and then when her dog showed its teeth to the other dog the lady actually smacked her dog in the face.
The stress to have the 'perfect dog' affects many people, everyone wants that dog you can take anywhere and it just happily and calmly acts in the perfect manner in every situation.
We are not perfect and neither are our dogs, they have the right to not want to be friends with every dog and showing teeth and even growling are not naughty behaviours they are comunications.
There was the mild mannered lady who has got herself a much more drivey breed than she has had in the past and from being lovely and gentle with her other dogs she has felt the stress from the breed experts on that breed to be 'hard' on the dog to keep him under control so she was ringside yanking and yelling at her dog. Very sad considering how gentle and lovely she is with her other dogs.
And there is the stress on the course. I am sure in training people dont drag their dogs too and from the obstacles on their hind legs, yet at a show people feel the stress that they are surrounded by far too many strange dogs and worry their dog might react or run off to play
When things go wrong in training I am sure most of us just go back and calmly try it again or train some more for that level of difficulty, we dont scruff our dogs and force them to the point where they went wrong.
We are all human and we feel the stress, but your agility run is not important, your dog is
Try and grow a thicker skin, if something goes wrong in the ring just laugh and run on and finish on a positive - then train later where you went wrong.
If you are stressed in the line and not sure how your dog will react as the people around you to give a little space, blow a few runs if need be just practising calmly walking up to the start line. Or even do some fun shows where you can have toys or food with you to reward your dog for the behaviour you want.
If you are stressed that your dog wont like other dogs then give them space at shows and get some good behavioural advice of positive ways to help your dog.
Stop stressing about the win, stop stressing about what other people think, take it as a day out with your dog, enjoy your dog and find the positives in what they are doing, nothing else is important
And here is my brag, my tired fab boy with his haul after his first show.