Ditz runs are a real thing
They can happen in any competition but are really noticeable in agility. Please think of ditz runs as a way to test your whole training package. In some older dogs, they play the ditz card to control the situation. They want to explore a new place. They know the difference between practice and competition. They are quick to learn you don’t have a cookie and that you can’t really get on them or catch them. We call that being ring-wise. We try to avoid that by using trial environments for training often called a Match.
In less experienced dogs, ditz runs can be brought on by pressure the dog feels to perform a task it finds difficult. Those scary tunnels or wobbly teeters or mind-blowing weave poles (“There are TWELVE of the
When your training comes in handy
Don’t get panicky, don’t get visibly upset, DO NOT disconnect from the dog.
In the best cases, the dog runs around quickly and comes back to you ready to work having blown off steam. You may or may not be able to save the Q. You should keep it short and get off the course thereby making it clear to the dog the human calls the shots. Don’t get angry — I know that can be really hard in your shock and
Get the leash on —
Good job training that the recall and the leash are part of the fun. Stay connected to the dog as you get back to your car/crating set up. Bonus points for not swearing or sobbing in your volatile state. We have all wanted to have a meltdown at some time. Again, just freaks the teammate out so put the dog up first.
What do you want to try on your next run?
Break it down to one or two things so that you and the dog accomplish something together. Start line stays and getting the leash on are as important as making the contacts and not bailing on the teeter. At some point in your trialing life, you will pat yourself on the back for getting thru a course as designed with a few dropped bars!!
Give yourself space — Give yourself grace
Friends and instructors may want to start helping with observations as soon as you get out of the ring. Feel free to give them a “wait a sec while I put Fido up and we can dissect it.” Friends do this because we are mostly females over 45 years. After spending most of the last two decades keeping track of socks and school books and dinner plans, we can’t keep a fresh thought in our heads for very long. We want to share our observations and move on to our run. Video helps
Take time with your dog
Don’t be surprised if they have no idea what you are grousing about. Take a few moments to find what went right no matter how small. Hold that positive feeling. That will make space in your brain for the next micro-win. Embrace that good thing, then plan for the next run. You have to be able to walk into the ring again with no flinching. You need to shake it off. Try picturing how you are going to replicate what went right and ONE MORE good thing on that next run. Do that by resetting your goals and criteria for the current situation. Meeting your new smaller goal is a success — qualifying is a bonus. And just like Leggo, small wins can stack up to a whole world
Be Safe — Be Happy
Don’t worry too much if everyone and their dog is safe and happy. We have all been there. We know the embarrassment and frustration. Also, we know how happy The Happy Place will be when it all comes together.