Everyone has one. We all do some sort of ritual at the end of each competition run that we can recognize as a routine.
My question is: are you getting every benefit you can out of it?
Here are the benefits of an end of run routine.
- Clarification of when and where reinforcement will be coming from. This is a really important one, since most of our agility training happens with rewards on our person and the dog typically earns those rewards before leashing up & exiting the ring. If you feel like your dog is performing less enthusiastically than you'd like, consider if there is any confusion surrounding reinforcement. Many times, dogs just aren't motivated to compete in the same way they are motivated to train.
- Just because the run is over doesn't mean the fun is over! Some dogs find leashing up and exiting the ring to be a bit of a punisher. And what I mean by that, is that some dogs want to keep running & taking obstacles, and the leash is a cue that obstacles will no longer be available, so an end of run routine gives them structure around when obstacles will no longer be available, but a big fat pay check will be available to them once their leash is put on. If your dog is struggling to choose leash over obstacles, consider what they are getting after they run agility. Is agility truly their biggest reward, or can you get creative about what happens after agility to make leashing up stronger than continuing without you?
- Predictability makes us all feel better. It's not a secret that competition changes things. It changes how we act, how we feel, and how we respond to certain stimuli going on around us. When you entered your first competition, did you know what to expect? Did someone prepare you for that? Hopefully you did have someone prepare you, but if not, you understand how our dogs feel when they are also taken to a competition for the first time without being prepared. Routines help them feel prepared. Routines give you the confidence that you know what you are doing, and then you can relay that same feeling straight down the leash to your dog. Even better, with routines that have been trained in pieces and chained together properly and practiced at home and in class, you and your dog will have a better understanding of how competition works, and have a better shot at getting those high quality behaviors that you have in training, also in a trial.
Join me this Thursday, December 26th at 6PM for a FDSA Webinar on End of Run Routines! Learn about the pieces, the training, the chaining, and all the possible variations you can think of! Register here: https://www.fenzidogsportsacademy.com/self-study/webinars