Dog sports…Agility handlers…? How did you get on with last months questions on motivation?

Dog sports…Agility handlers…? How did you get on with last months questions on motivation?

By Mark Laker

These are two questions I ask my new coaching students – it gets them thinking… and not just ‘what a daft question’!

Motivation is a complex subject, it fuels our interest to do things, it generates our intrigue to learn and develop skills. The motivation cycle is fascinating too. Motivation builds and plateaus to a point where the topic (in our case dog sports) becomes a habit. Then the habit becomes a way of life and before you know it, we have multiple dogs, a caravan or a motorhome, a dog vehicle, all our holidays are at competitions and we’re on the dog sport hamster wheel. Now ask the question ‘why do you do dog sports?’….and the answer you’ll get is: 

‘Because I do, I’ve always done it’. 

That’s the answer I often got – until I probed more (asking five why’s) until I uncovered the real reasons. 

The Five Why’s

Asking five why’s takes the emotion out of the subject and gets to the deep rooted reasons often forgotten over time. Of course there are no right or wrong answers with this exercise, what’s important, particularly at times like now when external pressures have stopped the hamster wheel, is that we remember why we got involved in the first place. 

From my experience these reasons include: 
               * I’ve always been around dogs
               * I’ve always been involved with competitive sports;
               * I like the social side of the sport;
               * I enjoy teaching my dogs new skills;
               * All of the above !

It’s important to understand what form of motivation drives each one of these root causes. When you know that, you can channel that motivation in other directions if you need too. 

For example, if you enjoy teaching dogs new skills but you can’t do your sport at the moment, you may get that ‘motivation’ feel from virtually teaching new skills to help people. If you’ve always been involved with competitive sports but you can’t do your sport at the moment, then is there another sport you can find out about, do you have a transferable skill you can offer to another sport or person.

We often get so caught up on the hamster wheel that until something like COVID, a recession, or a change in personal circumstances comes along, we don’t stop and look at other options.

Maybe it’s time to ask what motivates us and how can we use them to keep going in these unprecedented times and expand our interests.

I hope you are keeping well.

Best regards,

Mark.

Mark Laker

Happy New Year – 2020. Mark Laker talks about the challenges facing dog sports

Happy New Year – 2020. Mark Laker talks about the challenges facing dog sports

MLb

Happy New Year – 2020 has arrived and promises to be another interesting year with big challenges facing us politically, on a world scale, the environment and of course topics closer to our own interests – dog sports.

On the 1st January a new jump height was introduced at Kennel Club licensed agility competitions. The new height is 50 cm and called Intermediate. It aims to address an age old issue of smaller large breeds (if that makes sense) jumping in the highest jump height category (65cm). So in effect, Border Collies (sorry to be breedist, but they’re a good example) could measure into either the intermediate or large height category.

The debates, arguments and reasoning for this additional height have been going on longer than Brexit. I won’t go over all the pros and cons – it’s done and it’ll be interesting to see how the competitions deal with the increased number of classes this year….we could have probably told Teresa May that even a simple thing like changing agility dog jump heights can’t be enacted in less than three years; she didn’t have a chance on a Brexit deal in any less! 

MLaThe new height category doesn’t effect my current agility dogs Rhyme (large) and Pikachu (small) but the three existing heights (small, medium and large) have all been reduced by 5cm too. So they will be jumping slightly lower obstacles in the future. Karen’s young bitch Chic has measured in this new height.

This reduction in jump heights for the small, medium and large categories bring KC competitions in line with the FCI and most other organisations – a good move. Increasingly more countries who compete under FCI rules are introducing a 4th intermediate type height and I wouldn’t be surprised if the governing body introduce this at their showcase European Open and Agility World Championships within the next five years too.

A more pressing matter is to get Rhyme and myself back up to agility fitness ready for Crufts in six weeks (yikes!). We’ve both had a few injury niggles over the last few months, and put on a few extra pounds over Christmas. We now need to knuckle down and get working on our fitness plans.

All the best for 2020.

Mark