3 Simple Rules for More Drive in the Trial Environment

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Never yell at your dog

No matter how badly the run goes and whose fault it is (but no, it wasn’t your dog’s) never yell at your dog. Trial environment is stressful enough, don’t add to it. Yelling at your dog neither helps the dog understand how to improve nor makes you feel better. But it WILL make your dog doubt herself. How fast do you think a dog scared to make a mistake will run?

Don’t try to get it right

Trial is not a place for fixing holes in your training. You really don’t have to repeat that weave four times. You don’t have to go back to the jump your dog missed (and lose all your lead-out so you mess up whatever comes next too). You don’t even have to let your dog know they took an off course! Don’t make it harder than it already is or your dog will slow down in anticipation of fixing something every 3 seconds. Keep it smooth.

Reward, reward, and then… reward

So often I see handlers reward their dog with a couple of treats or by simply holding the toy that the dog tugs on their way to the crate. What a delight! You want your dog to give their best? Reciprocate. Got to the finish line? No matter how it went, treat your dog like she just won gold! Every. Single. Time.


  1. Totally agree! I have a really sensitive dog, and the environment of the trial by itself already creates enough stress for him to shut down, so all I can do is to make sure he has the best time ever in a trial run, which means I have to ignore all his mistakes and just keep running. It’s easier said than done though 🙂 I always feel the urge to go back and correct that missed jump and have to counteract my impulses all the time.

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