6 Vital Tips This Dog Agility Trainer Needs You To Embrace

Dog agility is an amazing and addicting sport. Remember how fun it was to watch your dog do his/her first obstacle? I was hooked and wanted to share with others the amazing experience, so I began teaching over 20 years ago.

Year after year students would come and I could see the potential in all of them! Whether it was the overly enthusiastic young dog or the uncoordinated handler, I knew that these moments would pass and they would grow to become absolutely amazing agility teams.

Unfortunately, there were always some who couldn’t see the greatness in themselves or in their own dogs. Most continued on, but internally they always doubted themselves and no amount of encouragement, titles or ribbons could convince them of how truly special their team was. In short, they had developed an inaccurate definition of success in agility and in turn, they could never measure up to their false belief.

The statements were always similar:

  • “I’m not good enough”
  • “I can’t do that”
  • “My dog isn’t the typical agility dog”
  • “I’m not as good as that person”
  • “I didn’t Q”
  • “We’ll never make it to Nationals”
  • “My dog can’t _____”

The majority of us are guilty of saying something like this at one time or another and that’s when we’re left to make a choice. We can either continue to hold steadfast to our perceived shortcomings or we can decide to embrace our own potential.

Here are 6 Vital Tips This Dog Agility Trainer Needs You to Embrace

All Handlers Have the Ability to Create Agility Superstars in their Dogs

Yes, this means you! Unfortunately, a large portion of handlers won’t believe they have the capabilities, so I’m going to assure you right now. You. Absolutely. DO! The trick is to be open minded, constantly learning and to commit to always be teachable.

ALL Dogs Have the Potential to be their BEST at Agility

Yes, that means your healthy dog! All that matters is that you want your dog to experience joy and satisfaction in agility, all while performing the action-based criteria that you clearly taught.

Superstars Aren’t Born. They are Made.

Dog or human, we’re all born with unique and amazing abilities but without supportive funneling, it’s likely we may not meet our full potential and growth. This is where perception, initiative, training and action based goal setting can separate a Star from a Superstar.

You Must Define Your Own Agility Goals

Forego the external and uncontrollable goals such as a title or qualifying run. Instead, put your money on your team and invest in committing to and training action-based goals. Action based goals are within your control and focus on clear and specific physical actions your agility team can practice and master. Once you have those, the titles and Q’s will begin to arrive automatically.

Never Compare Your Agility Journey to the Journey of Others

Remember that uniqueness I spoke about above? Here’s a reminder that YOU are unique. Your dog is unique. Together as a team, you are incredibly unique. Agility is a journey and right now, you are exactly where you are supposed to be, learning the things you need to continue the growth. Pretty powerful insight, right!

It Doesn’t Matter What Others Think

Really, it doesn’t. Seek advice from those familiar with your journey and who are 100% dedicated to your success. Never forget that in agility, there are many, many ways to accomplish the same task so figure out what works best for your agility team and proudly own your choice.

Where To Go From Here

Stay tuned for upcoming blogs where I’ll continue to share useful and relevant information and training tips on the agility journey.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to automatically receive upcoming blogs in your email, please complete the form below. Also, sharing is caring, so please forward this blog post to 3 friends and post on your social media account now. Your friends will thank you!

Happy Handling!

Lisa Selthofer

Articles In The Superstar Series:

  1. 6 Vital Tips This Dog Agility Trainer Needs You to Embrace
  2. 3 Traits of a Successful Agility Handler
  3. All Dogs Have the Potential to be Their BEST in Agility
  4. Dog Agility Superstars Aren’t Born. They Are Made
  5. 10 Simple (But Important) Things to Remember About Your Agility Goals
  6. Never Compare Your Agility Journey to the Journey of Others (coming soon)
  7. It Doesn’t Matter What Others Think (coming soon)


As a 20+ year dog agility coach, I am passionate about producing quality resources for dog agility teams by promoting self-development and delivering clear and specific training solutions that enable teams' to perform with clarity and confidence!

My unique experience as a hands-on trainer and 18+ year dog agility judge led me to create Sequencing For Success and the highly successful 2on-2off Contact Training DVD.

Our household has included Dalmatians, Labradors, Belgian Tervuren, Border Collies and engaging cats.

Contact Lisa via email AgilityOne at Gmail.com (replace at with @ sign)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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9 thoughts on “6 Vital Tips This Dog Agility Trainer Needs You To Embrace

  1. Thank you for your timely note above. I have a wonderful border collie who is so much faster than any other agility dog I have had, I am almost overwhelmed. There seems to be an unending amount of dog training that I don’t know, that I get discouraged. Your comments were just what I needed.

  2. Hi Lisa, My name is Lois Ronis and my first trial with my westie Kalani is in 2 days. We have been training for 2 and a half years and I finally got up enough courage to enter my first trial. Any helpful hints would be appreciated! Kalani is very fast and highly motivated. I am the weak link of our team. I am doing a lot of rear crosses because he is always ahead of me! We have been training using the one mind dog handling techniques. I am very hard on myself . I am never hard on Kalani because if something goes wrong it is always my error. I wish I had the agility gene like Kalani seems to have!

    • Hi Lois!

      Congratulations on entering your first trial! That really is an exciting moment and I’d love if you could remember the successful items accomplished in that run.

      Why not pick 2-3 things to focus on as goals to accomplish during your first run. For example, I like a sit-stay at the start line and my dog remains in place until I give the release word. Another one I tend to do is to make it a goal to connect with my dog between EACH of the obstacles (for me, this helps me to stay connected to my dog even when they are at a distance, plus it forces me to continue to focus on my job as a handler). My third goal is related to my obstacle performance and sticking to the criteria I have trained in practice. Things like the a-frame, dog walk and table.

      By breaking down a run into smaller, more manageable parts I am able to identify the successes and not become overwhelmed by what feels like an enormous job when I’m nervous. Let me know how the run goes! Lisa

  3. Another great article! I am starting a journey with a new puppy so your articles are inspiring me to keep working skills with the puppy. My new puppy is totally different than my previous agility dog who had great self motivation. It has been hard not comparing the new pup to my little rocket running dog and getting frustrated with the puppy. So, I have been focusing more on doing only basic foundations with her. She is happier already and I am too with the progress she is making.