I truly believe that everyone should try something new and unfamiliar once every six months.  New perspectives, new thought patterns, old habits put aside, old opinions questioned and tested.  It stimulates and invigorates.  That’s what has been happening on this side of German Shepherd Adventures for the last month…

Our family has taken up Agility/Rally with our young female German shepherd, Holly.  She’s just over a year old now, and has the energy reserves that you’d expect from a young, working dog.  Holly’s training up to this point has involved CGC, Therapy work, and Scentwork.  But this little girl is an always boiling kettle of something… maybe estrogen?  She is less patient than Hansie, unwilling to content herself with watching over her people as they go about their daily activities.  She needs to be in the middle of everything, and everything needs more action.  We knew that she would eventually need to have an activity that engages the intense athlete that lives in her heart.  We considered bitework, but Holly is under my wife’s direction, and she wants her to continue therapy work.  Early temptations with a bite-rag proved that she would do quite nicely in protection work, without a lot of prodding.  She would be a Tasmanian devil for sure, and this was not what CarolAnn had in mind.  No, Holly would require something uniquely her own…


We were fortunate to find an Agility competition taking place locally, and we decided to attend.  We thought that observing a couple of hours of the three day event would give us some direction. In the end, we attended all three days, and got completely engaged.  Holly’s course became clear to us, as mere humans…but it remained to see what my baby girl would want.  (By the way, in the future, if I slip and refer to “Baby Girl”, it means Holly.  This is the nickname that she’s earned from her Daddy) She proved enthusiastic and more than willing… She loves the action of the games, the constant motion, and the challenge of learning something new.  She also seems to enjoy the applause and the attention of the audience…What’s more, CarolAnn enjoyed this new activity that neither of us had experienced, and it was clear that she would be handling and training Holly.  That’s more than fine with me, as I’ve gotten intrigued with the coaching and judging aspects of the sport.  We can work together on this project, and create a team of three…Family togetherness is just one benefit of this new horizon. 

The best thing about it, from my viewpoint, is that we know there’s a lot to learn!!!  And what we do know already, will translate into it very nicely…I’m sure I’ll have opportunity to rile up at least some people here, as a pure Operant Conditioning training is practiced by the olde guard.  That’s fine…There’s a wave forming in the training world, even as we speak.  I know, because I’ve been researching some of the more successful Agility trainers, and how they train.  Cutting edge, communicative technique.  With sidebars of Relationship based motivation and drive development.  Naturally, you’ll hear all about thissubject as it unfolds.  That having been said, we will enter this new sport without preconception.  It will develop as we get trained, and find our direction.  Holly will show us the way with her drive, determination, and desire to perform.  She will be our ultimate guide…My wife just hopes that she earns a dog that doesn’t want to play ball at 3 A.M!  Stay tuned gang, this should be fun!!!


  1. Kim Atwell says:

    Oh…and Tuco said to tell Holly ‘Way to go, Lil Sis!’.

  2. Kim Atwell says:

    Awesome! I finally figured out that her older brother was an agility dog at heart back this past summer. We don’t go to competitions or even bother with ‘what training method works best’. But since setting up our own agility course in the backyard and working Tuco on it every other day or so he has become more focused on US and less buggy (Robert, you TOTALLY know what I mean! 😉 He is now, at 2 years old, the dog we always wanted – Fun, SMART, beautiful, athletic and always surprising. And if I could just add ‘no longer a counter surfer’ and ‘tolerant of ALL other dogs’ to the list, I’d be able to say he’s perfect. Can’t wait to see Holly’s progress!