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Just DO Agility!

AgilityNerd on handling the stress and anxiety around competition.

by Steve Schwarz

Reprinted with kind permission of Steve Schwarz. This blog was first published at

I sometimes get questions from novice handlers asking about preparing for competition and especially about getting stressed out at competitions. Stress and anxiety they happen to us all.

But you know what? The more you do it the easier it gets.

You will make mistakes.

You will learn from those mistakes and know what to expect and then you'll know what to do.

You will forget things (collar on? collar off? brought your dog? entered in the trial/run? treats? crate? the course sequence?)

You will find that the trial tests your skills and uncovers your weaknesses and then you'll work on improving those skills.

You'll train out the "but we can't" excuses and you will become a better team.

You'll hang out with people who support you and your goals (and you'll stay away from the rest).

And the whole experience will get easier. The packing, travel, hotel, trial check in, course walk throughs, warm up, run, cool down; all will become things you know how to do and with practice will become second nature.

Because if you do anything enough times you will own it!

You can move past the anxiety and overcome the stress with one important mantra:

Just DO Agility!

Steve Schwarz has been training and competing in agility and flyball since 1997. He focuses on helping handlers improve their communication with their dogs on course in a positive and light hearted manner. Steve brings an analytical approach from his engineering background to the study and training of agility.

In order to stay knowledgeable about current agility training techniques, Steve trains regularly with top agility handlers and attends multiple dog and agility training seminars each year. Steve competes in AKC, USDAA, UKI, and CPE venues and has competed in NADAC and UKC.

Steve also writes the longest running dog agility blog: AgilityNerd with regular articles and videos on agility training, handling, and course analysis.


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