Just a little over 2 years ago I brought my little Bravo home from Kentucky. It was a long trip with 7 hours at the terminal, the flight, and a 4 hour drive through the night after... We never stopped the traveling and he simply doesn't know it any other way!
D&C’s Bravo IGP 3...98-86-95 today HIT alternate breed at the USRC IGP 2019 Nationals!
This dog!!! ❤️❤️❤️We went in just under a year through a BH, IGP 1, IGP2 and IGP3!!! And he is only 2 years old!!! Proudly walking in his dad Scooter’s footsteps🤩.
What a ride and what a journey!!!💥💥 We are still on high cloud with so many friends and acquaintances from all over the world congratulating us on our great results and my hard work. So many are asking how we did it. I am thrilled with this beginning and I continue to work on getting better to keep up with my big guy and get closer to our goals.
I am not new to the sport, and Bravo is not my first dog in Schutzhund, and yes, he is super talented and exceptional! Yet I am not a big trainer, and I am very far from being a great handler or a top competitor still. In fact, this is my first Malinois and my first IGP3 title! If we succeeded in achieving our first milestone goal as planned, then so can you, and that's why I decided to share how we got to this point so far and what has worked for us😊...
1. DEFINE YOUR GOALS. What do you really want to achieve in the Sport with your dog? Reflect and think about what would really make you fulfilled, satisfied and happy? Because when you achieve it, this will be YOUR OWN SUCCESS. Visualize it so you get that great incredible craving that will forcefully push you out there to research and learn and drive crazy distances and keep going in all weather, at weird hours of the day, perhaps loose some of your friends and make new ones, and may be even adjust your career and life for it! How much time, effort, money and work are you willing to dedicate to it?
Now, EVALUATE YOUR DOG FOR THE SPORT!!! I know, it is a tough one, I've been there plenty. Don't try to prove a point, try to listen to what experienced trainers tell you. Reflect again... Remember, this will be YOUR success, and you will own it, so make sure your goal is something that YOU really want, because this will become your passion and you will love your journey as much as the destination! It will bring you joy and make you smile and empower you every day to get out there and meet new people and travel places and you and your dog will develop a bond like no other... Should you get a new dog? Or adjust your goal to be fair to your dog? Stay realistic, and reasonable, make it achievable, or in some cases, may be up it up a notch 😉. Only YOU can make that decision, so make it wisely, and make it now.
Getting through all the titles in 1 years was never our goal. It just happened because we were ready. Well, kind of ready with a young dog and an inexperienced trial competitor😃. I had a dream and we are now upping our game and making my dream into a goal, because Bravo has shown what it takes, and we can make it happen! Yet 2 years ago my goal with Bravo was to become as good of a trainer and handler as I can be, to avoid past mistakes I made in training and to put my best foot forward in competitions. I raised him to become the best I can make him become, with the best tools and resources I could get my hands on, in order to achieve the picture in my mind of what I want us to look like when we get out there for competitions. When it started to kind of come together, we decided to step on the trial field and give it a try...
2. GET A GOOD COACH. This part is crucial!!! Now that you are pulled full force towards your bright shiny goal, look around the Sport world carefully. I see so many people starting out all excited and ready to sponge everything. Not all sources of information will provide the right information for you. Look for someone out there who has already achieved exactly what YOUR GOAL is. This may be the world podium or a club title or even regular participation without titles yet enjoying the training with their dog and the people. Whatever it may be, make sure they are living YOUR DREAM or they've been there, respect your goal and will help you achieve it.
Don't limit your horizons to the local trainers. A good coach may or may not be your trainer. A coach is a friend who is like family who will evaluate and criticize you, give you solutions, pick you up and guide you, push you forward, challenge and inspire you. With all the virtual tools available today, we are lucky. Yes, it may also require that crazy driving, but when you make the right choice, it is well worth it in the long run and will become a fun short cut by saving you time and heartache.
I would be nowhere right now and would still be stumbling around in circles instead of going forward without my coaches!!! I am extremely fortunate to have had Joe Moldovan as my mentor for years and Diamond and Christina Hansel who are my dog's breeders, talented trainers and most importantly COACHES who put their hearts into molding this Team Bravo and became my true friends.
3. BUILD A TEAM. You need people! To follow you on the track, to report into, to spot you, to do the group, to practice the long down and later to go to trials together. If you can find someone with similar goals, someone whose company you enjoy, even better!
4. STICK TO GOOD TRAINING. Each day, most days, step by step, a little at a time get out there and do it. This will get results when you don't just put in work, but put in good work... Listen to your coach and/or find a trainer who you trust, and stick to the program! No training sometimes is better than bad training. Don't confuse yourself and your dog trying all different things all the time and jumping around, this will lead to conflict and mistakes to be fixed later. Once you have your program, that is your map to navigating to your goal. There will be stops and detours and accidents of course, but you will navigate in the right direction!
Don't just train for the next title. Train for what your goal is. Titles will come when you and your dog are ready...
If you don't have a club or a training group, stay on track and stay motivated with online learning. You can be a part of the virtual community through Facebook group and membership courses, where you are held accountable to following your training plan. I have my support group of friends from all over the world who are there for us and we are there for them, regardless of the physical distance, and this is a part of that joy along the journey!
5. GET OUT THERE AND TRIAL. Trust me, I know this is scary. I watch so many people training and not trialing because they don't trust their dog or their training or they are too worried about being judged and not looking good out there, and they wait for it to get perfect. What is perfect in training may or may not be perfect in trials. And how else will you know what you have to work on if you don't try? Of course don't just enter when not ready, train and proof first but...the best way to see what you will need to work on with a young dog is to put your training to test. It has to be together, but don't wait forever to make it perfect. Most likely it will not be anyway first time. Go out there and show off your dog and try to have fun with it! You will have time to work on things before your next trial. And remember, the only handlers that never had hiccups at trials are the ones who don't trial much😉.
6. TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR DOG! Both, physically and mentally. He is working very hard alongside with you, and he is the one doing most running jumping and biting. They are real athletes and just like humans, they have needs for a solid physical conditioning program. They need recovery, rest and also some fun days off away from training and just having fun being dogs. Mental stimulation and mental joy are equally important. If you don't know how to start, or want to ensure you are doing it right, and go to the next level, check out the IGP Athlete Conditioning Program on the website.
Without your dog, there is no sport, enjoy these moments together and the incredible bond you created. Play, snuggle, hang out and live in the moment. Remember, for most of us there is another life out there, the "real life", the "day to day life", and this is a hobby or Sport. For our dogs, this is their life, the one and only, here, today, right now. And it goes by fast, make the most of it each day, make each other happy, it is well worth it ❤️.