Info

Fenzi Dog Sports Podcast

For the last 4 years, FDSA has been working to provide high-quality instruction for competitive dog sports online, using only the most current and progressive training methods. And now we’re bringing that same focus to you in a new way. Each episode of the Fenzi Dog Sports Podcast will feature an interview with a leading name in the competitive dog sports training world, talking in depth about issues that often get overlooked by traditional training methods. We'll release a new episode every Friday, so stay tuned--and happy training!
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
2018
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2017
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2016
December


Categories

All Episodes
Archives
Categories
Now displaying: Page 1

Hi there! You've found the home of the Fenzi Dog Sports Podcast.

If you're new to podcasts, we've put together 2 short videos on how to subscribe so that the latest episode will automatically download to your phone — or you can listen below right from your computer browser. 

Click here for the iPhone Video     Click here for the Android Video

If you came to this site on accident, and you're actually looking for the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, click here to return to that site.

Want a list of all the episodes so far? 
Click here to see the episode list!

Thanks so much -- and happy training! 

Jun 23, 2017

SHOW NOTES: 

Summary:

Amanda Nelson has been traveling the country and teaching seminars for 20+ years teaching all levels of agility, with nearly all dog breeds. She focuses on teaching teamwork and how to create a strong connection between dog and handler.

She works with all styles of handling, from running with your dog to distance handling, and tailors each training session, large or small, to the dog and handler. She’s always looking to help bring out the best in each team.

Amanda’s handling system, “Cues for Q’s” works off her three base cues: Upper Body Cues, Lower Body Cues, and Verbal Cues. This system was derived from the natural cues that most dogs read and pick up quickly. Amanda teaches handlers how to use all of these cues, together, to create a customized handling system that can be tailored to their unique dog. All of these techniques have resulted in Amanda earning numerous top agility titles with her own dogs.

Links mentioned:

Next Episode: 

To be released 6/30/2017, featuring Sara Brueske.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Melissa Breau: This is Melissa Breau and you’re listening to the Fenzi Dog Sports podcast brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, an online school dedicated to providing high quality instruction for competitive dog sports using only the most current and progressive training methods.

Today we’ll be talking to Amanda Nelson. Amanda has been traveling the country and teaching seminars for 20 plus years teaching all levels of agility with nearly all dog breeds. She focuses on teaching teamwork and how to create a strong connection between the dog and the handler. She works with all styles of handling from running with your dog to distance handling and tailors each training session, large or small, to the dog and the handler. She’s always looking to help bring out the best in each team.

Amanda’s handling system, Cues for Q’s, works off her three base cues, upper body cues, lower body cues, and verbal cues. This system was derived from the natural cues that most dogs read and pick up quickly. Amanda teaches handlers how to use all of these cues together to create a customized handling system that can be tailored to their unique dog. All these techniques have resulted in Amanda earning numerous top agility titles with her own dogs. Hi, Amanda, welcome to the podcast.

Amanda Nelson: Thank you for having me. This is great.

Melissa Breau: I’m excited to chat. I’m not an agility person, so it’ll be fun to learn a little bit more about the sport and hopefully learn some things that I didn’t know before.

Amanda Nelson: Yeah.

Melissa Breau: So to start us out, do you want to just give us a little bit information about your dogs and what you’re working on with them?

Amanda Nelson: Yeah. So, in the house I actually have three dogs, but one of them belongs to my boyfriend, who’s Trip. I obviously work with him in a lot of stuff, but Jimmy runs him and competes with him and all that, so he’s in my house but he’s technically not my dog.

I have Nargles who is 8 years old, and everybody always asks me what her name is and it’s from Harry Potter because I’m a huge nerd like that, so Nargles is 8, and this season I’m working towards doing conditioning with her and getting her prepped to go to the NADAC Championships in Ohio in October, so that’s my focus with her this year. Then I’m also working towards earning her Platinum Speed title, which is a NADAC title that consists of...it’s a certain number of runs that all have to be extremely fast. In NADAC there’s DRI which is the dog’s run index, and you earn so many DRI points kind of for how fast your dog goes and a Platinum Speed Star, an award, that focuses on how fast your dog is. So I’m working on running that with her this year as well as taking her to the NADAC Championships.

And then Allons-y, again, I’m a bit of a nerd, so Allons-y is from Dr. Who, that’s where her name comes from, I call her Ally for short. She’s 4 years old this year, and her main goal and my main goal I guess with her is prepping her for the NADAC Championships, so that’ll be her first year competing in that, but I want to take her...and I’m not focused on winning as much as I’m just really wanting to go and experience the atmosphere of it and have a good time. So, I’m doing a lot of prep work with her and bigger agility trials, and let her get used to atmosphere of all the dogs and all the people and all that sort of stuff, and then just working on her skills that she’ll need for the championships themselves.

Melissa Breau: Now, are they Border Collies? Are they Shelties?

Amanda Nelson: Yes. All three are all Border Collies, yes.

Melissa Breau: Okay, Border Collie household, for sure, huh?

Amanda Nelson: That’s right, yes.

Melissa Breau: So how did you get started in dog sports? What was kind of the beginning for you?

Amanda Nelson: I’ve actually been involved in dog stuff and dog sports since I was extremely young. I actually did obedience with my Cocker Spaniel when I was I think maybe like 4 or 5 years old. My mom was very much into obedience at that time and then she later was very much into agility, so I kind of grew up with it. So I started, like I said, with my Cocker in obedience and then agility kind of really started taking off and it was a lot of fun. So I had a corgi also, named Sunny, and I started with her in agility. We did USDA. I competed in the European Nationals many times with her. I think I started doing agility when I was like 6 or 7. I don’t remember a lot of it, but there’s pictures to prove it, so I can only remember bits and pieces every now and then.

Melissa Breau: So you definitely grew up in this world, so to speak.

Amanda Nelson: That is right. That is right.

Melissa Breau: What kind of Cocker was it, an English Cocker, American Cocker?

Amanda Nelson: American Cocker.

Melissa Breau: Okay, okay. My grandmother breeds English Cockers so I’ve always kind of followed Cocker Spaniels. They have a special spot in my heart, so...

Amanda Nelson: Oh, that’s very cool, very cool.

Melissa Breau: So, starting off in obedience a while ago, have you always been a positive trainer? If not, kind of what got you started down that path?

Amanda Nelson: So at heart I know I’ve always been a positive trainer. I’m pretty sure I took some detours now and then, you know, as I learned. I try to surround myself with people who are also positive trainers, but I would have to say that I really...you know, because I started so young you kind of just do as everybody else is doing sort of thing, but I really wanted to start training my own dog.

I had a Border Collie before Try and he was 10 and I did agility with her, but I don’t remember really training her, if that make sense because I was young. Try was my first dog that I really...I had her from when she was a puppy and she was really, you know, I trained her I guess - as odd as that sounds. Honestly, my mom helped a lot with my dogs when I was younger, so Try I felt like was my first, I’m going to train her, train her, you know?

And so, I just went in to want to read all these books and I had this cute little angel puppy and she was...she really, really loved clickers and shaping, and I really started getting into it because she loved it so much that she had thought that that was the coolest thing in the whole wide world, so then that really shoved me into the positive world and I just wanted to immerse myself in everything. And so, any book I could get my hands on, YouTube videos, anything I could do to learn more for her I guess, and really I wanted her to be so happy, and then that kind of...I started bringing it into agility, you know?

She didn’t really at that point in time, the way I was teaching the weave poles, like it didn’t work for her, like she didn’t get it, and I’m like, well, I don’t understand why we’re not getting it. So, I started doing all this shaping with the weave poles and then all this targeting and stuff like that and I’m like, oh, my gosh, she really likes this. So I started, you know, what else could I do in agility that I could shape, and that really opened a lot of doors and it also opened my eyes to...then also like a lot of the business work that I do, shaping is a huge part of it now because it really brings it into the dog’s realm that they can...they’re learning.

You know, it’s not just kind of a forced thing, and I don’t say that in a negative way like I’m dragging the dogs out there forcing them, but more of the dogs are making their choice. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but they’re making that choice. They’re being shaped and going, okay, I’m going to go out here and do this and my, you know, Amanda really likes that so I get a click, you know that sort of thing, and she really, really opened the door for that.

She was the kind of dog that any sort of correction, even just me kind of going, oh, you know, and I can’t help it sometimes, you know, something would happen and I go, oh. She would really take it to heart, so I really learned that she liked all that positive, and it really changed the way I looked at things and the way the dogs look at how I could teach something.

Melissa Breau: As someone who hasn’t really done much in the agility world, I definitely did a little bit of research before we had got on the call and it seemed like you can be pretty heavily in NADAC? Did I pronounce that right?

Amanda Nelson: Yes, you did.

Melissa Breau: So, would you mind talking a little bit about how that differs from some of the other agility organizations out there and maybe why it appeals to you so much?

Amanda Nelson: So a lot of focus within NADAC is it’s floating courses that test the dog’s ability to collect and extend. So for example, it might be a really kind of open wide sequence that then comes into a really tight serpentine or pinwheel and it goes back into this really fast extended sequence. So NADAC really focuses on testing the dog’s ability to really extend, really stride out, and then collect in for this nice tight sequence, and then really extend out again, and it tests the handler’s ability to read those sequences, to read, okay, I need my dog to really extend and go fast through this loop here and then run in to collect, collect, collect, and do this really technical sequence here, and now I want them to extend again.

So I like the variety as far as, you know, there’s definitely dog tests I guess on the course as far as testing the dog’s ability to do that kind of collection/extension, and then it tests the handler’s ability to know the dog, know what the dog needs, and to read those sequences.

NADAC also has some focus in distance handling and they have awards aimed at the distance handling, and that’s something that I’ve done for a long time and I really...again with Try, she loved doing that distance work, so NADAC also was a big part of that and I could do a lot of that big distance stuff that she really liked and we liked doing it together as a team.

So, I like the variety with NADAC, but I can go out and I can run right with my dog and be with her and do that sort of thing, and then the next course I look at and go, oh, I’m going to try a distance on this one and I can now work on distance skills all at the same trial, so I really like that variety within NADAC, but I can do different things with my dog whether it’s distance or running with them and looking at the course for those collection/extension sequences and all that sort of fun stuff.

Melissa Breau: Just having watched some distance handling type stuff, it’s just so cool when you see somebody who, you know, they can send the dog out and they have good control and the dog’s doing the things in the right order and you have that distance, it’s just really an impressive skill to watch, it’s really pretty to watch.

And I know that one of your specialties at FDSA is teaching distance, so I wanted to ask a little bit about the kind of skills that a team needs, I guess partly as a team, right, but also just like what skills the dog needs before they can start to introduce distance into their training and before they can really...what they need to be successful with that, right? I would imagine it needs some special skills.

Amanda Nelson: Yeah. So there’s many different ways to teach distance and the way that I do it is my whole philosophy with distance handling is it has a very unique skill in the fact that you’re asking the dog to move away from you and that can be moving out of their comfort zone, and so confidence plays a humungous part in everything I do with my dogs which kind of goes back into all that shaping and clicker training stuff that I do, is that I want my dogs to be super, super confident. I want them to be confident in my handling, confident in their skills, you know, they’d know how to do dog up, they’d know how to do a jump, all that sort of stuff.

So when I start working with a new handler or a new dog or even someone who’s been competing but they want to start introducing distance, the first thing that we sit down and do is like, okay, now let’s see where is your dog at and what is their confidence level at. Are they okay 5 feet away, 10 feet away, you know, where’s their limit? And if say their limit is at 10 feet and their handler really wants them to be 15 feet away, we’re going to build the dog’s confidence up at 10 feet.

And my biggest thing is because of that confidence I want my dogs to trust my handling, I want them to be confident in my handling. So for example, if I tell my dogs “out” and I want them to...out means for them to move out away from me. So I tell them out, and so they understand that, and let’s say I’m at a trial and I’ve forgotten all the core skills, so I’ve said out but in all reality I actually need them coming in towards me and I’m like, oh, no, I’ve given them the wrong cue.

So my reaction and almost all reactions, the same reaction happens for every handler, is you know we’re trying to save that cue so we’re going, no, no, no, no, come in, come in, come in, you know, and we’ll try to save it and get the dog in, and dogs are forgiving and dogs are awesome so they’ll just turn on a dime and come in, but what happens with that is then the dogs don’t trust their handling anymore. You know, we’ve said out, they’re going out, but now in our heads we’re telling ourselves, oh, I screwed up, I screwed up, I needed to say “come in”, but in the dog’s head they’re viewing it as, well, she said out, I went out, and now she’s saying no, no, no, come in, and so that’s what kind of chips away at that trust.

So the first thing I really, really get into with all my students is if you’ve given a wrong cue sometimes you just have to suck it up and go and know that you just lost that run, but you’re going to gain ten more down the road because if the dog doesn’t have confidence in our cues then when we do need that distance and we tell our dog out I never want my dog to look back at me and go are you sure? Like I just want them, when I say out they go, yeah, all right, here we go, she means it, you know, and off we go. So that’s a big thing.

I do lots of ground work. I use road cones and teach my dogs a lot of confidence work around just the road cones because it’s a nice, easy ground work exercise, and also teaches me, myself, and all my students, the timing that they need for all their cues. I teach them the speed the dogs are going to run, and it’s all about equipment so that we’re not also working toward dog knocks a bar and it’s like oh, no, no, we have to fix that. We can just focus on getting our dogs to move out away from us and build that confidence. That’s basically my training philosophy. Everything revolves around confidence.

Melissa Breau: No, I mean that makes total sense because especially when, you know speed is also important and obviously agility, speed is important. Getting a dog to move away from you and not doubt. If they doubt you they’re going to move slower than if they believe that they’re doing the right thing. So even if the dog did come in right, like you might have shaved some seconds the wrong direction...

Amanda Nelson: Exactly. Exactly.

Melissa Breau:...your next run. So, even though I haven’t done agility I do Tribal and that’s also kind of a distance sport, and I know that for me when I was training distance, reward placement was just so important to kind of get that confidence and get the dog to understand, you know, to stay out there and not come back in for a treat, so I’d assume that was a big part for you for training agility too. Do you want to speak to that a little bit and talk about...I mean you can totally correct me if I’m wrong too, you know, I’m kind of guessing a little bit but...

Amanda Nelson: No, no, reward placement is huge, huge, huge, which is why I love using toys when it comes to distance work and it’s super easy, you’ll be able to pass that toy out there, reward at a distance, you’re either handler talking or get toy placed down or something like that. You have to understand they maybe aren’t a big fan of toys, they only want food which Ally absolutely hates toys, she has zero interest in them, but she loves food so for her, you know, reward can be a little bit difficult with her because my other dogs, you know, they love going after the toys so it makes it “a little bit easier.”

With Ally I use those Lotus balls, you know, and they’re Velcro, kind of open, you can put food in, so I use those as some I would be able to...she does a really nice distance sequence. I can either have it placed out there for her out away from me or she can then open it up and get her treat, or a lot of times I just always carry one on me so if she does something really awesome out there at a distance, I can just toss that toy and reward right there. I also have students that the Lotus ball, it does not work for them. Either the handlers don’t really like tossing it, maybe the dogs don’t like it, that sort of thing, so even tossing food is good.

I still vary my rewards because a lot of times, at least with something like distance they get so focused on all this distance and distance and distance, and so they reward  all this distance out-away, out-away, out-away, which is great but there are some courses where the dog has to come in, and so sometimes we get a little bit stuck on, oh, my gosh, I’m not going to let my dog out there and the dog gets used to always being say 10, 15 feet away from a handler, but then when we go out of sequence where they need to be say 5 feet within the handler the dogs don’t want to come in.

So, I still do kind of vary my rewards in that sometimes they will come in to me for a treat so that we’re still kind of keeping a nice balance between my dog going really far out and staying out away from me or coming in, but I would say I definitely reward out-away a lot more than I do next to me because I want them again it’s all about that confidence. I want my dogs to feel confident and high reinforcement way out there away from me as well.

Melissa Breau: Yeah, some dogs really struggle with distance and building that confidence to go out there. I have seen that in my own sport, and I think it’s kind of neat that reward placement really can make a huge difference in just communicating and building that confidence.

So I wanted to ask if there was a particular aspect of distance training or really kind of anything in what you do that people usually struggle with, and if you kind of walk us through a little bit how you might problem solve that or some of the solutions you might try out. Just kind of give people a sense of what you teach and how you teach it. Is there anything that jumps out at you?

Amanda Nelson: Yeah. So for me I would say across the board the biggest aspect that I see with all handlers whenever they want to get into distance is they want to stop all movement. They get nervous, especially if there’s a Gamblers line on the ground or _____(20:01) or something like that, and they see that line and we just stop dead.

So a lot of...the way I handle and the way I teach is all based on my body. So my lower body, my feet, are...that’s what creates impulsion. So even, you know, like my videos I use it a lot because people say, “oh, you tell us when we have to keep moving, but your video doesn’t, you know, you’re not.” But I am. It just has to be, even if it’s a small non-movement, even if it’s just one step, one step, you’re still creating movement, and dogs if they see us just kind of come to that brick wall, you know, when we stop right at that line, well, that’s cueing a collection, you’re telling them to stop. So what I try to tell my students all the time is if you want your dog’s feet to move, your feet need to move. It doesn’t mean you have to race them, it doesn’t mean you have to run. Even the smallest step, that motion is going to help them continue to move and continue to push out there.

So again, back to road cones, I do tons of work with footwork for the handlers teaching them, you know, I want you to practice this distance, but you need to always kind of be moving a little bit, you know, always be creating a little bit of motion in your lower body so your dog will continue to read that. And I do a lot of work laying lines on the ground and teaching handlers not to be scared of them, they don’t have to stop right at them, and even staying off that line just by a foot gives you that little bit of cushion that you can still kind of push it on up and they get a little bit of movement, and I would say that to me is the biggest aspect because dogs naturally read our body language.

You know, when you take a little 8-week-old puppy and you start to walk, they’re going walk with you and you stop, they stop, you know, they naturally will read it, whereas we can teach distance with just a verbal cue and teach the dogs to get out there. I know many distance handlers that don’t use a lot of body language, it’s all verbal, and they do extremely well, but it’s a taught skill, it’s not natural to the dog, and I like to do as much natural stuff as I can for the dog so that it makes things easier, and I think for both of us as a team it just makes things easier. I don’t have to teach something that is harder for both me and the dog to teach them, okay, I’m standing perfectly still, but I want you to drive out 30 feet, and it’s harder on the dog and it goes again back to that confidence. It’s harder to gain that confidence when the dog doesn’t feel that level of support from their handler, so I would say that’s the hardest thing that I’ve across with handlers and it’s just a matter of just muscle memory. You know, teach them that you really...it’s okay. You can keep moving at that speed, you’ll be okay, sort of silly -- the line is not going to bite you, I swear.

Melissa Breau: So I mentioned in the bio, and I mean you talked about it a little bit there in that last answer that you have your Cues for Q’s handling system, and I want to make sure we talk about that a little bit more. You kind of mentioned the idea of adapting to what the dog does naturally and building on that, but can you explain the concept a little bit more and maybe touch on how the system can allow a team to really create their own unique handling system?

Amanda Nelson: I kind of break things down into...I have lower body cues, upper body cues, and then my verbal cues. So my lower body cues, that should be basically my primary cue, that should be the first thing my dog sees. So I always want to point my feet or point my foot, you know, if you’re running you’re not going to be able to point both feet at the same time, but point this way where you want your dog to go, so that’s going to be kind of their first cue. Your foot is pointing at that jump you want them to take.

And then your upper body is going to define that cue. Do you want them really continue to push, you’re going to have your arm out because you’re really driving them down that line, or is your dog closer to your body because we’re going to collect after that jump? So your upper body is kind of defining what your lower body is doing, and then your verbal cue should be kind of backing that whole thing up.

So, the picture that I would want to see is if I have a student who, they need to do an out-tunnel is that their foot should be pulling at the tunnel, the hand should be pulling in at the tunnel, and then their verbal cue should be backing all that up by saying out or whatever cue that student uses.

Where I go from there is that I don’t feel that every dog can handle the same way. I’ve had multiple dogs and worked with multiple students’ dogs and run student's dogs, that every dog is unique, every dog is different, and not everything is going to be exactly the same, you know? Like I have all Border Collies and every single one of them is different. I handle every single one of them different. They don’t all just kind of come out of the cookie cutter that just because they’re Border Collies this is the way I’m going to handle them, you know, they’re all very, very different.

So I can adapt this handling system into something that works for each dog. So for example, Trip, that my boyfriend runs, he is much more dependent on Jimmy’s upper body, then he has his feet, and he was trained, you know, all my dogs go through the same foundation training as every other one before them and one after, and Trip and Ally, the two youngest, they were trained in exactly the same way, but for some reason Trip just, he responds better to upper body. So we just adapt the handling a little bit into, okay, instead of Jimmy’s foot is now pointing where we want to go, we really focus on his upper body. His arm really needs to be pointing, this is the jump we’re going to take, and then his feet then become more of a defining cue and not a verbal, if that makes sense. So it just kind of swaps the order.

Whereas now Ally, Ally 100 percent reads off my lower body and then upper body is her defining cue, and what she doesn’t like, and maybe it’s just a phase she’s going through, it’s a teenager phase, she does not like to hear me talk. So verbals cues are just a no-go for her. Every time I say something to her like go or something like that, she barks or she gets a little angry or yeah, I feel like we’re having a teenager stage, you know, don’t tell me what to do. So, for her I use very little verbal cues and she reads my lower body like there’s no tomorrow, you know, she’ll pick up that foot cue and she just goes with it.

So, we just mold and adapt things within that. I have my students kind of follow the base of it, you know, most dogs are going to read your foot and here’s your arm and your verbal, but I let my students pick. They can use any verbal they want as long as it makes sense to them and it makes sense to the dog. They can say spaghetti for all I care as long as it works for them and we all understand it and that’s awesome. I want them to be happy.

My biggest thing and I guess I learned this years and years and years ago. I taught a seminar and I was working with this woman who just, you could tell she was struggling, like she was just having a hard time, she couldn’t get her cues out right, and her handling was very stiff, and so I sat and talked to her, like what’s going on? What’s the issue? She’s like, well, I’ve been taught that I need to handle like A, B or C and I need to do this and I’m like, well, but it’s not working. You know, you’re not happy, which in turn is now making your dog not happy. So I said what would you like to do? Let’s talk about it. So she had shown me and said, okay, now this is how I wanted him. I’m like, well, let’s do that. As long as it works for you and your dog let’s do that.

So my biggest thing is take kind of the baseline basically, you know, here’s how most dogs respond to things, but then mold it into what you like and what works for you. You know, just like Jimmy and Trip, if I were to force them and say no, no, no, you must use your leg and that is what’s going cue him, but if he doesn’t like that, you know, if the dog doesn’t respond and that doesn’t work for him then it’s just a constant battle.

So my biggest thing when I’m teaching any seminar or anything online is my poor students have to hear me say and over and over again, do what works for you and your dog. Don’t get caught up in this, that, or the other that you saw online or whatever. Take something, take an idea and go, okay, how can I make this work for me and my dog, how can I mold that into a training idea or how I handle that makes sense to me and my dog because a Bulldog is not going to remember the same as a Border Collie and they should be handled and trained in each of their own unique way basically.

Melissa Breau: Right. So you kind of mentioned that each dog has their own unique handling system. Is it hard as a handler to have two dogs with a slightly different...I mean I know you mentioned your boyfriend’s dog, but your down dogs I’d assume and also slightly different. Is it hard as a handler to remember which dog you’re handling?

Amanda Nelson: Extremely...extremely hard. So, yeah, I ran with Nargles and like I said, Ally, I’m assuming it’s a phase, perhaps doesn’t like my talking, but Nargles on the other hand loves it, she likes the verbal. So sometimes I’ll work in the ring and I’ll start talking to Ally and she starts barking... I’m like, oh, wrong dog. It is extremely hard and I know I forget and I’m actually working with a student online right now who has two dogs and they are like night and day and she is just having a hell of a time. I’m like, well, you know, when you figure it out you let me know because...

Melissa Breau: I’d imagine that’s the hardest part in some ways because like you said, part of it is muscle memory and you’re trying to teach yourself to remember to do the same things and be consistent for your dog and when you have two different dogs who want to do things differently you have to learn two sets of muscle memory. Oh, goodness, it’s funny.

So, I want to end the episode the same way I kind of end most of the episodes which is asking you what’s the dog-related accomplishment that you’re proudest of?

Amanda Nelson: Oh, my gosh. So the 2011 NADAC Championship I won and it is one of the proudest accomplishments I have. So I was competing against Super Stakes which is a distance class, and it’s a very, very hard distance class. Most of the time the distance challenges, your dog is 60 feet, if not 80 feet away from you, extremely hard, and I was competing. It was in Springfield, Illinois and my friend Sunny and I were competing and I was running Try, and we were basically kind of going back and forth between first and second and her and I were probably both having absolutely the best weekend of our lives in dog agility terms, like she was on, I was on. Her dog, Vanessa, we train together all the time, so it was just awesome to go out, and I would  have this amazing run and then out comes Sunny and she would have this amazing run. It was absolutely fantastic.

So we ran in the finals. I ran first and oh, my God, it was just a fantastic run, an amazing connection I had with Try. It was one of my best runs. To date it still was one of the best runs I ever had with her. Sunny and her dog, Vanessa, ran after me and they again...it was an amazing breathtaking run and we were 24 seconds apart and Sunny ended up winning. It was the most amazing weekend of my life as far as I just every...you know, four days is how long the championships are, and the level of connection that Try and I had that weekend was absolutely amazing, and to lose to my friend was fantastic.

For her to have such a fantastic weekend as well was just awesome, and that second place ribbon, I love that second place ribbon because every time I look at it all I can think about is we were on fire that whole weekend. It was just such an amazing weekend and competing there with my friend, who was also having the best weekend of her life, it was just one of those things that is just amazing. So I have to say it’s not a title or award or anything like that. It’s my happiest second place ribbon I’ve ever gotten.

Melissa Breau: That’s awesome. Sometimes, you know, there’s really something to be said for the relationships you form in the sports world, right, and you’re cheering on your friends and  your teammates and your training buddies and it’s not always just about you and your own dog, but that’s awesome.

Amanda Nelson: Yeah.

Melissa Breau: Well, my favorite question of the whole series always, what is the best piece of training advice that you’ve ever heard?

Amanda Nelson: So this is again from Sunny, she told me just to let it go. I feel like I should start singing Frozen or something. You know, things are going to happen, mistakes are going to happen, you know, what kind of mistake you had as a handler is a mistake you had as a trainer, you know, stuff is going to happen and just let it go because if you keep dwelling on it, you keep thinking about it, you keep beating yourself up over, oh, my gosh, I would’ve handled that differently or if my dog hadn’t missed that contact, you know? Learn from it. Learn from it, move on, and just let it go and think about your next run.  That’s the best training advice I’ve ever had.

Melissa Breau: And finally, who is someone else in the dog world that you look up to?

Amanda Nelson: I would say all of my students. Every time I teach a seminar and in all my classes, all of that, I learn so much from all my students. They inspire me every day to be a better handler, a better trainer. Even I’m in the middle of a Fenzi class I’m teaching right now, I am learning so much from them. The questions they ask, you know, they’ll ask me a question like, oh, you know what, there’s probably a different way to teach this and it brings about how we can approach things differently, how we can train things differently.

I have to say working on all of those awesome people, they inspire me and I look up to every one of them, you know, how we can train different things, you know, all that sort of stuff I just...as corny as it sounds, it’s probably all of my students. I love every single one of them and they do, they truly inspire me to be better, to just be better in general.

Melissa Breau: That’s not corny at all, it’s sweet. Well, thank you so much for coming on the podcast, Amanda. It was great to get to chat and to learn a little bit more about what you do. And thanks to all of our listeners for tuning in.

Amanda Nelson: Well, thank you so much. This was fantastic.

Melissa Breau: Yeah, it’s always good to learn a little bit more about some of the different sports out there, and agility is pretty mainstream but it’s still new to me. And we’ll be back next week, this time with Sara Brueske to talk training and competing for disc sports. If you haven’t already, subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or the podcast app of your choice to have our next episode automatically downloaded to your phone as soon as it becomes available.

CREDITS:

Today’s show is brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Special thanks to Denise Fenzi for supporting this podcast. Music provided royalty-free by BenSound.com; the track featured here is called “Buddy.” Audio editing provided by Chris Lang and transcription written by CLK Transcription Services.

Thanks again for tuning in -- and happy training!