Credibility in Agility

I haven’t had much to say lately, having been busy with smoothing out my agility ring to perfection. If you know the Texas Hill Country, you understand the battle with ROCKS.
Anyway, this morning while I was once again dreaming of the perfect surface, scraping rocks off the ledge, I had some thoughts that have been pestering me.

Several times in the last couple of months the term ‘cred’ short for credibility has popped up.

I guess to some degree it’s how we all assign a value to someone, their word, their method, their name. Have they made a name for themselves? How much should they charge for their service? How willing are we to spend said amount to hear what they have to say?

While I’m relatively new to this sport, I’m not new to making spending choices. How do I decide which agility instructor’s class to take? If I opt to spend the high-end price for the Nationally famous trainer/handler, will I get everything I hoped out of it? In my own personal experience (limited, I confess) purchasing the high-end course does not necessarily mean you will walk away enlightened. Really, teaching a skill such as agility is a talent all on its own. Questions to ask yourself:

  • Can the instructor see the mechanics of your movement and instruct you how to improve?
  • Can they understand your dog and determine if it’s confidence or training that’s needed?
  • Are they able to lift YOU up and help you feel positive about your training?
  • Do they offer the level of preparation and direction that you need in their class?
  • Are they interested enough in your own journey to put aside theirs for that moment in time when they are teaching YOU?

If so, you have found a remarkable teacher, regardless of their ‘cred’.

It’s interesting what I found when I actually looked up the definition of the word “credibility”. Here’s what Google had listed:

cred·i·bil·i·ty ˌkredəˈbilədē/ noun
The quality of being trusted and believed in. synonyms: trustworthiness, reliability, dependability, integrity

While it’s tempting to look at someone’s accomplishments as an indicator of what you might learn from them, Credibility is more about being trusted than awarded.

Winning the big events does not automatically make a handler capable of teaching their skill to you. You have your own style, your dog has it’s own needs. You have to choose the lesson that best befits you and your dog not based on what someone else was able to do with their dog.

Do you devalue the teaching ability of a very skilled instructor because they haven’t achieved National status?

A person’s ability to teach me something really has nothing to do with how many or what sort of ribbons they have earned. Being interested in what my dog and I need has more value. Earning my trust counts the most to me.

So when you are making your purchasing decisions try to keep in mind it’s not the sparkly winnings that will be teaching you something.  Ask yourself, Is the teacher capable of instructing you in a manner that best matches what you and your dog need.

Have a great day of playing with your dog!