A New Way to Think About Non-Qualifying Runs

I’ve written numerous posts about my goals. How it is important that I not only qualify, but also place in many of my runs in order to earn my way to Regional, National, and ultimately International agility competitions.

But now I’m going to tell you how a non-qualifying run is the run that makes me a better trainer, handler, and competitor.

How can that be? How can a run that seemingly keeps me further from my goals make me a better anything?

Allow me to explain.

Part of what makes a competitor a good sport versus a poor sport, a champion versus a “lucky win”, is their attitude when failure pushes them back.  It has taken me many trials of failure to be able to master positive thinking.  Ironic, right?


How can failure make you a more positive thinker?  The answer, here, is obvious.  If you don’t learn to think positively after failure, you will quit.  There is no other way to look at it.  If you can not see the good, the progress, the potential in a failure, ultimately you will get so frustrated that the failure will become final.  You have no other choice but to become optimistic and determined in order to not suffer the ultimate defeat of giving up.


So, with every run that is non-qualifying, instead of focusing on the “fault” or on how this failure has put me farther from my goals, I try to find the power in my mistakes. Did my dog drop a bar?  How can I fix this? Finding the answer to a problem is progress.  Instead of being disappointed or frustrated by not qualifying, and starting a cycle of self-defeat, negative thinking, and insecurity; I have found a weakness that I can improve until it is no longer a weakness but a strength.


Not only can you improve your attitude following non-qualifying runs by finding power in your mistakes, but also in acknowledging your progress.  What did my dog do that was better in this run than in previous runs?  How does my time compare to other dogs’ times running this course?


I had one of those weekends that tests my resolve to be positive this past weekend at the 2015 Paws for a Wish AKC event.  I had three days of tests.  Beautiful runs with minor mistakes.  I felt the frustration settling in, but rather than giving in to feelings of disappointment, I found the power in my mistakes.  I saw the progress even through my failure.  And in the end, on the last day of the competition, I had a Masters Standard run that was just wonderful.  Not only was it the qualifying run I had been chasing that weekend, but it was so smooth and fast, I took first with a three second margin!  Now, that’s a success that would not have come if the previous non-qualifying runs had affected my attitude.  My non-qualifying runs are my opportunities to learn how to be a champion.




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