John Cox


This is a very controversial subject, so I hasten to add that what is said here, is merely what I, with my own particular temperament, have found to be most practical.


I don’t enjoy failing a test and I do enjoy qualifying. I love winning but don’t mind one bit if I come last and qualify.


I do believe one learns from one’s mistakes, but I do not believe one should create the opportunity for mistakes merely to learn from them. If one can avoid the mistake, do so.


I get nervous and can’t relax or eat a thing until the test is over.


I don’t enter competitions for pleasure. I enter in order to progress and make my dog a Champion as quickly and painlessly as possible. By nature, I am not a compulsive gambler.


I don’t like to spend every weekend away from my home and family, as dog handling/training is not my only source of pleasure.


I firmly believe their success breeds success and failure tends to have the opposite effect.


I hold the belief that the younger a dog is the quicker and more easily it learns.


Because of all the above, I don’t enter until I feel the dog is, without any doubt, ready to qualify. If I am not confident, I wait until I am. Lack of confidence is the greatest single reason for failure.


I believe our Judges should be respected and because of this, one should at all costs avoid wasting their time by “having a go”.


I have not yet fully grasped the logic behind entering ‘Open Shows’ just to get the experience.  I feel, some may think perhaps wrongfully so, that this is a dangerous rationalisation to prepare people for failure. If one doubts success don’t enter.  The rules are the same as for a Championship show and failure does not taste any sweeter.


From the onset, I train for the senior test, with the only exception that I recall, being ‘C’ Test Scent. It is therefore vital for me to qualify for ‘C’ Test as quickly as possible. When the dog has, with a reasonable degree of success, mastered all the exercises, in all the various tests and is perfect in the junior ones, I will enter Novice and CD and /or IWT 1, well knowing that should we fail, it will truthfully be due to unforeseen circumstances and a mere temporary setback.


It is a fatal error to commence training on an exercise only once one has qualified for the test.


My ultimate goal being to compete at the highest level in order to obtain Championship Status, I will seldom linger in any particular test after I have qualified at that level. This merely delays my ultimate goal, even if we just scraped our qualification. I don’t want to risk doing even worse and lose confidence, and I also want to get to the ring where my ultimate objective can be achieved asap. Having the best ‘B’ Test dog or Companion Dog in the Country, holds no attraction and could well become addictive and acceptable. It is also expensive in Silvo and the dog biscuits start going off!


The Logic of the following statement boggles the mind ‘My dog is not ready for ‘C’ Test, so I will continue to enter ‘B’ Test until such time as I qualify with a much higher mark”. This is using ‘B’ Test as an excuse for not being ready for ‘C’ Test. The quicker one gets down to strangers’ scent and concentrates on ‘C’ Test, the better. Forget ‘B’ Test, it is ancient history. The truth is, that you are procrastinating. It is an honest to goodness ‘cop out’. The most logical course of action would be, instead of continuing to travel and compete in ‘B’ Test, spend all the time you would have spent competing, getting your dog ready for ‘C’ Test.  The old saying ‘never’ put off until tomorrow, what you can do today, ‘holds very true’.


Never go backwards if you consistently fail in a Test. It is an admission of failure to go back to ‘A’ Test if you keep failing ‘B’ Test. What happens if you go back and … horror of horrors fail in ‘A’ Test!  Rather take a break and draw yourself up a specific training plan to qualify in ‘B’ Test.


What about people who enter Working Trails and Obedience and/or Jumping, simultaneously? No problem. If you have that much time to spend, enjoy it and good luck. I can see no conflict with Jumping or Carting, but one may encounter the odd possible source of confusion/conflict with Working Trials/Obedience. This could lead to loss of confidence and another ‘cop out’ with both. Once one has negotiated the junior tests in both, it may be advisable for some to concentrate on Working Trails and then Obedience or vice versa.


In theory, Obedience would be the best initial target due to time. In Working Trails, one must have access to tracking areas, tracklayers, jumps, criminals etc.  In some breeds, it is not advisable to practice ‘serious’ jumping until the dog is mature, by which time, he could have been an Obedience Champion. One can prepare the dog for Obedience Tests virtually on one’s own doorstep, and once again, only in theory… make up your Champion in short order.


If you do concentrate on either Working Trials or Obedience for Competition purposes, do not let the other discipline completely stagnate. Continue to train and keep your hand in on a less urgent but regular basis.


Many people do love entering competitions, never feel nervous and don’t get upset when they fail. At least that’s what they say, often giving comfort to a beginner who feels nervous. They are ‘old hands’ at the game, they say, don’t worry… there is always another day! Thank you. I feel much better now… Come on admit it… do you really?


Plan your competition strategy properly and make that other day, today!