The Time For Dog Sports Is NOT NOW

Training Philosophy

The Time For Dog Sports Is NOT NOW

dog agility

A sizable portion of my audience participates in one or more dog sports. I do agility myself, and the thrill I get out of training, challenging myself and improving alongside my dogs is wonderful. I cannot imagine life without running next to them, and it is not easy to hold back and wait – for an indefinite amount of time – until we can train again with our friends.

What kind of impact should COVID-19 make on your dog sport? A profound one.

How Important Is This, Really?

dogwalk agility

In the past 10 days, we have seen very different reactions to the current worldwide health crisis among dog sport competitors. There is a big part who has been self-isolating, canceling classes and skipping trials.

Unfortunately, there are smaller groups that are still going strong in keeping up with their weekly training plans and schedules. That are undeterred maybe because there have not been a lot of local cases (yet?), and that do not see what is so dangerous about training together (especially outside!).

It is time we look at the worst-case outcomes of all scenarios, and decide if dog sports are really worth it.

What’s The Worst-Case Outcome?

When deciding whether or not to gather to train together, there are two options regarding viral spread.

#1 – you are lucky and no one in you training group is currently infected. Training together, chatting afterwards, even sharing drinks will have zero danger for everyone involved.

#2 – you are less lucky and one or more members of your training group is infected and spreading the virus. Everyone in your group will potentially get sick.

Nobody knows which scenario applies. At this point, every person around you is a mystery black box as far as infectiousness is concerned.

If we are lucky enough to have #1 be true, and you decide to not train, then the worst-case outcome is – missed training sessions.

If #2 is true and you decide to train, the worst-case outcome is that every single person in your group gets sick, potentially very very sick, and that everybody also spreads the virus to a large amount of other people.

Let’s Compare …

Let’s take our two worst-case scenarios and look at them side-by-side.

On the one hand, there is missing out on trainings that you could have participated in. On the other hand, there is exponential spread of a very dangerous virus that will lead to death or permanent lung damage in some people.

This is not such a difficult choice to make. Say no to training together.

dog agility tunnel

Why Is This So Hard?

As humans, we strive so much to get the best out of every situation. We do not do well restricting ourselves for the sake of potentially avoiding risk. We like to dodge guaranteed hazards, and at the same time carry on doing what we enjoy doing for as long as it’s possible.

Essentially, this is our response to intermittent punishment. Not every single person will catch the Coronavirus. That’s why many people pretend it is not them that will catch it, and try to get the most out of life while making mediocre attempts to avoid getting sick.

We suck at refraining from behaviors managed by intermittent punishment.

That’s why everyone goes 68mph in a 65mph zone. This is why we sometimes park where we are not allowed and hope we don’t get ticketed.

It’s actually a characteristic that has allowed us to be vastly successful in history. It’s a characteristic that our dogs show as well. But now is not the time to live life to the fullest while narrowly escaping punishment.

This Is About Every One Of Us.

Nobody, absolutely no one is guaranteed to do well with this virus.

I’m looking at you; young, fit and healthy competitors. I’m one of you.

We’re not invincible.

We could do very poorly with this. And we all have older family members, friends that are immunocompromised, neighbors who are going through cancer treatment or instructors who have an underlying condition.

We need to pull together to protect everyone. No dog sports for a while.

We Will Play Again

high five

This will not go on forever. It may be many months before we can once again train together. But it will not be forever.

We will play again, and cheer each other on and give high fives without being afraid. Every one of us has the power to make it happen. I want to see all my friends again, every single one. I want to see their dogs again.

We all can make it happen.

The time for dog sports is not now, but it will come again.