Recently I’ve been in situations where several nose work students have asked if they think they are ready to move on to more advanced classes or if their dog is ready to trial.
Oh, how hard it is to say ‘no.’
Oh, how important it is to say ‘no.’
And oh, how, in retrospect, I am grateful for the instructors that I have had who have stuck to their guns and told me that I and my dogs needed more foundation work, although I did NOT want to hear what they told me.
If you and your dog are not ready, you are setting up for failure and frustration, which ultimately negatively impacts your dog. Sure, you may pass novice classes. Exciting! Except that leads to unrealistic expectations that your team is ready for higher levels.
I can’t stress enough the importance of setting a rock solid foundation for both handler and dog in any sport. Every great handler I know — and in every dog sport — still does foundation work with their dogs. Those ‘easy’ and ‘fun’ (and I’ve heard them called ‘silly’) exercises and drills give the dog and the handler skills upon which everything else builds.
From my perspective – limited though it might be – the instructors who urge you to wait, who have the honesty and courage to tell you the truth are those you can trust. Hearing ‘you are not ready’ or ‘I don’t recommend that you enter that trial’ will save you time, money and energy in the long run.