How Agility Training Has Helped Me Overcome Business Obstacles

I started agility training because it helps me to get exercise and clear my mind. It is a great way to enjoy my time away from the computer. I have learned a lot about myself through training my Dachshund, Roxie. The main goal in dog agility is to run your dog through an obstacle course. You are competing for accuracy and time. I’ve been able to carry these lessons into my business life as well. Continue reading to find out more about agility training and how it relates to business life.

agility training tire

Overcoming Obstacles – Business Lessons Learned from Agility Training

Here are a few of the exercises that Roxie and I have had to practice and how agility training has helped me overcome business obstacles.

agility training bar

Bar Jump: The bar jump is when the dog has to leap over a bar that is raised to a certain height. When you want to teach your pet the bar jump, it is recommended that you use an adjustable bar. That way you can start off low and as your pet becomes a little more comfortable with the obstacle you can slowly raise the bar. You have to do the same when you are faced with obstacles that slow down your business. Take it one step at a time and slowly raise the bar. You wouldn’t want to try to train your pet to jump the highest bar if he has never done a bar jump, would you? You have to slowly raise the bar and meet the obstacles to success on the way.

agility training tunnel

Tunnel: The tunnel is open at both ends and the dog must walk through one end and make his way out to the next with no interruption. The tunnel is like the place of the un-known. Your pet may not know what to expect. It’s dark and foreign; they might be hesitant at first. To train your dog to walk through the tunnel, scrunch it down to make it shorter. Then as they become familiar with it, you can lengthen it. As your pet begins to venture through, your job is to be that leading voice at the end of the tunnel. The same goes for your business. Be the voice of reason for your employees and vendors. Guide them through dark tunnels with a voice of strength, wisdom and confidence.

Weave Poles: In this task, the dog must go in and out of a set of poles. Weave poles can be the most difficult obstacles to train your dog. It will take a lot of time, practice and patience. As you can see, I have a Dachshund and by nature they are very stubborn and training them is a challenge. So, we mastered the weave poles with frequent practices in short intervals. I give her a lot of praise and recognition when she successfully completes a course. You should do the same for those who help you run your business. Be encouraging and always recognize your employees’ achievements. I find that recognition awards make great motivators. Groups and teams should also make it a habit to encourage and praise one another.

Pause Table: The pause table is a table the dog must jump onto then sit and wait for 5-10 seconds before moving on to the next task. I like to compare the pause table to break time. You can be so wrapped up in your work that you have to almost “train” yourself to pause for a second. In agility training we teach our dogs to stay on the table for up to 10 seconds. This can be a difficult interruption when you have been running a course. Dachshunds have a mind of their own so having them follow directions can be very tough. So once you get them on a roll having them pause can be a challenging task. In business the same thing can happen especially when you are trying to beat the clock. However, it is important to stop and recharge your brain so that you can continue with a refreshed and focused mind.

Agility traing is great exercise for my dog and I. There are many fitness items aid to my success with Roxie, I like to use pedometers to track my steps and always have a water bottle handy. We all need something to do outside of our business to keep life interesting and so that we have something to look forward to after a hard day at work.

agility training teeter

Teeter: The teeter is like a See-saw. A dog and easily lose confidence with this one. It takes concentration and balance. When training your pet to go over a teeter it is suggested that you have a friend on the other side help you guide your dog across. Like in business, the teeter is a balancing act. There are times where we don’t know if we are up or down and we may feel like we are standing in the middle of a teeter. We have to hold steady and stay focused until the end. And don’t be afraid to ask for advice and guidance from a friend who is already at the other end.

Obstacles: There are other obstacles that we have trained for, as you will see in my videos. A few of the lessons I have learned come from agility training in general and not just from each course exercise. Dachshunds are not your typical agility dogs. In business you have to deal with people that are not always pleasant to work with but you get through it with patience and ambition. Dachshunds are hound dogs and they always have their nose in the ground. Just like how some of your employees maybe pre-occupied and distracted you have to keep them on the right track. One of the hardest things for me in agility training is memorizing the obstacle course. You are only given 8 minutes to walk it through and your competition might not be for an hour later. This can make the competition very stressful but in the end, all of the hard work that we put in is well worth it.

The size and the length of the obstacles can be very overwhelming for Roxie and I. It takes a lot of time to build up to the confidence it takes to run the course. It’s not easy. In business we have to overcome a lot of obstacles in order to be successful. The bottom line is that with practice, patience, perseverance and recognition we can build the confidence and strength to overcome any business obstacle.

Here is a video of my trainer running with Roxie:

Here is a video of me running with Roxie:

There are many techniques that I learned from agility training that I in turn have been able to use to overcome business obstacles. What obstacles in life and business have you had to overcome? What helped you to accomplish them? What challenges you and your business? Do you have an activity outside of work that helps you to recharge? I would love to hear from you!

68 thoughts on “How Agility Training Has Helped Me Overcome Business Obstacles

  1. Arleen, I wasn’t at all surprised to note that one of the first things you list is patience. I can’t see how you could ever get the bar jump or the weave poles done without it and the same is certainly true for business success. We can be so eager to achieve our goals that we forget it can only come with hard work and patience.

    Great analogy by the way, you mentioned the agility training in the past but I’ve never seen it. It was fun seeing you and Roxie at work. That looks like a great way to get a work out.
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  2. Well, this post got my attention and our cockapoo, Dino’s attention. Dino was sacked out on the couch, but woke up and started looking around when he heard the dogs barking on the video. A friend of ours has Portuguese Water dogs and had a stroke, but despite still being paralyzed on one side, he is back out competing in agility trials with his dog. I’ve obviously, let myself be completely distracted by the dog story. 😉 You did find a good metaphor for the points you wanted to make about aspects of our human jobs. All I can say is that it’s a good thing I’m not a dog. I would have to fire myself.
    Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer) recently posted…First Day of College — First Day of the Empty NestMy Profile

    • Suzanne- I am sure Roxie would love to fire me but I am the boss and she has no choice. Most people don’t realize that the trials are sanctioned by the American Kennel Club and is becoming one of the fastest growing sport. After the Agility Nationals in the USA, you then compete in the World Team with countries all over the world. Of course that is one obstacle I could never achieve. They also don’t allow a 4 inch dog so I good there. I am happy we were able to entertain the family. I see many people with disabilities doing agility. It is a great sport for you and your dog.
      Arleen recently posted…How Agility Training Has Helped Me Overcome Business Obstacles My Profile

  3. I lost my patience going to college. It comes back in spurts but I don’t know if I’ll ever be as patient as I was in my youth.

    I started my exercise journey going slow with Tai Cheng and am working my way up to more difficult routines. If I had started fast (P90X or Insanity) I wouldn’t be having success with my weight loss. I probably would’ve given up.
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  4. Arleen,
    This article sheds a lot of light on your business practices and knowledge. I am impressed. Though I have never been into actually training my dogs, I have always had dogs – I have one right now who has a bionic leg – from surgery, after being hit by a car in 2011, performed by Dr. Maynard Pullen of Scottsdale Animal Surgical Center – he used to get his own exercise by jumping our 6 foot fence! Our two dogs are from the same litter and are rescue dogs – we got them from the humane society in 2005.

  5. Hi Arlene,

    Those are great videos!! I love dogs. I’m more of a dog person than a cat person. We used to have a german shepherd and I have trained that dog from beginning to advance training. It was time consuming but it’s all worth it. But she is now gone. She died just last year and now, we’re trying to get another german shepherd pup. Not to train in agility but just a guard dog. Anyway…

    In training, PATIENCE is number one. You have to have a lot of patience with your pet in order to achieve the things you want done. And it’s same in business. This is a great analogy of agility to overcoming your business obstacles.

    Great post. 🙂

    Angela
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  6. First off Arleen, Roxie is darn adorable. How precious and looks like Roxie minds really well.

    I love the examples of how this obstacle course and what we encounter along the way can compare to our business. My sister-in-law has done this with one of her dogs so I use to watch them and think some of these same thoughts myself.

    Love your videos and what a great job Roxie did. Thank you so much for sharing those with us.

    ~Adrienne
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    • Adrienne- Thank you Roxie is a love and what makes it so hard to train because she is so cute. Agility may look easy but it isn’t. The obstacles are hard for both of us. I may not be jumping over the jumps or taking the teeter or climbing the A frame but I am running with her and giving her direction. Isn’t that what we do in business everyday.I guess it is good training for me also.
      Arleen recently posted…How Agility Training Has Helped Me Overcome Business Obstacles My Profile

  7. Go Roxie! This post brings to mind Dory’s phrase from Finding Nemo, “Just Keep Swimming.” As long as we keep moving forward, we eventually get through the obstacle course. Though I wish my hurdles could be set to only four-inches high! Thanks for another great post that connects seemingly unconnected subjects, and for showing us Roxie too.
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    • Jeri- I forgot about the movie Finding Nemo. I have to agree with you that I wish my obstacles were only 4″ but to Roxie who is not that tall the obstacles seem like mountains. Someone made an interesting comment to me, if a Border Collie looks at the A Frame the see the height very differently than a Dachshund who is closer to the ground. We all have obstacles big and small to deal with everyday.
      Arleen recently posted…How Agility Training Has Helped Me Overcome Business Obstacles My Profile

  8. Great article, Arleen. My grand kids loved the videos! I love this:

    “Be encouraging and always recognize your employees’ achievements. I find that recognition awards make great motivators. Groups and teams should also make it a habit to encourage and praise one another.”

    This is true in every step of our lives and good advice for all of us.

    Jan 🙂

  9. Hi Arleen – great share! I really enjoyed the videos – always look forward to the agility when Crufts is on TV.

    This is an excellent analogy – and watching the videos, one of the main things that struck me is that, although it may require a lot of patience, perseverance, effort and courage, Roxie is evidently having a ball – which brings to mind the fact that the most successful people often say that their work doesn’t seem that hard, because it’s great fun. I reckon the more we enjoy our work, the more likely we are to succeed.

    As regards your questions, the biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome has been lack of confidence in myself, particularly as a writer – and blogging is one of the things that’s helping me to overcome that. My main ‘re-charging’ activity is walking and jogging with my dogs (but not round an agility circuit!)

    Thanks for a wonderful, inspiring share, Arleen 🙂

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    • Susan- Agility is a lot of fun for Roxie and myself as well. That is a good point about successful people often to not think of work as work. I love what I am doing with my dog as well as my business. That is such a good point you brought up.

      The more you write the more you will build confidence in yourself. Remember that is your perception and your readers do not see that. Life and business is taking one obstacle at a time and mastering it. I think recharging is so important. I love you can recharge with your dogs. There is nothing like a dog.

      Thank you for your input.
      Arleen recently posted…How Agility Training Has Helped Me Overcome Business Obstacles My Profile

  10. Good post, Arleen. I see so many forms of connectedness in agility training: connection between mind and body; connection between human and animal; connection between personal growth and business growth. Great metaphors you’ve built. I’d even extend the metaphors to the skills we need for dealing with climate change. And I respect the discipline it’s taken for you and Roxy to get to where you’ve gotten together. Great work!

  11. Hi Arleen,
    What a fun post! I LOVED it – and the video of you and Roxie.

    I think you really did such a great job of using each and every obstacle as a specific example of how they translate into business. It’s a post I could certainly use.

    One of my biggest challenges is perseverance in general. It’s easy for me to get bored and lose patience, so I guess the entire course would best represent my needs. It’s all about focus, practice and commitment – three things that believe it or not, don’t come easy to me.

    So I thank you for sharing this. I’m actually going to bookmark it.
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  12. Arleen — I loved the post and your extended metaphor. How many obstacles do you want me to tell you about!? The obstacles never end. There are the big ones: like should I start my own business. (got over that one) Then there are the everyday obstacles of motivating yourself to do the things you need to do everyday. It isn’t easy – I don’t care what business you’re in. That’s why having outside interests are so important so that you can refresh yourself and get back on the obstacle course again. I love walking — but also bridge and the performing arts. They feed my soul.
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    • Jeannette- I am glad you liked the post. Those everyday obstacles keep us going to the next level. The everyday obstacles are not as exciting, so motivating yourself can be more difficult. When I get outside and train Roxie or go to a trial it clears my head and puts things back into perspective so I can get back to working with a fresh outlook. Walking is one of the best exercises you can do. There is nothing like the performing arts to take you to another place.
      Arleen recently posted…How Agility Training Has Helped Me Overcome Business Obstacles My Profile

  13. Great post, Arleen and videos as well. Both my dogs were trying to jump behind and on my pc…they were wondering where the other dogs were! LOL! I love the analogy! It does take a lot of work, patience and of course, love but it is so worth it! Thanks for sharing. Woofs to Roxie!

  14. Not only was I cheering Roxie on as she overcame each and every obstacle in the maze like path with focus and concentration,but the way she and her handler maintained a strong connection through it as well, I was very impressed. How you guys work as a team is something that should be noted also. Running a business online means that yo have to be on the same page not only with prospective clients but also folks that we interact with from outsources to JV partners. I can only imagine the patience that is involved with developing a show of oneness of goal. it’s is something that we can all learn a lot from. Thanks Arleen for an excellent article.
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  15. As always, you have come up with another amazing way to link business to every day things. The comparisons are great and truly hone in to how to overcome situations you may find your business in.
    You dog looks like he is enjoying it too 🙂
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  16. Hi Arleen

    I loved the videos Roxie is adorable and very smart. We lost our almost 17 year old beagle last year and she was not well trained. It is not all about me as beagles are very difficult to train. But is I looked at her behavior as an example of how I manage staff that would be a problem.

    I think it is awesome you do this with Roxie.

    You have drawn some great analogies and comparisons from this to business. Certainly you need patience to do this training and of course we need it in business. I can also see you dog was very connected to you and the trainer and was taking your lead. We need to do that with out team.

    Thanks for sharing this I love it.

    Sue
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    • Sue- Beagles are hound dogs which is also what Roxie is, and they are very hard to train because they are smart. I bet if you took the time and had the patience to do it your beagle would have done well. Roxie is the first dog I have ever trained and I am so happy that I have. In business it is important for us to take the lead and not let others around lead us. I am glad you enjoyed the connection.
      Arleen recently posted…How Agility Training Has Helped Me Overcome Business Obstacles My Profile

  17. Hi Arleen,

    Roxie is too cute for agility training 😉 Don’t you think?

    I just loved watching both the videos you shared. Eventhough it all happens within 2 minutes, that must have taken lot of time. As a viewer, I might not even find the hardest parts in training but as you implied ’em in your writing, I can imagine how hard it would have been. Just surprised watching him do weave poles. Excellent!

    Now that comes as a wonderful analogy as you applied the training into business. Patience is something we don’t practice much and people tend to believe successful businesses are ones that were successful within few months. Isn’t it true Arleen? We come to know about a successful business and feels like it started few months ago. But mostly it’s about few years of accomplishments. Even failed few times before.

    I can recall Pinterest in that scenario, as people believed it was too new and then went viral. But it was founded few years back 🙂

    You have a fabulous week there Arleen 🙂 Thanks for the lovely videos!

    Cheers…
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    • Mayura- Since the obstacles are so difficult and requires speed you normally don’t see dachshunds doing agility. She is a crowd pleaser. Weave poles are one of the hardest obstacles for a dog as they are not a lot of fun. Roxie has taught me patience not only in doing agility but in business. Many people can’t believe I didn’t give up working with her. Never give up even if your business isn’t where you want it to be overnight. It will come with patience.
      Arleen recently posted…How Agility Training Has Helped Me Overcome Business Obstacles My Profile

  18. Arleen, this is a marvelous post. It’s important to learn to apply any lessons we’ve learned to the rest of life and I see you’ve done that.

    Dachsunds are an example of how hard it can be to follow instructions if you’re strong-willed. 🙂

    I couldn’t agree any more strongly about the need to pause. My husband and I have “trained ourselves” to do that: Every Friday after dinner we stop work. Email is shut down, we log out of Skype, and spend the next 24 hours together, relaxing and recharging for the week ahead. It’s amazing how much more productive we are the rest of the week.

  19. Arleen,

    As a dog lover I enjoyed this so much. Roxie is a cutie! Those videos really were enjoyable to me.

    I liked the way you compared it to business when you said “The bottom line is that with practice, patience, perseverance and recognition we can build the confidence and strength to overcome any business obstacle.”

    If Roxie can do it so can we!

    -Donna
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  20. I had a dachshund once that I wanted to train for agility. We attended trials one day to observe and they let him test out the equipment. But he was too scared to go anywhere near it.

  21. Hi Arleen,

    I believe it is important to have patience and persistence in business. How you compared your dog Roxie is a great example. There are going to be trials and tribulations in your business. It’s how you overcome them is what matters. Sometimes if we’re not being persistence with our business, then we have to figure out, why is it that we’re not persistent? Is it confidence related? Is it communications related? What is it and once we figure out the underlying factor of why we’re not being persistent, then we will carry out what we are supposed to do in our business. I’ve learned the hard way of trying to figure out why things do not happen for me and why this, and why that. I’ve learned that starting with the foundation first and troubleshooting the issue at hand everything else falls into place. Great video by the way! Have a great week ahead!
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  22. Arleen I saw this post earlier and only stayed away for a bit. As you know we are struggling with a senior dog and knowing the right thing to do. I feel like we are on the Teeter with all that.

    When I landed on this post I just loved the topic. But love the metaphor even more. Dogs just give us so much juice for creative blogging don’t they?

    Keep on blogging for us! Thanks.
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    • Patricia- I know what it is like when your dog becomes a senior. Been there have done that. I never thought i would ever get another dog. The dog on the phone on my main website. http://www.garrettspecialties.com was my dachshund that I had before Rudee. I really thought I could never love again. Yes we were on a teeter, roller coaster ride all mixed into one.

      Roxie has changed my life for the better. I have never trained a dog before and I have had dogs all my life. The love and strength she gives me I can’t buy. I give I could make a good commercial for master card.

      Hang in there and give Chanel a kiss for me.
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