Are you ready to enter a Water Trial?

By Tammy Etscheidt (June 2012)

Mental Check List
This mental check list will help you asses you and your dog's readiness for a trial and it's outcome.

  • Do you have time to commit to training?
  • Are you prepared to accept whatever performance the dog may give you at a trial?
  • Can your dog perform a run-through to your satisfaction, in a strange site, without toys or food? Have you seriously proofed the exercises, or do you only train in familiar places with predictable conditions?
  • Are you familiar with the site conditions? Example: muddy water for underwater retrieve? Have you trained and prepared for it?

The day of the Water Trial
Use this list as part of your preperation and expectations for your water trial experience.

  • Relax! You've trained and prepared. You are READY! Enjoy the day!
  • If you feed twice a day, you need to decide whether to feed in the morning or not. Some dogs do better if they follow the same routine. Take into account the time you normally feed and what time you think you will work.
  • Arrive early to establish camp so you're not racing around at the last minute.
  • Take some personal time to visualize you and your dog working as a team and successfully completing all the exercises.
  • Volunteer to work. This helps you relax and get more familiar with the judge & stewards who may be on the beach or in the boat for your dog's run. You also learn A LOT simply by volunteering!
  • Be the same handler you are in training. Don't get overly excited or your dog is going to wonder who you are.
  • Give clear and confident signals and handle your dog. You are a team, each with your own responsibilities to fulfill.
  • Keep things in perspective: trialing is such a tiny part of our lives. Don't let 15 minutes of passing or failing overshadow all the fun things you do with your dog. Walks, socializing, training, snuggling on the couch, playing with toys and other ways your dog brings you so much joy.
  • HAVE FUN!!