Tuesday, 28 February 2012

interview with a PRO: Jessica Martin

This month , I have published a special interview from overseas. The Interview with a pro from Canada , The incredibly talented Jessica Martin. Jessica is the only Canadian to have won the FCI World Championship . She did it in the 2012 in Germany with her ​​young dog "Dice". Jessica’s agility career began at the age of 13. She has many years of experience training dogs of all breeds , she promotes positive and motivational methods of training which are fun for both the dogs and their handlers. She has trained under the finest trainers Including Adrian Rooyakkers, Susan Garrett, Greg and Laura Derrett Derrett. Jessica Martin is the owner and instructor of Agile Dog Training located in Erin, Ontario.
I think is enough to understand with who we are dealing with ... just read this extraordinary interview :)

Jessica and the warm up questions...

What music can you not leave home when you go to a competition ?
I always bring a variety of music to a competition ranging from upbeat pop music to hard rock and metal. I use my music to help keep me focused and intense when I am walking a course at a large competition. I also change my music depending on which of my dogs I am running since they all have their own running style.

What is the job that you wanted to do as a child ?
As a child, I always wanted to be a horseback riding instructor. I was involved with horses from a very young age but when I started training my first dog for agility, I found that I didn't have enough time to do both. I chose to continue training my dog, which has lead me to my current career in dog agility.

Something that makes you angry ?
I don't like when people are not fair to their dogs and expect them to perform perfectly without putting in the time and training. We aren't always perfect and we can't expect our dogs to be all the time. It's the teamwork that is most important to determine if you have a good agility run.

Ok , better to forget and pass to something more serious

Could you tell our readers a little about yourself
My journey into dog sports began 11 years ago whenI bought my first dog at the age of 13 and joined a club that trained obedience and agility. I quickly developed a love for training and agility which lead me to try and improve my skills. At the age of 18 I made it onto the Canadian world team for the first time and got to compete at the FCI World Championships. Teaching agility is now my full time business. I teach lessons at my own facility in Ontario, Canada and travel all over the world to present seminars. Here are my current dogs and some of their accomplishments:
Mikki (11 yr oldshetland sheepdog): 2 time National Champion, 3 time World Team Member
Kash (9 yr oldNova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever) National Champion, World Team Member
Dice: (6 yr old Shetland Sheepdog): 2010 FCI Gold Medalist, 2011 WAO Gold Medalist, 3 time World Team Member
Heist: (9 month old border collie puppy)

To learn more about my dogs and their accomplishments visit their pages on my webiste at www.agiledogtraining.com

At the beginning of your career in agility, who was beside you, who gave you the initial input,your mentor, if there was .Who is beside you nowadays?
My main mentor and training partner for my entire agility career has been Adrian Rooyakkers. He began as my agility instructor when I first started in agility and has since become a close friend and training partner that continues to push me to the next levels in my training. Over the years he has helped me develop my competitive spirit that has helped me be successful in high pressure events. Susan Garrett and Greg Derrett have also helped me to develop my handling and dog training skills over the years. My parents have been very supportive over the years and although they have no dog training experience, they drove me to competitions and training practices always making sure I had the oppourtunity to do my best.

Tell me a little bit about your start in dog sports?
When my parents agreed to let me get my first dog, they insisted that I take him to obedience training so he learned to be well behaved. I started in obedience initially but soon found that my true passion lay in agility training. I found it much more exciting to train my dog to perform agility obstacles. I had no experience training a dog and was very young to be training my own dog for agility but I was dedicated and it paid off in the end.

Do you remember your first agility competition?
I attended my first agility competition when my first dog was 18 months old (minimum age in Canada). A group of people from my club was attending the competition and told me I should enter my dog as well. We didn't run clean on any of the runs and I was still unsure of the rules but we had a good time and I continued to enter competitions after that and got better with more experience.

Dice is very young and has started winning immediately, there seems to be something special between you and Dice , Isn't it?
Dice is a very special dog to me and runs every agility run because she loves to work with me rather than loving agility. She is usually found sleeping before her run and is always calm until she goes in the ring. Most people see her in agility as the fast, driven agility dog that always tries as hard as she can, but she is actually a very sensitive dog that has had to work through many fear and shut down issues. Dice has taught me patience and how to adapt my training to the individual dog. I ignored people when they told me that she was a shut down dog because I knew that she had the potential to be great. When we enter the ring at the World Championships I always tell her that I'll run if she does and she always gives me everything she has. I am very grateful for the lessons she has taught me.

You won and still winning with your dogs .Seems that you can express 100% of yourself with them , or you don't have the same harmony with all of your dogs ?
I have very close relationships with all of my dogs and spend a lot of time working with them outside of agility to build strong bonds. They learn to understand me and I learn to understand them as well. My dogs and I work as a team on and off the agility field. They each have their own distinct personalities so some of them take a little longer to connect with than others have but I just keep working on the teamwork and connection. This allows me to be able to predict my dog's behaviour on course as well as have them want to work with me instead of doing what they want.
You are the owner and trainer of the Agile Dog Training , for seminars and lessons .Tell us more about your techniques , which are the fundamentals of your agility handling.
My techniques are built on positive, reward based training methods and building confidence in the dog through teaching consistent handling. I also believe in adapting training to the individual dog and handler to find what works best for them. I am currently doing a lot of work with motivation and building confidence using what I have learned from training Dice. My training teaches the dogs how to respond correctly and confidently to the handling and trust the directions the handler is giving. I believe that a dog that is confident that you will give them the information they need on course will run harder and more accurately. Ultimately my methods work on building this trust to help the dogs and handlers work as a true team on course.

You can find out more about my ideas on training on my blog site at agiledogtraining.wordpress.com

You're having a lot of seminars . How do you feel when you see that those who have attended your seminars have used your techniques to win a competition?
I am always happy when I can help people be more successful in their training whether it is winning a competition or just creating a stronger team with their dog. I have taught many different levels of students and some of the most rewarding ones for me are the ones that had almost given up on agility and then discovered by changing their methods their dog really can be successful and enjoy it.

How much time you devote to training during the week?
Describe your typical training day?
To me training is a lifestyle, so defining an actual amount of time devoted to training is difficult. Most of my training isn't time that is set aside but rather my interactions with my dogs in my every day life. When I take my dogs for a walk I work on recalls and them knowing which side of me they should be on. When I throw a toy I make sure they are turning towards me instead of away from me. To practice handling and distance skills I often send my dogs around trees in my backyard and practice front crosses and verbal cues. I don't focus on equipment that much but rather my dogs understanding my body language and me being able to practice my timing and see how they move and turn.

What have you focused more on in training during 2011, What have you given more importance?
2011 has been a busy year for me with starting my own business and having a new puppy to train. With Dice I have mostly worked on maintaining her handling skills and working on my timing as well as watching her on video to try and really know how she moves and turns. With my puppy, I'm working on getting to know him better since he isn't as easy to connect with as some of my other dogs have been. I have been working with handling off of obstacles with him and teaching him to trust my direction since he has his own ideas about how things should be done.

Which competition remained more in your heart
2010 FCI World Championships: Gold medal win with Dice was amazing...she gave me everything she could and we managed to win Canada's first Gold medal
2011 WAO snooker run...Dice and I completed the maximum number of course points and brought home another Gold medal for Canada
2009 Canadian Nationals: Mikki won overall at the Canadian Nationals showing that at nearly 10 years old he still has it!

What are your other interests except Agility?
When not teaching or training agility (which is most of the time), I enjoy hiking, spending time outdoors and reading.

Plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to keep expanding my business and learning all I can from both my own dogs and my students dogs.

I am also very excited to be joing the faculty at Agility University to offer some interactive online courses (www.agility-u.com). I am designing my courses to provide interactive quizes, video clips, demos, and tutorials to help students learn in a fun, motivating way.

Do you think that a good pair of running shoes can do a bit of difference during a run?
When I am competing I typically wear my light weight Dita shoes which I find helps me grip on slippery footing especially when I am turning or having to slow down from sprinting. I usually try out my shoes on the surface to see how much traction I'll need before competing.
Which is the favorite toy for your dogs?
I love anything made by Crash Test Toys. They are durable and can stand up to a lot of use. I throw my toys often in training so I like using toys that are heavy enough to throw well and that my dogs can tug with.

visit www.agiledogtraining.com

all the photos are a courtesy of Jessica Martin

Agility WC 2010, Agility Individual Small, Jessica Martin, CAN, World Champion
by swiss4agility

Dice Steeplechase March Royackers Trial 2009
by jessmartinagility

Agility WM 2011 in Liévin Martin Jessica CAN individual small jumping
by WChagility2010


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