I am going to be honest, IGP isn’t an easy sport to begin. There is a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and obstacles to get over. Often times, I hear new folks say that the environment is tough and the handlers are not friendly. I have experienced these feelings as well. The sport environment can be tough in IGP. It took me a long time to learn how to function in the IGP community.
Here are some tips on how to start and how to keep your sanity:
- It’s a sport. Yes, some handlers are professional trainers and competitors. But, at the end of the day it is a sport.
- If you can’t get over the fear, you must do it scared. Many new handlers are shocked at the pressure and stress that training and trial days brings. I will not sugar coat the situation, trial days are tough. Which is OK, because trials are supposed to be tough…it’s an EXAM!
- Don’t get involved in politics. Politics very much drives the sport as does society. Anything related to animals and dogs changes the IGP world. Rules will change in the sport. And yes, the sport used to be called Schutzhund, IPO, and now it is IGP. Don’t get hung up on the name, train your dog.
- Stay off Social Media! Don’t post videos or images unless you want feedback. And that feedback surely won’t be super positive on social media, people can be mean. Don’t worry about videoing your dog. A very wise individual in the sport told me, “When it’s that good, someone will record it. So get off your damn phone and train your dog.”
- Listen instead of constantly talking. The sport is filled with handlers discussing their dogs all day at club and training groups. The smartest thing you can do is shut up and listen. You will learn much more!