Tips for improving your memory

When Julia Lane, author, trainer and agilitator, found that her students were getting very frustrated trying to remember a course, she turned to the AgileTeach group for advice. The responses came rolling in. She compiled a list of top tips which she discussed with her class. You could see the light bulbs go on over their heads. All of her students greatly benefited from the advice. They demonstrated improved memory skills which lead to increased confidence. She has kindly agreed to share her list with us.

  1. Walk the course from the perspective of the dog. Crouch down at the end of the tunnel. Walk through the last weave pole. Look for possible traps that your dog might see.

  2. Walk the course from the perspective of the handler. For tips, beg, buy or borrow the DVD Walking the Course by Kathy Keats, available from via Agility Warehouse

  3. Identify patterns and shapes. Look for loops, circles, straight lines, etc.

  4. Backchain (start at the end). One of the top agility competitors in the world, Ann Braue of Eau Claire, WI, always starts from the end of the course to help her remember. She said it also helps her avoid the crowd of people who all start at the beginning!

  5. Try shadow handling. Outside of the ring, close your eyes and imagine running the course. Say your cues aloud. Move your arms, shoulders and feet as if you were actually running the course. You are mentally rehearsing your plan.

  6. Watch the other teams. Note which handling moves work and which ones don't. Always keep in mind your own team's strengths and weaknesses and plan accordingly.

  7. Be positive about your ability to remember the course. If you tell yourself or your instructor before you've even started that you'll never remember it or that you'll screw up, guess what? You will fulfill that prophecy!

  8. Take a deep breath at the start line. Connect with your dog. Smile.

If you have any other comments ir suggestions to pass on, email

About the author...
Julia Kamysz Lane was born and raised in the Midwest, but fell in love with New Orleans and its sub-tropical climate while attending Tulane University. She and her husband lived there for eight years during which time she honed her skills as a writer and editor at Gambit Weekly, New Orleans’ alternative newsweekly and as a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and The Times-Picayune. She is the author of New Orleans for Dummies, 3rd & 4th ed. (Frommer’s/Wiley Publishing).

She has always enjoyed obedience classes with her dogs. In 2003,she decided to try agility with Darby, her Dalmatian who had energy to burn. They had a blast! They couldn’t learn fast enough. She started assisting her instructor with classes and joined the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. A life-long animal lover, she also volunteered at the LA/SPCA and two dog rescues. This inevitably lead to her own mini zoo of four dogs and two cats and fostering many more.

On 29 August 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck and the Army Corps of Engineers' faulty levees collapsed. Her home flooded and they lost just about everything they owned, including their car, clothes, furniture and treasured photo albums. They have since started over in the Chicago area near family. Currently, Julia is a freelance writer and author, dog trainer and full-fledged agility addict.

You can read more about Julia and her dogs on her website

First published January 2008


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