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If you are an agility enthusiast, any time of year is a good time to review your goals for your dog and yourself. What do you want to achieve? Do you want your dog to have tighter turns or more consistent contacts? Do you want them to settle better in between their turns at training? Vet physiotherapist Eloise Collins explains the art of SMART goal setting.

Goals are great!

They motivate us and when we reach them we feel like we have really achieved something. However, we must make sure our goals are achievable. Otherwise we can become demoralised and, even worse, our dogs may injure themselves because we are asking them to do something which isn't within their capability.

This is why we need to set SMART goals!


What exactly do you want to achieve? Who does it apply to? Do you need help? Don't be vague and no ambiguous language.


You must be able to objectively measure your goal so you can track your progress. If you want tighter turns or more speed, you could  design yourself a ‘test' course to do at the start of the year and then every quarter until the end of the year. Time yourself and video the run for comparison.


It is so, so important that our goals are achievable and realistic. If your dog is ten years old and has a little bit of arthritis setting in, they're probably not going to be able to wrap tightly around a wing like they used to, and it would be unfair on both of you to ask them to do so.


Is the goal worthwhile and will it help you achieve your fundamental aim? There's no point working on your dog's stamina and taking them for longer and longer walks when you actually want to be targeting their explosive power to increase their speed in the agility ring.


Give yourself a time frame, whether that be six months, a year or until the end of the competition season. A deadline will motivate you and help you with time management.

 So there we are. Good luck with setting your goals for this year. I wish you well with them and remember to make them SMART!

About the author...
Eloise Collins BSc(Hons) RVN, PgD Vet Phys, MNAVP
is a veterinary physiotherapist with a special interest in canine sports performance, injury prevention and rehabilitation. She graduated from Harper Adams University with a postgraduate diploma in Veterinary Physiotherapy. She is also a qualified veterinary nurse, with over ten years experience working with dogs and horses.

Eloise previously competed in agility with her Border Collies, but she is now training her young Working Cocker Spaniel.

She runs EC Veterinary Physiotherapy, a mobile physiotherapy service treating dogs and horses in Hampshire, Surrey and surrounding areas.

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First published 6th March 2021







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