I just re-watched a video from Susan Garrett about mental confidence and the importance of having a premental routine before a big event. Several things she said really hit home with me because, like her, I have learned over the years, that in order to be successful you have to trust your dog.
I find people of this generation of agility are lucky, there is so much more information today then there was back in 2006 when I started competing with my dog Poo-Key. Susan has teamed up with John Cullen to create a great workbook on how to prep for the pressure that comes with stressful competitons, whether for you, it is a local show or for others, a finals run at a national or world event. I highly recommend her new book. It is called , “Without Pressure, We Get No Diamonds.”
Now with that said, I must say several things Susan said in her Vlog a few months ago that really hit home and it reminds me of a story.
When I first started agility back in 2006, like Susan, I was blessed with an incredible dog named Poo-Key. She was a great dog to start with. She gave me confidence and she was honest to a fault. Poo-Key was older when we started and I was only able to do a few shows a year so our time together was short. I took some time off for awhile and when I came back I began again with Nina, a nice steady dog and a little firecracker named Tynan.
Nina gave me my education, meaning I had no idea how to harness the wind and I knew I was in trouble. I knew then that I was going to have to go out and search for help to be able to run her successfully. I found many great handlers that helped me along the way, but for years we still struggled. Then one day I came to the realization that my problem was me. You see, I was not trusting her to do her job. Here I had given her a fabulous, rather expensive, education and I had no confidence in her, or maybe it was I had no confidence in myself.
So, at the next show I decided to run and do my job while trusting her to do hers. Amazingly we ran brilliantly. “Wow”, I thought, I am on to something here. I continued to trust in her and we went on to do great things together.
Then came Tynan. He is the lucky one, mainly because I had it all figured out this time. I told myself when I first starting training him from the beginning, if I did my job and gave him a fabulous education that the trust would fall into place.
The first time I ran him at a show, I did not do that at all and it showed in my video. I came home and told myself that I would not repeat that mistake and moved forward. Well great things happened. Tynan did things that even Nina could not do and yet today he has never let me down on course. Yes, there are things we need to revisit and work on, but as long as I do my job then he is free to do his.
Bottom line, it took me years to understand this and I am glad I am able to share some of that much hard found knowledge with you today.
So my advice of the week is, trust in your dog. Give him or her their job, so you can do yours.