Practice the Positive!

How many times do you watch your runs from a trial and pick out all the things that went wrong? Instead of all the things that went right?

I am very guilty of this and I have been trying to focus on the positive things that happened during the run instead of just focusing on everything that went wrong. And I will be the first to say, its hard!! I have to make sure and make a conscious effort to list all the good things that happened, but it has definitely helped my mental process during trials. 

This doesn’t mean I ignore the things that went wrong, I will think about them, what happened, what I maybe need to go home and train, or maybe handle differently. I let those thoughts come into my mental space, and then I let them go. 

I don’t want those thoughts of “all the things that went wrong” to occupy my headspace for the rest of the trial. Because if I let that happen, it will continue to loop for the rest of the day and each run could continue to loop those negative thoughts. 

And what happens when those thoughts loop? 

Well something happens on the next run, and “confirms” to us all the bad things, and that continues that negative loop. 

And again, being honest, it is hard to let those negative thoughts go. But here is the thing I have learned. Let them occupy your mental space, sit with them for a certain amount of time, I give myself 5-10 minutes. And then move on, focus on the good things that did happen, and I mean ALL the things. 

  • Stay at the start line? YAY!!
  • Hit their dogwalk contact? YES!!!! 
  • Did that 180 sequences from 10 feet??? WOOT!!! 

So for your next trial, try this, mull over those bad things in that run, give yourself a time limit, put a timer on your phone (thats what I do!) 5 or 10 minutes, and then shake them off and start going over all the good things! Take your dog for a walk, go hang out with your friends, whatever you need to do to shake off those thoughts and focus on the good stuff. 

Its hard to do, but worth it!! 


Published by Amanda Nelson

Amanda Nelson is well known for her distance handling skills, and she has been traveling the country and teaching seminars for 20+ years. She has traveled around the world to Australia, Japan, Netherlands, England, Switzerland and the Philippines teaching all levels of agility, with nearly all dog breeds. Amanda focuses on teaching teamwork as well as how to create a strong connection between dog and handler. She works with all styles of handling, from running with your dog to distance handling. Amanda tailors each training session, large or small, to the dog and handler to help bring out the best in the team. Her training techniques consist of a large amounts of targeting, food rewards, and toy rewards. Creating a fun learning environment for the dog encourages a fast, fun, and motivated dog in the agility ring. Amanda uses a combination of Upper Body Cues, Lower Body Cues, and Verbal Cues. This system was derived from the natural cues that most dogs read and pick up quickly. Handlers are taught how to use all of these cues, together, to create a customized handling system that can be tailored to their unique dog. All of these techniques have resulted in Amanda earning numerous titles with her dogs including the MOD SQUAD award, Purple Achievement Cup, and over 40 NADAC Championship titles. She has won the NADAC Championships multiple times, including winning the Super Stakes and Starter Stakes division. She has also been Top Bonus Dog, Top Purple Dog, and Top Dog of the Year several times in NADAC.

One thought on “Practice the Positive!

  1. Boy, this is timely! We ran a trial this weekend and consistently NQ’d in every single run. My frustration is that she visits ring crew and the judge, negating our chance to do a smooth, completely, connected run. So, trying HARD to remember: she did almost all of the obstacles well and as I directed her, and she ended up happy. She held her contacts. She was happy. She held her startline stay. She was happy. She ran without sniffing around the ring avoiding obstacles, which used to be her stress behavior. She ran a jumpers course in 22.7 seconds, including the off course obstacle. She was happy. She was happy. The most joyous run we had was a jumpers run where she was like a rocket, running smoothly, efficiently, responding to my cues, When we ended the run, got her leash on and walked by the judge he said, “you ran the wrong course.” I yelled, “I DON”T CARE!!!” We celebrated. Later kicked myself, but you know, she was happy. Please keep reminding us what is important in running our dogs.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: