In this post I want to talk about a couple of different things. Pressure in the agility world and letting our mistakes go.
For me these two topics go hand in hand. I have a very hard time letting things go, I hold on to the mistakes I have made and roll them around in my head, trying to figure out ways I could have done things differently and what I need to do or not do in the future.
We all feel pressure in the agility world, from our instructors, from our friends, from ourselves. Most of the time our friends and instructors do not mean to pressure us,but we feel it all the same. We also pressure ourselves, to do the best we can for our dogs, to be a better handler, and a multitude of other things.
With that pressure, mistakes can happen, and when those mistakes happen the pressure increases making us more stressed.
For me I feel intense pressure to always do right by my dogs, to give them the best care I can, feed them the best food I can and so on.
Sometimes to our better judgment, we can let others influence us as to what we should be doing, or we feel pressure to do something because “everyone else is doing it”. I have let that happen to myself, you cave to the pressure and do something that your gut is saying you shouldn’t.
It can be anything, from how to teach your dog a contact to the food you are feeding, to if you should do a front cross. Anything that makes you feel stressed or pressured puts a kink in the relationship between you and your dog. Because you are feeling uneasy about what is happening or you would just rather teach something a different way, all of these things can hinder the game between you and your dog.
My saying in life is “Do what makes you shiny”, I say this because I love to be happy, (who doesn’t? ) And I love shiny things, shiny things make me very happy. So I want everything to be shiny between me and my dog, because that makes me happy and when I am happy my dog is happy right along with me.
I say this a lot at seminars, think about the way you are training your dog, does it make you happy? Are you excited to teach it this way? Do you look forward to your training sessions with your dogs? If you are teaching something to your dog and you aren’t shiny about it, I would think about a way to teach it that makes you happy! Because if you are happy, you will become a better teacher and your dog will learn the skill faster and with enthusiasm.
So this leads me to letting go of our mistakes, I have been in this boat; I felt pressured to do something, I made a mistake and I couldn’t let it go.
I wouldn’t let the mistake go because I kept telling myself the mistake wouldn’t have happened if I had just went with my gut, it became a vicious circle, I couldn’t fix my mistake because I couldn’t let it go and my dog didn’t understand what was going on.
I have also made mistakes in my training, try something new or different and then look at it down the road and say “uh-oh” to myself, I wouldn’t let this go either, saying things to myself like “why didn’t I see this before?” , ” How did I not see she was doing that during the exercise” etc, etc.
So I have worked hard this year to let things go, to make a mistake and to learn from it, to always follow my gut and do what makes me happy and is what I feel is best for my dogs.
The dog’s don’t know we made a mistake and we can easily teach them something new to help fix the mistake and they never know the difference.
Each person has a different way of letting things go, and it is something that I think everyone has to learn for themselves. I had many friends and family talk to me and explain about letting things go but I had to work it out myself.
One of the first things I did was tell myself that each mistake was an opportunity to learn from, to make me a better trainer. And to know that my dogs don’t know its a mistake, and it can be fixed.
I never realized how much not letting things go and giving in to pressure affected my training and trialing with my dogs, now that I know it, I can see the impact it had on me and how I can fix it.
So my advice to anyone who feels like they are letting their mistakes bog them down or feel pressured.
Think about all the things you are currently teaching your dog, do you like how you are training the behavior? (for example, do you like teaching your dog 2o2o or would you rather do a running?) Are you happy with how things are going between you and your dog while training? If you hesitate or say no, then think of different ways to teach a behavior that you enjoy doing.
I LOVE training with a clicker, so I will always try to train things with a clicker, because I truly enjoy doing it that way.
Getting over pressure is harder to do, but I try my best to find my “happy place”, find the good things and know that sticking to my gut feelings is what I should do, it is best for me and it is best for my dog.