Published in the BCSA Borderlines Magazine

The show is over, so now what????? Now is the perfect time to evaluate your dog’s and your performances. Make some brief notes on the things that went well and those that need improvement. Once you have your list, think about possible solutions of the areas you feel need improvement. Then make a plan that incorporates those solutions for the things your want to improve.

Anyone who is committed to showing well can end up sabotaging their confidence by being too harsh about their dog’s and their performances. So take a serious look at things that worked well and things that need improvement.

When assessing your performance, do you:

· Only focus on your dog’s and/or your mistakes?

· Nit-pick your dog’s and/or your performance?

· Remember any improvements?

· Ignore any positive accomplishments?

· Feel dissatisfied even when you did well because you feel like you did not perform up to your expectations?

· Want to perform perfectly and consider anything less than perfect as a failure?

Instead of looking at the negative aspects of the show, turn your performance into a positive learning experience and start making a plan!

Making a plan

Here are a few questions to answer that will help you begin to improve your showing and planning your training:

  • What is your main reason for participating in your sport?
  • What do you consider the three biggest accomplishments your have had with your dog? (this could be learning a specific trick to a title to winning a show)
  • Name three of your psychological strengths that help you in your sport? (Mental toughness). These could be your stamina, your work ethic, your enthusiasm, etc.
  • Identify three areas of your mental game that you would like to improve and how to improve them. This could be increasing your focus during a run, improving concentration on your dog’s performance, learning to remain calm while showing, etc.
  • Name 3 areas of training you want to improve with your dog. These could be perfecting front and/or rear crosses, fine-tuning heeling or turns, etc.
  • List any goals you want to achieve.

Mental Training is a BIG part of showing

Here are a few mental game strategies to consider:

1. First, be objective about your performance. Avoid letting the emotions take over, such as frustration and anger.

2. Be your own best teacher. Always leave the show with two positive things about your performance. What would help you feel satisfied or more confident?

3. Instead of thinking about all the reasons you failed or messed up, think about what you want to improve in your next week’s training sessions. Be confident knowing that this work will improve areas and help you perform better in the next competition.

4. Stay positive. Do not ruin your confidence with criticism and regret after you compete.
Staying positive and in the right frame of mind will increase your confidence and enjoyment while showing.

How to plan and improve your training: There’s always more to learn.

Place a check next to the activities you do to improve your training and skills:
_______Consistent training and taking classes
_______Watch videos of yourself training and showing
_______Read magazines, articles, online group lists (educational learning)
_______Attend seminars and workshops
_______Log your training sessions and show results. Don’t rely solely on memory to evaluate your progress.
_______Pre-Plan your training sessions. Organize your thoughts and how you are going to train!

The more you practice and study the better you will become!

Here are a few really great “dog”  books my students and I have read. Click on the link or image and it will take you to affiliate DogWise.

DebbyQ’s Picks for mental toughness training

Establishing Goals can be a great motivator:
1. What are your goals for the next year?
2. What are your long term goals? 5+ years
3. What events or shows do you plan to attend in the next year?

While you set your goals keep in mind that they can be adjusted as needed. For example, you want to show at your breed nationals in 6 months. As the entry deadline approaches, you realize that your dog isn’t consistently performing a specific skill to your criteria. Rather than showing and possibly setting your training back, push your goal back to the next show or future nationals. That way both you and your dog will be ready.

After the show, take time and think about yourself, your dog and your performance. What did you do well? How can you improve the skills you feel are needed to help your showing become more what you would like. Developing training logs and goals as well as logging valuable skill information will help you organize your thoughts and improve your training. Showing after all is a great time to make an assessment of your training.  Show to Train!

Do you have a training question? AskDebbyQ