Recently, I felt like I needed help with the mental side of agility. So, I started meeting with Dr. Kevin Roby, an expert in the field of sport psychology. He asked me if I talked to my dog? Of course, I talk to my dog. This is Link we are talking about. Link can speak with his eyes and sometimes he has a lot to say. Link is also the best listener. I talk to Link everyday.
Then, Dr. Roby asked me if I talk to Link before the run. I don’t usually talk to him before a run. I mean we don’t have a conversation. I’m usually so busy trying to remember the course, figure out where I am in line, managing the number of treats in my hand and just getting to the line that I did not take the time to talk to Link before a run.
Dr. Roby suggested that I put my arm around Link and calmly talk to him about how he can complete the run. He suggested I tell Link that he can complete the skills required on course. This is similar to putting your arm around a teammate and telling them they can do it. It lets your teammate know you believe in them. I thought to myself, I already talk to Link, so why not try this suggestion?
I’ve made many changes to my current way of thinking and to my agility routine. I cannot say that this was the game changer for me last weekend. What I can say is that I loved the feeling of talking to Link before our run. I got down on his level. I looked into his eyes and we had a conversation about the run. I felt the calming effects of the conversation with Link. I think he felt the confident energy. I feel like the two of us together became a team and together were ready for the run.
Link, my energetic and ready to run border collie, was calm around the agility ring engaging in this conversation with me. He didn’t bark but his eyes told the story. A fellow agility competitor gave me the best compliment on the last day of the trial. She said that my dog was calm before his run and showed confidence before his run. She stated once he left the start line he knew exactly where he was going with speed. Thank you Julie for the compliment! It means the world to me.
So, do you talk to your dog before your run? Have you ever had a conversation with your dog before your run? Was your conversation focused on telling your dog that they had better hold their start line? Was your conversation focused on telling your dog they had better stick their contacts? Or was your conversation focused on how your dog can do it? Was your conversation focused on how he can run fast and make that pinwheel look easy? Was your conversation focused on what the two of you can do vs. what your dog had better do?
If you haven’t tried talking to your dog before you run, try it. When you speak to your dog focus your energy on what you and your dog can do on that run, speak calmly and confidently. When you try it, please let me know how it went? How did that conversation make you feel?