November 11, 2020

Episode 267: Finding the Motivation to Train

In this episode (19:05)

In this episode, Jennifer and Sarah help Esteban overcome his lack of motivation to train.

You Will Learn

  • How to motivate yourself to train when you don’t feel like.
  • How to schedule your training.
  • Why you should set the bar low.


- You're listening to Bad Dog Agility, bringing you training tips, interviews, and news about the great sport of dog agility. (upbeat music) - I'm Jennifer - I'm Esteban. - And I'm Sarah. And this is episode 267. Today's podcast is brought to you by has the innovative training tools you need for agility. Having problems with the dog-walker or A frame? The Hit-It Board can fix that. Your

dog doesn't like tugging? They'll love the Tug-It. Can't move your A frame around by yourself? The Move-It can. Go to and use discount code BDA10 to get 10% off your order. That's - Today we're gonna be talking about finding the motivation to train. And for those of you who are feeling a little bit like me, a little bit demotivated, I hope that you will find this

very helpful. And so for this podcast, I am going to be the client. I'm going to be the student/client, and Jennifer, you and Sarah are going to be the instructors, my paid experts to help me through this difficult time. Let me describe my problem. So I'm an agility person. Normally love doing agility, but for some reason I just can't seem to get excited about training right now. I

have a great young dog, definitely needs work, just started sequencing, still learning contacts. I have an old eight-year old who's basically retired at this point but could definitely use some activity. I just can't seem to wanna get out there and do stuff. I have my own equipment here at the house that I can use, tunnel, contacts, weaves, several jumps. And I wake up in the morning, and I

think, okay, today I'm just gonna get out there and do something, but then I don't. And one day leads to the next day, and suddenly it has been several weeks since I have trained this dog at all. And I feel like her entire career is slipping away. And now it's starting to cause me a little bit of anxiety. So I am here asking for help from you guys.

Ease my anxiety. Find me the motivation. Give me the secret to life. Get me back out there. Okay, ready, go. - Ready, go. All right, so the first point that I wanna make for you and for anybody listening who, Esteban's story could be your story, is to first of all, forgive yourself for not having the motivation right now however long it's been since you've had that drive and

that desire for agility. Obviously, we are in the middle of very crazy, stressful, extraordinary times in the world with the COVID pandemic, and social distancing, and events being canceled, and classes being canceled, and people out of work. I mean, it's not just that our agility lives are shaken up. Our live lives are shaken up. And there is an unbelievable amount of stress that has been added to virtually

everybody listening to this podcast right now. And I really don't think that that can be overstated. You have to understand how much stress that you are in or under and forgive yourself for not being able to find the motivation to do this hobby that you have historically done with your dog. So that's like number one. It's okay. A lot of us are in this position. And the second

thing that I would say is that I think one of the best ways to get out of a training slump is to force yourself a little bit to get out there and just have one session. Don't over plan it. This isn't the time. When you are struggling with motivation, it is not the time to go through and look through your entire record book and put together a spreadsheet

of all of your skills. Because all you're gonna do is you're gonna drown yourself in analysis and never actually get started. It feels like you're doing something, but you're really just putting off the going out to the field, right? - I've been wondering about what to train. I feel like there's so much. I feel a little bit overwhelmed. - All right, so my advice is, it doesn't matter

what you train right now. What matters is you get out and you do something. So set a time. A schedule would be great. Like if you're really trying to get out of a slump, set a time three days this week. It doesn't matter what you work on. What matters is that you get out there, and you do something with your dog. Because nine times out of 10, once

you get to the field, you will enjoy it. And then that's gonna feed on itself. Right? You can build on that. And I think about it in a very similar way for a lot of people to working out. Like do I wanna work out right now? Maybe I didn't sleep well last night. I only got five hours sleep. I don't feel great. I feel very stressed out. Maybe

I'd rather sit and watch TV. But nine times out of 10, one minute into the workout, I'm glad I'm doing it. And I think that that's the way a lot of us feel about agility. - I think part of this kind of stress and this feeling that you have, a big ease on it, as Sarah said, forgive yourself, but you're not alone, right? If you were the only

one going through this, we wouldn't be having this podcast. We're having this podcast cause we're all going through it to some extent. We've received emails. I know Esteban and I have talked about, I'm having the same feeling with some of my dogs. My young dog is at a very similar stage. And I think there's a lot of comfort in knowing that you're not alone. It's sometimes easy to

get on social media and see all these people training, and you feel like they're leaving you in the dust, your old training partners. And as many people as are out there training, and working hard, and posting videos, there's also a lot that are dealing with the same thing. So you're not alone. And I think that kinda goes to maybe another tip, moving onto another tip, which is find

a training partner. Now we know with COVID and social distancing it might not be somebody you can actually get together with and train. Heck, it doesn't even have to be somebody from your area, but maybe you can find somebody who has a dog at a similar level, and kind of compare notes once or twice a week. And if you need to make yourself accountable, cause I 100% agree

with what Sarah said. Sometimes you don't wanna get out there, but once you get going, you're glad you did. But maybe once a week, you schedule a quick little 15, 20-minute Zoom call where you guys discuss notes. Like, hey, what'd you do this week? Or, oh, I worked on slowly increasing the height of my teeter. I closed the channel poles. And I think having somebody that you can

talk about with what you're doing, it helps to do both things. It keeps you a little accountable, right? It gives you that motivation to kind of keep up with them, or you guys can bounce off ideas, but it lets you know you're not alone. Set a time. It's back to that appointment thing. So kind of finding a buddy can actually solve a couple of these emotions and these

aspects that we are feeling right now. - Yeah, exactly. - I really like that. - Yeah, and I think that another important aspect to getting out there is you kind of want to, I think we need to think about the lack of motivation as kind of there's like two phases to it, right? The first phase is you're just not getting out there and doing anything, and we have

to get you over that hump. And then once you are getting out there and doing something on a semi-regular basis, then you can kinda move into some more planning aspects, thinking about what skills you wanna work on, think about what you're gonna do on your contacts, or your weaves, or how you're gonna progress things. But at first, you just wanna get out there, and you wanna make sure

that you're doing stuff that's fun for you and your dog, right? So maybe the thing that you need the most, the thing that you are lacking, the thing that's gonna keep you out of the ring when trials start happening in your area, maybe that's contacts right? You need a lot of contact work. You need to be proofing your contacts or working on your contacts, and maybe that's not

very fun for you. Right? - Right. - And maybe, even though you don't need a lot of work on your handling, things are going well there, maybe going out and having a nice, fun, short sequence with your dog where you get the speed, and the connection, and you're running, and your dog is running, and you can videotape it, and look at it, and your dog looks amazing. Maybe

that's what you need not to build your skill but you need that to create the motivation to then go work on your contacts next week. Right, so it's like give yourself some room to positively reinforce yourself and your dog actually. Give them things that they enjoy. Positively reinforce both of you for your efforts so that you have. Like, you need to build up a well of motivation that

you can dip into for the hard stuff. And right now you have no reserves. You have no motivation reserves to dip into. You have no reserves to go and take out a withdrawal of motivation to work on something hard, right? - Right. - So you need to build up your balance of motivation before you can make that withdrawal. - I really like that. - I think you just

described me in my current situation with my young border collie Surprise. I'm like dreading training contacts. I love to go out and work the handling, the jumps, and the tunnels. And so I'm like, I go out and I find myself doing what I wanna do and not what I need to do. I mean, she doesn't care. Anything is great. But as I got better at the handling and

we would make progress over the past like six weeks, I'm like, oh, this is kind of reinforcing. Like, this is good. We're seeing progress. We're seeing improvements. So then I was like, maybe I'll start working on her A frame today. Maybe I'll play around a little bit with the teeter. And I mean, what you just described is exactly, exactly what I just went through with her. So we

actually now have an A frame after, since what COVID shut down the middle of March, and I avoided it, and it's now October or November, and I have an A frame. So what you described is exactly what happened, and it's so true. Do what you want to do, make sure it's fun for you, and as that builds, you can then go into what maybe you don't want to

do what you need to do knowing that you have a little bit of that success to ride on. So 100% agree there. - Exactly. And yeah, go ahead. - Well, no, I think I find that very helpful. I really hadn't considered the social aspect of it. I think that's very cool. And so I probably need to put out some kind of personal ad in a paper, or on

the internet, or do people still use Craigslist? Is that a thing? Have young, inexperienced dog. Need virtual training partner. - That's right. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I mean, there's- - It's almost like there's like this business or something that like has these three great people that could help train with you, and motivate you, and give you feedback. I mean, what a concept. Maybe there's a resource out there for

you. - That's right. - You need to send me their email so I can- (laughing) - That's right. And Jennifer had pointed out when we were discussing this podcast. I mean, this is what classes are for a lot of people. They are, they schedule. We talked about scheduling the time, making it a habit, just do it even if you don't feel like it. That's what classes do for

you. And so a lot of people, the class might be the one time that they you dig into that well of motivation, and they go and they work their dog. And it's a little bit harder when you lose that set time aspect. The online classes can definitely help because there is a feeling of pressure in a good way. Just a little bit of an expectation. You've paid your

money. That adds a little bit of motivation for you to go out and do the work. You still have to schedule the time. You still have to find the time. And Jennifer also brought up another great point cause it's, I think yesterday I was looking out the window cause we don't drive anywhere anymore, right? We don't go to work right now. We're at home. And so I'd kind

of, it kind of had passed by me this feeling of the time change that just happened. - Oh yeah. - And so the other day, I looked out the window, and I was like, is it a storm or something? It's so dark out. And then I was like, no, it's night, and it's like six o'clock. And that can be really hard for a lot of people. And I

remember back before COVID when I did go to work, I remember just that horrible feeling of, it's completely dark when I go to work, and it's completely dark when I get back, right? And after a couple of days, you just feel angry at the sun. (laughing) - Been there. - So Jennifer, what do we do about, what do we do about the sun, Jennifer? - Yeah, I just

today, I was like, oh, better start making dinner. The sun's going down. It was 4:45. (laughing) - Oh my goodness. - I was like, okay, a little early. But yeah, I think that's something this week, we just had that time change, people have been talking about. And with my guys, sometimes I have that same lack of motivation, and it's nine o'clock, and you look at the dogs, and

you didn't do anything with them. And then this guilt comes in. That's where I'm at. I get real guilty. Well, it's nine o'clock, it's dark outside, or now it's five o'clock and dark outside. And my go-to is I get out my fitness equipment. I get out some balance discs or fit bones, and I just do a little bit in the evening in the living room. And something is

better than nothing. So not all agility training is agility equipment or handling because even though you might only be doing a little bit of fitness, that's going to help you in agility. You're strengthening, you're getting coordination, you get proprioception. So that when your dog does kinda get on the dog walk a little awkwardly, they have the core strength to hang on, or they have that extra little power

to get over a jump. And sometimes those sessions can be super short. You can do a lot in eight or 10 minutes of fitness with the dogs, and it doesn't have to be, drive to the field, set the equipment, stay for an hour class, drive home. So right, now I've been, in the evenings, doing a lot of kind of their fitness stuff. Again, doing something to stimulate them,

which will also have the payoff for agility down the road. - Yeah, I, 100% agree with that. And I think it's especially true with young dogs. I remember. I mean, even now I feel like it's very true for our dogs who are now a year and a half, but when they were puppies, cutting their nails, I count that as activity. Like it was, I count that as training.

It was kind of an event to do their nails. It needed to get done, but they got treats. They got rewards. They got to do other behaviors in between to help kind of break up the session. And so- - Yeah, so maybe I'm setting the bar a little too high. - Yeah. - It's like trying to work out for the first time, and you're like, I'm gonna do-

- A marathon. (laughing) - Yeah, yeah. - That's crazy. But even just, even just a mile, right? Like today I'm finally gonna go out and exercise. I'm gonna go run a mile. Okay, that's a really great way to quit the next day, right? Because it was too much, it was too hard, and you weren't ready for it physically or emotionally. So let's just, I think it's totally legitimate

to ease into things. And I would go back, I think the number one absolute biggest thing that you can do is do something consistently, right? And so, I go back to that schedule some time, make it a habit. Don't stress about what it is you're doing with that time. Just make it consistent. And then it won't be too long before you start planning what you're going to do.

You start looking forward to it. You start seeing improvement in your dog, and that feeds the whole cycle. And then you start to have a little bit more structured training where you put together a training plan, and you have the skills that you wanna work on. And now you've moved out of this trying to get over the hump of motivation and more into a kind of a maintenance

level, a normal motivation cycle where you can schedule your time, and your energy, and the skills that you want to work on in kind of a more- - Yeah, I used to set it up where I would in the evenings on the commercial breaks of whatever show. You sit down for an hour or two each night, and you're watching TV. And I would say commercial breaks, I was

always gonna do a little bit with the dogs, whether it was a puppy and I was shaping, or whether it was the fitness stuff. Well then like Netflix came along, and now there's no commercials. And about two years ago when I was trying to get Swift in some really good shape after a shoulder injury, my rule was I would only, I was only allowing myself to watch Netflix

if I had already done something with Swift. So like it wasn't a schedule where it was like, okay, every night at 6:30, but it was like, my personal reward was based on going out and doing something with my dog. And it was like, it worked because I was like, oh, I had good self-control, but I was like, okay, I can't turn on Netflix. I can't turn on my

show. I haven't done anything with Swift. Go out and do a few minutes with him, whatever they come in. So on the scheduling, I agree 100%. Do something consistent, get out there, but it doesn't have to be a time. You can set it up that way. Oh, I'm not gonna have dessert. Esteban and his sweets. (laughing) - No sweets. - You know me too well. - Unless you've

done something with the dogs that day. - Yep. All right, how do you feel? - That's really good. Thank you. I really appreciate that from both of you. I've got some solid ideas. I'm definitely gonna message some people then I think. I think I like the virtual training partner idea, and I'm gonna get out there tomorrow. It's already too dark. As you mentioned with the darkness, tonight, and

just, you don't wanna get out there in the night but yeah, I think maybe tomorrow I get out there. - All right, wll, you know what? This podcast will probably go out tomorrow. So I am going to put a footnote in the show notes that says whether or not you got out there tomorrow with your dog. - Oh, that's pressure. (laughing) - Just a little extra motivation for

you there. - Nice. - So everybody, y'all can look at the show notes and see if he kept his plan there for training tomorrow. - Nice. - All right, well, that's it for this week's podcast. We'd like to thank our sponsor, Happy training. (upbeat music)

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