May 6, 2021

Episode 284: How to Get a Perfect 1600 on Your Next Agility Run

In this episode (38:37)

In this episode, Jennifer, Sarah, and Esteban apply concepts from “How to Get a Perfect 1600 SAT Score” to dog agility. Implement these study habits to your training for maximum results!

You Will Learn

  • How to distinguish between high-quality and low-quality practice.
  • How to emphasize quality over quantity.
  • How to be ruthless about understanding your mistakes.
  • How to find patterns in your weaknesses.
  • How to eliminate careless errors.
  • How to develop amazing study habits.
  • How to deal with pressure.


- Listening to bad dog agility, bringing you training tips, interviews, and news about the great sport of dog agility. (bright music) - I'm Jennifer. - I'm Esteban. - And I'm Sarah. And this is episode 284. - Today's podcast is brought to you by and the Teeter teach it an easy to use tool that controls the amount of tip on your Teeter so you can introduce motion to

your dog in a gradual way. Go to for the new Teeter "Teach It!" and other agility training tools and toys. Use discount code BDA10 to get 10% off your order. That's Today we're gonna talk about how to get a perfect 1600 on your next agility run. I know that a lot of you out there might be a little bit confused. So what has happened

is the scores for the SAT came back. So here in the United States, we have a big college entrance exam, is called the SAT. They also have the ACT, but this is the SAT, and the best score you can possibly get on the SAT is a perfect score and that is a 1600. And so in helping our high school son prepare for this exam, we actually didn't help

him very much at all. He had to do all the work. We're just like, "Hey buddy, good job," "Keep studying." We found a really great article of course, after the fact, after the score was done right after the test was done and the scores were in, he did fine. By the way, he did great. And we found this guide and it was so good. And so applicable to

dog agility. We said, we've got to make this podcast. - Yeah, I was reading this and I was reading it for the SAT, but right away, I said, "Wow, this is like... This is exactly like the advice that I would give for getting better at dog agility." There are so many great points here. So, we're just gonna use this as a pattern here. We're gonna go through the

steps, the steps to perfect your agility. - That's just live, Jennifer, are you like this? Like I walk into a donut store and I think how is this applicable to dog agility? - Oh yeah. That's the case of anything. I mean, maybe not the donut shop, but a lot of people are talking and I'm like, "Oh exactly just like dog agility." (Jennifer chuckles) - Exactly. Dog agility is

life. Life is dog agility. - That's right. Exactly right. - All right, well, let's get started right away. Step number one of this very good guide. And what we're gonna do is we're gonna to put a link to the guide, the original article into the show notes page. So for those of you who took the SAT, you live that experience. You can relive the horse, and have all

the bad dreams where you showed up for the SAT in your underwear, and you had not prepared at all. - That's right, or if you just want other examples of how you apply this concept to other things, it'll give you some great examples - Right, so step number one is do high quality practice, and avoid low quality materials. Now, in the context of the SAT, their point is

that especially now in 2021, there is so much stuff out there. - So much instructional type stuff. - Books that you can buy online courses that you can sign up for. Do you want to go with Princeton Review? Do you want to go with Kaplan, right? Now, there are high schools that directly offer SAT prep as a course. Like you can take that as a course. There's so

much material out there. What is the best material for the SAT, they say you want the actual old questions, right? Which makes a lot of sense. You want to study the questions that have been on the test before, because those questions or similar questions will be on the test against when we apply this to agility. I'm thinking coursework. - Yeah absolutely, I mean, I think there's coursework, there's

small space work based on coursework. So these are, you know, this is why a lot of the exercises that we give our students are based on real courses. Because those are the real challenges that are popping up in courses all over the country. And it really gives handlers an opportunity to work on different real world challenges. - Yeah, exactly. - And I think about this in terms of,

you know, materials also just the instruction that you're getting not even the content necessarily, but with the instruction that you're getting, whether it'd be online or in real life is the person that you're working with or the content that you're working with relevant. Do they know what challenge is? Are they out there studying course maps and trends in the sport? Do they have experience addressing the same thing

that you're working through? Maybe that's some of the similar problems, maybe it's running a dog similar to your size, or breed similar to your size, but having quality education, the instructing part of it not just the content to me can be so crucial as well. Having a good coach, a good mentor, a good instructor. - Absolutely. And I think we've talked specifically. I think we have like a

whole podcast just about instructing and how to find great instructors and what to look for an instructor. So I'll make sure to put that in the short notes, but yeah we're talking about the work that you do and the instruction that you're getting. - Right. Well, there's a personal example when I first started, and I had the, but you know my first golden retriever, Gypsy, I was like,

who are the other good golden retriever agility people. And they were right there in Houston over at flash pause, Jane Simmons spoke they had the best golden retrievers in the nation. And so I said, "Okay, I have a golden, they have a golden. This makes sense to me. They try and AKC, I try on AKC, let's do this." So that makes a lot of sense. Now there's a

lot of different venues out there. So let's say that you do 100% Naidoc full-time. It might not necessarily make sense for you to train with someone who has no knowledge of Naidoc. Right. Unless that's the only thing that is available to you, for example. But when you're talking about course where it doesn't make sense to go out there and be setting up constantly AKC premier jumpers courses. -

Right. - Right. I think you want to get out and do Naidoc course as much as you can. Certainly, when I was getting ready for a tryout events for these a European Open and Jelly World Championship site type stuff, I wasn't out there setting up AKC novice and open courses. We were going and finding courses directly from the judge and I think that's why this tip is so

powerful because people get lost. There's so much material out there. You're like, "Where do I begin?" Well, think about what you wanna do. What kind of runs are you going to be doing in the ring and then go and find those courses and train to that course. - Exactly. All right, step two. We have focus on quality first, quantity second. And I think this is a huge one.

And when we were talking, Jennifer was like, "Oh my, yes." So why was this such a hot button issue for you, Jennifer? - Yes, this is absolutely my favorite step of this and I know we've talked about it in the past, but I am super big on quality over quantity. I know we've talked in the past that many people would probably be surprised at the quantity of training

that my dogs get or rather the lack of quantity of training that they get. I think people think, well, "You'd teach agility for a living, your dogs must get eight hours a day of education?" When in reality, that is not the case at all. But I do make sure that what I do is very high quality. I don't go out there wandering around, "Well what are we going

to do today? Oh, this is set up." Everything is kind of calculated and planned out. Right, whether it's a young dog and I'm following kind of a protocol to build them up, whether it's a seasoned dog and I'm breaking down and evaluating the performance of the last couple of trials, identifying weaknesses going out there. And I think a lot of people just go out, and, "Oh well I

had a problem with serpentine. So let's just set up a million serpentines and work them." That's not quality necessarily. That can be quantity of doing a lot of what was the weakness, but what really is the issue? Is it the lack of sin? Is it the lack of commitment? Is it the convergence? Is it a jumping issue? Is it a stride issue, breaking it down and finding out

what really was the issue allows you to work it in smaller sections and I think better address it. So, you know, again, another thing we've talked about in the past, I don't, I don't like to run when I train, I have the flip-flop rule. If I can train it in flip flops, I'm happy, but to go out and run a course, not really my favorite thing, but so

many of my issues when I break them down can be solved or at least worked on and improved with three to five jumps. I don't need a full field of equipment, or even might... just earlier today, my three-year-old Border Collie I was working on just a down ramp and a mat. That's it. Now she's in Masters, competing, running dog walks but based on the issues that we were

having, I didn't need a full length dog walk in the field with full speed. I needed identify the issue and really focus on the quality of the training. So to me, this is just so key in having some breakthroughs on performance. - This is such a powerful concept that you're talking about. Let's say your dog is having problems with backsides, right? And so what do a lot of

people do they say, "Hey, we need to set up more international courses." So over the course of a month, they say maybe we set up four to six international courses. And each international course you may do anywhere from one, two, three backsides, right? Three and four is already a lot. How many backsides is that really? But let's just have one or two sessions where you set up just

one or two jumps, or three, and then you just do your backsides there and you work on improving the independence of it, right. And the speed of it and the confidence, the fluency there. And then you can get in many, many more repetitions. It doesn't make sense to have to go pick out your course maps, set up entire courses and do all of those. If your goal is

backsides, you want to really hone in there and really emphasize that quality. So I really liked how you put that Jen. - Yeah.. - I also think, Oh, go ahead. - (Sarah chuckles) You go ahead, Jen. - I'm also, I think I'm, in my years in this sport I've also put a lot more emphasis on quality over quantity because of just the physical wear and tear on the

dogs. You know, your dog only has so many jumps in them in their lifetime and make them count. You know, I think, especially I look at Swift, he's eight and a half. He's had a very, very, you know, intense career. He's an intense dog. So at this point, when I go out to train him, it's very thoughtful. It's very meticulous in terms of, okay what am I going

to do? Because I don't want to risk injury. I don't want to overdo it. I don't want to work a dog on, you know to the point of them coming up lame or whatever. So I think the, the emphasis we've seen over the years of the physical wellbeing of our dog, you know, I think back when I started agility and new can show a dog at 12 months,

there was no chiropractors massage. There was no warmup. You just like pulled them out of the car and put them back in and where we are today. And that, I mean, I will dedicate an entire session to just my dog's strength and conditioning on some days that's all we'll do. And that's their training because it's so important to me. So I think that's changed my thought on quality

over quantity as well. Is that the wear and tear don't do it just to do it. You would be really upset with yourself. If you walked away with the dog that was injured while you were training, you know, without a good plan or nothing, that important. - Right. And that was literally the point that I was gonna make, but on a smaller scale. So you're kind of talking,

the dog has a certain number of jumps in their lifetime. I was gonna make the same point for a single session. Like the dog only has so much that they can give it is a physical sport. They only have so much they can give in any given session that you do. And so again, that quality is important, again quantity comes in second and it's not just physical. It's

also mental, you know, there's only so much you can ask your dog to pay attention. So this kind of goes into one of our mantras has always been short sessions, right? Like super short sessions, SSS. - Especially with you guys in that Texas heat, - Right. - You guys have to really be thoughtful about when you train and what you're doing because climate and everything is right. And

I've seen so many dogs also that you know, when a Heeler keeps pushing, trying to get in those extra reps to work on something and the dog is not either mentally or physically prepared, they start getting worse and worse with every repetition. And so instead of improving you actually are taking backward steps and, you know, ending on you know, a frustrating experience for both of you. So just

really keeping it short, I think is key. - Yeah, and I'll close by saying that in the article they talk about having Tom Brady. Who's the quarterback. Well now for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won them a Super Bowl but long-time quarterback for the new England Patriots very successful in professional football. And they say, you need Tom Brady as a tutor to help you out. Right? Because that tutor

is gonna make sure that you get the most out of training. And that's why it's important to find someone that you can work with. You know, a fellow competitors, peers, a training group, an instructor, an online instructor. That's what we do for our VIP members in the Academy. So we are there, Tom Brady and you know, I don't really like Tom Brady. So I'm sad they use that

example, but you get the idea, someone who knows what they're doing and they can tell you because a lot of you just listen to everything that Jen and Sarah said, and you say, "Wait, I've never even thought of these things." You know, "I didn't know that, how do I know, how long can my dog go." And all this sort of stuff? Well, so for a lot of the

people that we work with it really depends on their skill level but we will have them submit not just like their actual run, where they just kinda... They clip everything else out. But I'll say, "Show me your entire training session. I want to see all the stuff that you're doing in between your attempts. I want to get a sense of the dog's attitude. I want to see how

you reward the dog. I want to see what kind of interactions you're having." If you're talking, you know, with other people. And so then I get an idea of not just how you handle a course, which is important but remember a lot of dog agility is dog training. And so I want to know how you train dogs. What is the nature of your relationship and how does it

interact with the environment, especially for these dogs that stress? They don't do quite as well in their weekly practice or trials than they do at home. - Exactly. All right. So our next step is, and I really liked this one. (Sarah Chuckles) We like all of these but be ruthless about understanding your mistakes. What's the first thing that pops into your mind? First thing that pops into my

mind video review, (Sarah chuckles) how many times, I mean you could probably make a drinking game out of how many times we say video review the fact that- - It's not just video reviewing Because I think a lot, almost everybody, right? Videos, their runs, unless they can get it done. And I see Jen actually shaking her head here and you know what, okay, I'm gonna give you that

jet. I'm going to give you that because maybe I surround myself with people- - You surround yourself with people who film, that's how they access you, right? You write online. Let me tell you, the number of times students will come in live, they'll start telling me about the run. I'm like, "well, do you have it? Can I see it? Can I see what happened?" No, no. I mean,

I don't think most people video, it's getting better. Its getting better, but you are surrounding yourself with people that matter. - Okay, I'm going to give both of you that. And I'm going to add that even just videoing is not enough, when they're talking about being ruthless. They mean, do not kid yourself. Because there are people who are like, "Hey, my dog did this. My dog did that.?

And I'm saying like, look, if your dog understood the contact criteria you wouldn't have to stand right next to the A-frame of the Teeter and the dog walk every time. And then they wouldn't go off course immediately after that when there are multiple choices in the area, you know, it is a handling issue a little bit. But if you fixed your context, you could lead out a little

bit, and now indicate much more clearly what is coming next. So a lot of people kind of kid themselves, right? They lie to themselves. They deceive themselves about what their weakness are. - Yeah, and this reminds me also, and I will link to this podcast 'cause it is a whole podcast just on this one topic about analyzing your mistakes and you have to be able to go through

and figure out was this mistake and handling error, did I choose the wrong thing, or did I just execute it not well? I didn't do it very well, but it's a good move, you know? And those are, you know, have different solutions. So you really have to understand the root of the problem and not just say well, or even in practice. So many people will do a front

cross. And if they've got through the sequence they'll say, "It was done, it was good enough." But you have to look at it and say, "Was it a good front cross, could it have been better with a rear, could I do it with the rear, so that I have both of those skills?" - That's right. And let me read this from the article, "Every mistake you make on

a test happens for a reason. If you don't understand exactly why you missed that question you will make that mistake over and over again." Jen, what do you think about that? - You beat me to the punch. I was just getting ready to comment. You know, you mentioned how some people will kind of lie to themselves. I think in a lot of cases, it's not conscious. Meaning they

don't actually understand where the mistake is coming from or why the mistake is happening. It's not that they don't want to believe it or they're in denial about it. They genuinely don't understand that. And I was just going to comment that in the article, it talks about if you don't understand exactly why you missed it you're going to make the mistake over. And I see that when I

do look at runs or when I do look at videos or even when I watch things live and I will never forget an incident that happened maybe 18 to 24 months ago (throat clears) where somebody was showing me their run and telling me that they had a... I think it was like a front cross issue. It must've been a front cross, they were trying to get ahead. When

we broke it down. And we went back to what the actual problem was. It was because they were managing their A-frame. They didn't get ahead. So they felt like it was a front cross issue and I clearly pointed out it was a contact issue and they went, "Oh, you're right I never thought about that." They didn't see the two as connected and correlating. So if you don't understand,

if you can't break it down to the finer points or have the knowledge or the experience or someone who can help you, then you're not gonna be able to fix the problem to then improve down the road. - Right. And I'm gonna throw up a completely made up statistic that I just made up on the spot. - Nice, nice. - But it'll give you a general idea. I

would guess that like 50% of mistakes that are made happen at the mistake, and 50% of mistakes that are made happened well, earlier. - Earlier, I would even say impossibly more than 50% earlier- - Like 70/30, 70% of mistakes. - Yeah. Agreed. - Now you're both just out there riding each other. - Right. - Do you mean that's not how this works? We don't just make ups statistics.

- Right. But the idea here that people need to understand is we think the majority of times when you're looking at a mistake that moment that the mistake happened is not the root cause. The root cause happened one to two to three obstacles earlier. And that's where you have to go look for the real mistake. - Right. Right. Right. One other thing the article says, "Is to go

just one step deeper." So first level thinking is, "Hey, I'm not good at re front crosses." Go one step deeper. What about it? Are you not good at, "Oh, I'm always starting it late." Which is a different problem from my footwork is very poor. Or, "After I do a front cross, I get lost on the course." Those all require different solutions. - Right. - Yeah. - I really

liked the other thing that they have here. And I've heard this before too. Is just to keep asking why until you can't anymore. So, you know, "I couldn't get to the front cross." Well, "Why couldn't you get to the front cross?" Well, "I wasn't ahead of my dog." Well, "Why weren't you ahead of my dog?" Well, "Because I had to be at the A-frame." well, "Why did you

have to be at the A-frame?" Well, "Because if I didn't, my dog would not stop and hit the content." - Right. That is the real problem there. And so a lot of times that's what we're looking at. When we look at our students runs we're looking at the, okay, well, "If that didn't work there, what could we have done different?" And most of the time we can find

somewhere else you could've done something better to make, you know that hailing choice work. - Right. Right. I really liked that. - All right. So next step is to find patterns in your weaknesses and drill them to perfection. So I think here is the, I've heard Jennifer use the phrase. I think turning your weaknesses into strengths. So, you know, the idea of, you know don't shy away from

your weaknesses, right? A lot of people, they find a weakness. Okay, great. "I have a weakness in front crosses." So what is their conclusion? "I don't do front crosses." Right? I mean, yes, you're going to be better and worse at some things, but you should continue to work the skill and work towards having it be an option. It's not always going to be for every dog and handler

team but for a lot of dog handler teams they can get better at the things that they're weak on. They can become strengths. They can become areas where you have options in your handling. - Yeah. I think there's a tendency to work on what we're good at. Right? - Yeah. I'm constantly telling people in class and private lessons, "You know, you're not here to impress me, you're not

here to get a green ribbon. So don't show up to a training situation and run what you know, you can do. Save that for the trial, right? Your trial is your chance to go out and run your, your best plan your favorite plan In training you should come out here and say, okay, I'm going to discuss with the instructor, what options we have, And then I'm going to

run the one that I'm weakest at. So that eventually that weak skill becomes a strength." But I, you know, constantly students want to come especially in private lessons, you know ,we're doing stuff and they wanna run it clean on the first try and I get that's great for your ego. It really is great to go out there and run it clean on the first try. But that's not

what trainings is for trainings to run the weaknesses, work through them and make those better and turn those weaknesses into strengths just as you said, Sarah - Right? And that is the pattern that we that we take with the prep courses. And then with our small space exercises and the VIP program is here's a sequence and here's three or four ways to run it, right? Not one way

to run it three or four ways to run it. And there are going to be a lot of times, you know which is best for you and your dog. And it is true. But sometimes, one of the ways that you wouldn't have considered or you didn't feel comfortable doing becomes the smoothest best path. And then you learn something about you and your dog as a team. And it

happens still to me, you know, when I first look at it as sequence and I know I'm going to run it four ways there are still times when I am surprised by one way that I put in as an option. But at the end of doing all of the options, it felt really good. It felt really smooth. It timed really well. - Well, it's interesting that you say

you can get you can still be surprised, right? You have so much experience. You've been in the sport a long time. You're running a very good dog for all these demos because this is not just a problem for beginner handlers or people who have a dog that isn't very motivated. I think of a European Style Handling several years ago not in recent years. I think in recent years

we're getting more balanced but there was a time when rear crosses fell completely out of favor. And very few people did them or could even do them. And their solution in tough spots would be, "We're just going to take the wide turn here or we're going to have to take the longer path. We don't do rear crosses. It causes X, Y, and Z, right? We just don't want

to do them." And so these are people but they're, "Let me show you my beautiful wrap again. Let me show you this backside skill." You know, they stay focused on their strengths. They're not looking at the weaknesses that has shifted as courses have evolved, and now rear crosses. And that, that phrase, that, that, that concept of distance work is making its way back into very very high level

international agility. - All right, next step, eliminate careless errors. I think maybe this one is not quite as applicable in agility, but I think that we have fewer careless errors. Maybe mental errors is a better phrase but I usually associate them less with being careless and more with kind of the mental management side of agility, right? Being able to stay focused, being able to to make quick decisions

and things like that on course. - I think of careless errors in the context of agility and agility runs in trials is make sure you walk the right course, make sure you finish at the right jump. Many times in the past year, they've come back over the start jump as like obstacle 16. And then you turn to 17, 18, 19. Well, because it's obstacle 16 and people see

the timer eyes they just stop walking the rest of the course, or they won't look at a map. They'll just go out and walk the course. And one of the jumps was bi-directional, but because they didn't look at the map and they were just following where the cone is they didn't catch that. You know, those are careless errors, right? Missing your walk through, and walking the wrong course,

stopping to really not recognizing something was bi-directional. You know, those are things that I do think in the situations that I recall it is kind of just laziness and carelessness on the part of the exhibitor, right? - I think the final step we have here and I think they have maybe one or two additional steps that I don't think are really pertinent to agility. But the final step,

I think, as far as agility is concerned is to develop amazing study habits. So for the SAT, they made the point that if you're looking for a top score you might have to put 200 hours of studying but it can't just be any kind of studying, right? Your job is to get the most bang for your buck. The most you can out of every minute, every hour of

study. And so habit, number one that they put up there is create a schedule and force yourself to stick to it. And I think that's where weekly classes, maybe a structured online course, those things can really help you out. Especially if you're training on your own. Or if you know you're going to have that weekly private lesson with Jennifer or the, or the monthly, you know you kind

of get ready because even though it's not supposed to be like a trial sometimes it feels like it is. You want to show off for Jennifer there. I think when you think about that and you plan out all your trials and you look at the schedule, there's a rhythm, it makes sense that you should be working on this now that later. And there's like a calendar that everyone

should kind of... a mental calendar of how you're going to train. All right. Habit. Number two is to eliminate all distractions. I think this is a huge one. Jennifer, what are the biggest distractions you see with live students? - Yeah. When I was looking over this I was like, "Yes, yes, yes, yes this." With classes, I do a lot of privates, but I also do some classes. I

know people love to do classes with their friends. You kind of get your clicks you get your crew, you get your group. You guys started with young dogs and you get together. But the more and more you train with your people the more casual that class gets. And the more you see people talking about their weekend or what they did or their kid's baseball game or the recent

vet visit while somebody is out on the floor. So the classes that are sometimes maybe like a new mix of people and people are a little bit uncomfortable actually tend to be very good classes to teach because everybody's sitting there quiet. They're paying attention to the instructor. They're watching, they're listening. And they're listening when it's not just their turn. But in those classes where people get really comfortable,

you'll see people have more of a tendency to only listen to the instructor or pay attention when it's their turn. And when it's not their turn, they're often the, you know sidelines chatting with people or reviewing people. And I know classes are structured different. I try to teach to the class. I try to come down and talk to them and present to them. But yeah, when you get

into classes with your friends it's easy to get distracted. As far as private lessons. The biggest thing that I see with distractions is people come with multiple dogs. One dog is barking in the crate while they're working the other dog and that's distracting them, leave them in the car, go put them in a different room. I don't see the distraction with another person happened as much in privates

because it's either a private words or semi-private just one other person. And you are in a more intimate setting. The obvious, you know, cell phones. I-watches all those things. I don't find those to be as much of an issue. I find the class environment is what can be super distracting for people. - Right? And it's, it's a very social time, but you... I guess for me, the big

thing is to recognize that you are missing out on some additional opportunities to get better, right? Like, so as long as you, you know, like, if it's your social time and that's what you were there for and the person you're talking to that's also what they're therefore, you know, okay. You know, you can get some of that out of it. But if...but this was not how to have

fun and agility. We have other podcasts for how to have fun at agility. This how to get a 1600, this is how to be perfect. This is how to get, you know as good as you can possibly get. And that requires, you know, really focusing... - Right. Well, there's a time and place for everything. And you want to make sure that in the context of a class so

you're not taking away from your classmates, but you're not taking away from yourself and your own dog as well. - Absolutely. - All right. And habit number three is to have a positive mindset. Your job is to grow. The article makes the point that you will make mistakes. Those mistakes will cause frustration. The exact same thing happens in dog agility. I know we're working with these puppies and

we've been taking them out to a new place where we rent these facility just to get them out in a way from our yard. And it was two or three weeks before we could get them to take a tunnel. Right? So these things are gonna happen. You're gonna feel frustrated, but you've got to channel all of that frustration into learning. Every mistake is an opportunity. Jennifer, how do

you keep a positive mindset going in your classes, especially for these beginners who aren't doing well. - I think it's important as an instructor too from the instructing side, like let them know. It's, you know, it's normal. We've all been there. We go through our ups and downs, you know. I think sometimes you don't know what you don't know. So for the beginning dogs or the beginning handlers,

I think if you're a new handler, you don't know how long it takes that it can take two, three four years to really become a team. And ease in even the seasoned competitors, say it's eight years until you get another puppy, you forget, right. You know, it's been eight years and it's like, no, this is normal. just it's been eight years since you had a puppy it

takes a little bit of time for them to get it. I think as an instructor, helping to let them know that some of that is normal and that, you know we all have our ups and downs. Even to myself, I'd tell myself, "I'm gonna have my good days where I'm like, man, this is great, today's going great, I want to train all day long, my dog is being

brilliant." And that's gonna be outweighed by the days where just nothing seems to be going, right. So that little bit of highs and lows we all have our off days. Sometimes you wake up and you're like today is going to be a great day. And other days you wake up and you're like can I just go back to sleep? So, not letting those bad days define where your

training is. Not let them define you as an instructor, as a student as an instructor, to your dog, you know, training your dog you'll have those bad days. You got to brush it off, evaluate the session. Why didn't go, what good. Is there anything I can change for the next one? And then go right back out there and try to do better on the next one. - Yeah.

I mean the, the huge irony is that it is easiest to get your motivation up when your dog is doing amazing(Sarah chuckles). Right? But when they're struggling, that's when they need help. That's when they need work. That's when you need to be on your, A game as a trainer when you need to be figuring out what you can do to help your dog more or communicate better or

break down the skill more like that's when they need you. And then that's when the motivation is hardest is when it's not going well. Right? So you just have to keep reminding yourself when things aren't going well, that, no this is the time when my dog needs me. This is the time when, you know we need to work together to come through this. Right? And generally that motivation

is pretty easy when things are going well. All right. So step seven, basically, we're going to skip over because it really is an SAT specific step. Cause they say to get fast enough to double check your answers and then we're going to go straight to here to step eight which I do think is applicable to everybody here. And that's, don't get inside your own head during the test.

And so this basically is, for me, all of the mental management side of dog agility, right? Don't get into your own head thinking about how this is the first round of nationals. And if you include this round you might as well have not come. And you just traveled for two days to get here and all of these things, right? It's like, you really have to keep your focus.

You really have to be focused on what you need to do and not focused on the things that could go right or wrong. - Right. That's, it's so true. I mean, it's so bad that mentally all the years I was running to get you where there is a trial or nationals. I'd mentally just take like a 20-30% cut of whoever was left and be like, yeah, your 20-30%

of people just aren't going to get it done. For whatever reason. You know, they're just going to underperform. And it happens so consistently in dog agility and mental game is such a big part of sports, sports, psychology, it's its own evolving field. The best athletes paid big money to work with people therapists and counselors to develop, and hone their skills on top of, you know, their massage therapist,

and their physical trainer, and their personal trainer, and their weightlifting specialists and their coaches and the assistant coach, and their shooting coach, and all the, all this other stuff it is that specialized. But it's a super important and often neglected. - And I think, I feel like too often it is something that people think about only for big events. And so then they don't have practice at keeping

that centered, you know, energy. Keeping calm, keeping focused and then when they need it, it's not familiar. Right? We want we also want that focus to be something that you bring to your practices and to your local trials because then that focused effort is going to be what feels natural, right? You don't want to be doing something different at the big event, even if the different thing you're

doing is, you know really good focus. You want to have practice at that. - And I was gonna to say not even just only doing that big events but a little bit of I've training too. I see some of my students who I feel have the best mental game and I've never really publicly said this to anybody listening out there, pay attention. My students who, in my opinion

I have some have some of the best mental game. When they train with me, I can not tell how their day is gone. I cannot tell how their day at work went. I can not tell what's happening in their home life because they set it aside. They focus on what they need to be doing there in that moment, right. Versus the people who come in and are upset

with their dog. And I'd say, "So rough day at work." And they're like, "It was horrible, blah, blah, blah, blah blah." Use class, use training, use your private lesson to work on that mental game. I don't wanna be able to know what's happening outside that hour use that, you got to pull into the parking lot. You got to sit there and you got to say, okay I owe

it to my dog. I'm gonna work on like this is national. This is a big event. This is nationals. I'm gonna put it into my training and give me a chance to work on that mental game. Not only at, like you said, not just at the big events not just at the local trials but even in training a little bit as well. - Yeah, I agree. The big

thing that I'm pushing right now with all our VIP members is to train how you trial. All right, so something whatever your approach is, it needs to be the same whatever the picture is, the dog, it needs to be the same. The more similar it is, the better your performance is going to be too many people do better at one than they do at the other. And unfortunately,

most of the time they do better at home. They do better at practice than they are at trials. They're not getting the performances that they want. So you need to bring that same intensity that same level of preparation and focus to your training because that's how you're going to get the 1600 on your next agility run. - That's right. And that brings us to the end of the

article that brings us to the end of our agility take on the subject. I think these are some really, really great tips and it kind of brings together a lot of different aspects. A lot of which we've talked about before but kind of brings it into this cohesive whole that this plan for you to, you know make the most out of all of your training, you're trialing and

to get the best results you possibly can. For You and your dog. - One last thing, before we go we are opening the VIP membership to new members and we do that every year about this time. So it's going to be happening now in just a few weeks and we will help you out with your dog agility. We can be your personal tutor. You're Tom Brady just don't

call us Tom Brady. - That's right. And if you want to make sure that you see that announcement and you can join our mailing list at And that's it for this week's podcast. We'd like to thank our sponsor happy training. (bright music)

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