When we first start out in conditioning, we can easily become overwhelmed at where to start, which exercises to complete, how to best train them and what we can do as handlers to set our dogs up for success. It’s easy to fall victim to “information paralysis” and become confused and frustrated with all the information available at our finger tips. That’s why I took some time to ask the trainers and pro-canine conditioners in my Facebook group the Canine Athlete Pack for their number one piece of advice they wished they knew when they first started out. We got some excellent feedback and I wanted to share with you the most common pieces of advice they gave us and some tips that I have also found to be incredibly helpful over the years.
Do you have a dog who struggles to get through their conditioning session?
Do you have a dog that is unsure about some of the equipment in canine conditioning (e.g. wobble boards)?
Do you find your dog lacks motivation?
Does your dog easily “shut-down” when they make mistakes?
You are not alone!
In my last blog, we took a look at high drive dogs and discussed strategies to get them more focused during their canine conditioning sessions. But what if you own a dog who is the exact opposite and you're trying to find ways to bring them up and improve their confidence? The truth is, not every dog will approach conditioning with a “go get em” attitude and managing low energy can be a huge and discouraging challenge for many owners.
Many dogs struggle with a lack of confidence and it’s important that we, as their training partners, protect our dog’s confidence when we’re training. This means, paying attention to both the subtle and not so subtle cues our dogs are giving us and making adjustments in our sessions as needed (e.g changing equipment to something easier, shortening the training session). I often see handlers rushing their dogs onto equipment by either physically placing them on it or using equipment that their dog isn't quite ready for. I want you to take a moment and think about a situation where maybe you weren’t so comfortable?? A couple years ago, I started a weight lifting program and when I first started, I was not comfortable!! It was so new to me and I was unsure about my mechanics or how to approach my work out! I was so thankful for GREAT coaches who guided and helped me overcome my fears and slowly built up my confidence which led to a more enjoyable and stress-free work out sessions. The same will ring true for the approach you take with your dog who might be showing lower confidence and enthusiasm in the canine conditioning gym.
In this week’s blog, I take a look at how to help build your dog's enthusiasm and confidence for canine conditioning and how some simple changes and games can make a world of difference!
Does your dog struggle with over arousal?
Is your dog easily excitable?
Are your training sessions an exercise in patience?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you are not alone! Over the past year, many of you have seen Miss Keeper on my various social media platforms learning and perfectly her canine conditioning foundation skills. What you haven’t seen is some of my struggles to manger her over arousal and keenness for everything in life. She is eager, full of life, intense and insanely drivey - all the things I want in my up and comer agility dog. Learning to harness this arousal when asking for prevision work in Keeper's canine conditioning ventures has taken some time to figure out and has led to some frustration times/sessions along the way.
In dog sports, you’ll often hear people talk about high drive as a coveted feature of top canine athletes but high drive dogs can be a LOT to handle! Learning to live and work with a high drive dog was something completely new to me and at times overwhelming! Over the past year, with the help of experienced trainers and friends, I have learned a variety of tools to help manage my excitable 10 lbs puppy!! With their advice I was able to change my entire mentality at how to approach everyday life and training (i.e. sport specific training/conditioning work) with Keeper to maximizes our success and limit both our frustrations! With new tools in my toolbox, I was armed and prepared for “most” situations!! As a result, my frustrations drastically lowered and we became a better team in life, sport training and conditioning.
So how can we have a high drive dog and still find success in canine conditioning? In this week’s blog I review some simple strategies that I have learned to help manage my dog’s arousal level in both the canine gym and life!