Have you ever wished you could go back and tell your past self all the things you learned about a new activity? As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20 and sometimes the best way to learn is to try, fail, and grow from the experience. However, there is a workaround to this and that’s to ask for guidance from people who have already walked the same path!
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! So much in fact that we had to write TWO blogs on all the great advice. In our first blog we reviewed the first 5 top tips (you can read more about those here). In this week’s blog we’ll review 5 more common pieces of advice that will help you on your conditioning journey.
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!