My Plan to Get My Agility Mojo Back!

July 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm 1 comment

Lately my agility “mojo” has been pretty off. I haven’t felt like training my own dogs and when I do, it ultimately has left both me and my dogs feeling frustrated. What’s been the cause of this unfortunate trend of frustrating sessions, poor motivation, and lack lustre performance? I’m not entirely sure. It could be that I’m teaching endlessly with no end in sight (don’t feel bad guys…I love to teach!), a line up of big important events to compete at, or basically my tendency to do/think about agility 24/7! Basically I’m feeling pressure to train instead of training for the love of it and this is a problem.

Regardless of the cause, my emotional fire detector (aka Dice) has gone off, so it’s time for a new approach or no training at all. Yes, Dice is very good at saying “mom, seriously, I’ve had enough!” in all aspects of life but especially agility. When she pins her ears back and decides that she’d rather be anywhere but on the agility field it’s a very good sign that I’m putting way too much pressure on her performance. It’s not the first time that she’s had to communicate that my training intensity level is too high or that I’m training for all the wrong reasons. The last time she “sounded the alarm” was two weeks before the 2010 FCI World Championships. I was training for all the wrong reasons and you know what? She quit. That pretty much forced me to take a good look at my motives for training as my amazing little dog decided that agility just wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I decided it was time for me to re-examine my motives and two weeks later she became Canada’s first FCI gold medalist.  

Now maybe this has been going on for awhile since most of my attention has been focused on my students’ dogs and my young border collie Heist. Heist would do agility regardless of how bad my mood is but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t affect his performance. The result is unsuccessful sessions that are definitely lacking in the fun department. Ultimately this helps perpetuate the cycle of frustrating sessions and me putting more pressure on myself to do well. I put more pressure on myself to be successful than anyone else out there watching me which I have found to be a common attitude in agility. Actually this is probably true of most people who are competitive in sports. We are competitive because we WANT to do well and sometimes it is that very desire that holds us back.

So the question becomes…how do I get my agility mojo back?  With the European Open less than two weeks away this is a bit of a pressing issue so here’s my plan:

  1. No Sequencing: I am super analytical when it comes to agility which is great when I’m teaching…it’s not so great when I’m running my dogs since I tend to analyze instead of staying in the moment. Training sequences seems to make me put a lot of pressure on myself and my dog. Because of this, I’m not going to train any sequences before the EO.
  2. Back to Basics: I’ve decided that I don’t need to stop training altogether, but instead change the format of my training. Basically instead of running obsessive dogwalks I’m going to go back to running flat planks in the backyard will all my dogs. Why all my dogs? Because I can’t fixate on one dog’s performance if I split the time up between all of them J It also adds a bit more motivation for Dice since watching my other dogs have fun gets her much more excited. The other thing I’m doing to work on is my turns around trees. This way I can help her maintain flexibility and work some handling skills without the obsession and the over analysis that I’m so prone to!
  3.  Pretend It’s just another competition…haha just kidding! I love the rush of big competitions (so does my dog!), so there won’t be any trying to convince myself that the event doesn’t matter.


So that’s my plan to get my mojo back!

I’m looking forward to a great trip to Sweden and meeting new agility folk along the way! To everyone competing in the European Open, Good luck and see you there!

Happy Training,

Jess Martin

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. pawsitivespirit  |  July 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Jess – wishing you all the very best as you head off to Sweden! Enjoyed your post – I’ve actually been feeling the same way too lately. I think when we teach we are always expending so much energy – always giving – because we want the very best for our students. They are in a way, an extension of us, so if you are a committed teacher, as I know you are, you give more than 100% all of the time. That leaves little left for us…. so, I think it IS important to take a break, do something different, focus on the small things and enjoy the moments that you can spend quietly training your own dogs and just enjoying being with them. That’s been my focus this week and it has felt REALLY GOOD!


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