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Posted on 03/08/10 15 Comments

Having a plan is the best way to tackle trial stress.
Don't hide from your stress, have a plan to deal with it!

So the weekend was fun (in my opinion anyway). It was my first (but I don’t think my last) Creating Your Trial Stress State workshop. I executed more than 20 (some little and some big) stressors over the weekend (that I planned) and I am sure several others that I did not:).  I have a cool photo I was hoping to use from the weekend but I had to leave the house a hour after the end of the workshop and now sit in an airport without any way to up load the photo.

Some of the stressors created where loads of fun for some of us . . . okay maybe I was the only one who truly enjoyed the uber powerful sound system in my building pounding out the Partridge Family’s  “I Think I Love You” at ear splitting levels. Oh, and did I mention the ipod was set to repeat that classic piece of ’70’s music history over and over again for 5 hours straight!  W -a- y -y -y too much fun for an OCD girl like myself.

Yes there were tears, yes there was laughter but the bottom line was teaching people that “It is what it is” and you need not be concerned with things you can not control both in agility and in life.  So each participant was sent off with the assignment of coming up with their own personal “What If Plan” so there are no surprises and no sudden over-reactions when circumstances change.

You own “What if Plan” should include you visualizing your desired response to any possible scenario you may be faced with at your next trial. I am sure some of the participants from the weekend will chime in with their own thoughts on the workshop. But, when creating such a plan, make sure you design something you are going to be able to follow through with. I mean, no need to plan on repeating the seesaw if your dog comes off the contact if you trial only in AKC (a venue that doesn’t allow that).

Personally I am not in favor of giving dogs a second chance in the ring, even if the venue of your choice allows it. An agility trial is a place of evaluating skills. So no hopping the dog up on the end and asking for a good contact position once the dog has blow his contact. You only get one chance to make a first impression and where contacts, weave poles, tables and start lines are concerned first impressions are the lasting ones!

Today I am grateful for all of the break throughs I saw with the TSS participants. Some highs, some lows but lots to move forward with.


  1. Kathy says:
    Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 2:59pm

    What a terrific workshop..As usual you give us a lot to think about ;-D !


  2. Lise Hansen says:
    Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 5:26am

    Dear Susan, I’m sorry that we in Norway do not have this fine opportunity to participate in your famous seminars. Your seminar on “Creating the Perfect TSS” would have been nice if you could share with us.
    Have you planned on making a new “news letter” or a booklet with TSS information? Certainly for sale! I am one of your best buyers of literature aimed at training dogs.! Would like to learn more about TSS: =
    (want to say that I do not have a negative impact of stress in my dogs when I train or compete.) But would be nice to learn much more about this important tropic.

    I would also like to share with you that after I started training my dogs with your methods (basic training), I have now a super-talented 20 month sheltie who is extremely skilled in agility, my 9 year old Hera has also been very good and I have also begun my journey with my new BC puppy and look forward to continuing to train him after your advice. Thank you for sharing great tips on your blog, looking forward to reading these every day.

    Best regards from Norway ……!!


  3. Mary Jo says:
    Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at 9:09pm

    I’m not sure if this sounds like my worst nightmare….or the perfect seminar for me to do! I don’t tend to have trial stress, but boy, do I have issues with repetitive noise of any kind. I have been dealing with barking dogs in my neighborhood (there are dogs barking almost all day long and often in the night as well) and it just grates on my nerves so much (particularly since I work from home and listen to it all day!) I already have tons of stress in my personal and work life and it has really started to push me over the limit and I’ve been trying different approaches to drown it out, distract myself, etc. from it. I always envied people that aren’t bothered by such things.


  4. Joni S. says:
    Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at 11:14am

    I would like to make a “What if ” list….plan. What are some examples from people who went to the seminar? I’m not sure how to go about it. Maybe someone can get us rolling. I have a few idea’s of my own……..


  5. Helen Verte says:
    Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at 11:07am

    Kari’s comment cracked me up!
    I used to listen to the Partridge Family’s album over and over and over again as a teenager. I loved that song, and drove my mom crazy listening to it. Hmmm…I wonder if I’d be the one going crazy now or if I’d still love it after 5 hours. This brings up a question. Like smells, music can bring back feelings. So one song could bring back good feelings for one person, painful for another, neutral for another, and so on. I love the song “After the Love is Gone,” by Earth Wind and Fire, but know someone who gets emotional from it due to it being connected to their first love break-up years ago . I’m just thinking out loud that one song may be a minor irritant to one person while being an enjoyable irritant to another and a painful irritant to the next and so on. So wouldn’t five hours of listening to this song be considered flooding to the person who had a bad association with it while others would just have five hours of a nuisance playing in the background? Is that why you kicked everyone first? To put everyone on a level playing field – so the person with “song trauma” would have such immediate and intense physical pain that it would take their mind away from being flooded with a trigger song that usually caused them pain? 🙂


  6. Lynda says:
    Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at 1:03am

    Most of us here in South Africa take our dogs back onto contacts (where allowed) at shows. We believe the dog will learn that its okay to blow contacts at shows, but must only do it right during training.
    What are your thoughts on that?


  7. Loretta says:
    Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at 12:44am

    Repetitive noises are evil…and I would consider “I think I love you” being played over and over again as one of those such noises. I think only sedatives would help me in that situation! Very interesting ways to cause stress! That for me would do it!


  8. Wendy Atkinson says:
    Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at 12:40am

    Thanks SG!.
    BTW, we westcoasters would prefer Captain and Tenielle’s “Love Will Keep Us Together” or anything by Abba. Bring it, baby!


  9. Kari says:
    Monday, March 8, 2010 at 11:55pm

    Sounds like a great workshop! Andrea, when you mentioned the bruised ankle, I envisioned Susan going around and kicking everyone to start off the session :). Susan, I hope you offer it again. Oh and I could always add to the fun by singing along, very off-key, to “I think I love you”. Luckily that is one thing my dogs are use to.


  10. Mary Muliett says:
    Monday, March 8, 2010 at 7:52pm

    Sounds like a blast, I know I am renewing my passport to be able to head to Canada for some seminars soon!!!

    —-And Andrea I was glad to hear the sore ankle was not something from the workshop 🙂 Hope it feels better!


  11. Jo says:
    Monday, March 8, 2010 at 7:21pm

    Susan – I think you need more practice typing up the blog under stress at the airport – where was your what if plan?? Were they playing Van Halen instead of the Partridge family?
    Seriously – sounds like the workshop was great fun and a wonderful idea – I love the way your mind works!


  12. Tori Self says:
    Monday, March 8, 2010 at 6:56pm

    That is an excellent song. : )


  13. Jodi says:
    Monday, March 8, 2010 at 4:51pm

    Have you ever run a course in Miami temperatures, your winter coat on and The Partridge Family blaring? No you say?…Then sign up for a SY Trial Stress week-end and you too can sweat your ass off, in more ways than one. This workshop was one of the best ever. Susan was in top form throwing it all out at us (I won’t give too many secrets away) but she kept us all under her wing as she pushed us to our limits. She shared her own successes and failures and forced us to face our “holes” in our dog training as well as our strengths. I am inspired, energized and best of all….I GOTTA PLAN!!!


  14. Andrea says:
    Monday, March 8, 2010 at 4:07pm

    But it wasn’t just “I Think I Love You” for 5 hours straight, it was…”I Think I Love You” for 5 hours straight at an unnaturally loud decibel level with Susan shouting advice and the dogs not hearing their release word, while trying to run a course you haven’t walked with a swollen and bruised ankle – It was in my opinion one of, if not the BEST workshop I’ve been to!!!!! And don’t worry the ankle was due to my own clumbsiness – not everyone got one 🙂

    I loved this workshop and found the balance between pressure and release to be perfect. Some of my favourite moments were just listening to Susan talk about her own life experiences, both the highs and the lows, and some of the ways she deals with things like nerves, pressure and negative energy. If Susan does decide to offer this as a regular workshop and you are able to go then you definitely should, it really was an amazing experience with tons of valuable lessons!!! Even if you don’t feel like you get stressed there were so many great exercises and information that everyone can use to enhance their performance, it is so worth the money.


  15. Deb Bogart says:
    Monday, March 8, 2010 at 1:54pm

    O.K….even though I will probably be one of those crying if I have to listen to “I Think I Love You” for 5 hours straight, sign me up for the next time you offer this workshop. Based on where my mind was at during my last 2 trials, this is something I believe I need, as well as what probably all of us need.


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