Last week, I put polls in our Free Agility Workshops Facebook Group, asking what you would love some help with for your agility training. One of the most popular choices so far is “how to stay connected with my dog for the entire run”, so I’m sharing tips today.
What’s Your Number? (The $100 Susan Garrett Wager)
The first thing I want you to do is to know your number. Not sure what I mean? I’ve got a video below to inspire you to think of your number… and I want you to be ready to wager on it.
How many obstacles are you confident you can routinely handle successfully on any given course? If you were going to bet me $100, how many would it be? Let me know your number in the comments!
From this day onward I want you to rehearse success for your dog and for yourself. Do not attempt to run any sequence longer than what your number is.
It will all make sense as you read on and learn how to consistently rehearse handling success. It is not a coincidence that people who have been in agility for a long time have success dog after dog. They have figured out how to rehearse success from the ground up.
How to Handle by the Number
The next time you are doing a sequence, and say it’s got 12 obstacles, while your number is 3, rehearse success by starting at the end and doing the last 3 obstacles. If your number is 6, you would do the last 6 obstacles.
I’m using 3 in the example here because I already had the graphics from a workshop in Agility Nation, which was a deep dive into rehearsing handling success for confidence.
Walk that last sequence of 3. Plan to start with your dog on the path you would be on if you were coming from 9 to 10 when running the full sequence.
After walking the set of 3, turn away from it, close your eyes and visualize running it with your dog while you are making the handling moves. Visualize it so well that you could say “I’ve got a 100-dollar bill, and I’m putting it here on the table because I believe my dog and I can nail this sequence!”.
Now, go out there with your dog and own those last 3 obstacles.
When you have nailed the last 3 obstacles, move onto 7, 8, 9. Walk it. Visualize it. Nail it. Set up on the path you would be on from 6 if you were running the full sequence.
Now that you’ve nailed 10, 11, 12 and 7, 8, 9, it’s time to add in the transition between 9 and 10. You can do a sequence of 6 because you have rehearsed success and your confidence will be high!
Can you see where we are going here? Run obstacles 4, 5 and 6. And move on to 1, 2, and 3. You’re now running sequences with success. You are not on the course making mistakes, getting frustrated or tiring out your dog, you are going out there and nailing it time after time.
With your success, you’ve now earned the right to run the first 6 obstacles to get the transition between obstacles 3 and 4.
I’m sure you can guess what’s next. Yes, you are right, it’s the transition between obstacles 6 and 7.
There’s now nothing on this course that you cannot do! Run the full set of 12 obstacles. You’ve got this! Go out there and NAIL IT.
If you are just starting out, begin with your number at 2 or 3. If you’ve got experience but can’t think what your number is, start at 5 and then with success at that, move up to 6 the next time.
When you keep rehearsing success with your number, your number will get higher. You’ll be able to say to me “Susan, my number is 30, get ready to hand over that $100”.
I promise you if you do your sequencing this way you WILL have success.
Start keeping track of how many successes you get the first time. When you are running courses in a competition, you only get a ‘first time’, and there are no do-overs. Rehearsing success now will prepare you and your dog for longer sequences and full courses.
And if you are teaching agility, this is a brilliant way to strategize with your class for success and it will keep your class moving at an engaging pace.
Remember to let me know in the comments what your number is, and report back when you have tried handling by that number.
Today I am grateful for beautiful sunrises that I see on early morning walks with my dogs.