That Winning Feeling

I’m not talking real estate today, although in some ways this still applies. “That Winning Feeling” is the name of a book by Jane Savoie. I was lucky enough to read this book many, many years ago as I was preparing to show my first dog. I thought of this book yesterday when I was talking with a friend at class. She has entered her dog in the Open A Obedience class at an upcoming trial. It’s their first time in this class and she told me that she expects to not qualify (NQ) the first time but hopes to wrap up the title pretty quickly after that. That statement floored me. I asked her why she thought this way. She said everyone NQ’s their first time. That is simply not true. I have never entered expecting to NQ. I ALWAYS expect to qualify with my dog even if it’s not going to be pretty.

I immediately thought of the book “That Winning Feeling” and I promised to loan it to her ASAP. When she said she would probably NQ I knew that yes, she probably will and it has nothing to do with whether she and her dog are ready. I know they are ready but if she has already convinced herself that it won’t happen, it probably won’t happen. Your subconscious mind will make happen whatever you have consciously decided will happen. (say that to yourself a few times)¬† If I constantly tell myself that my dog cannot cannot come in and sit straight on his fronts, my subconscious will give him some body language that will ensure that he will sit crooked. You must always envision the perfect exercise. Always. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that anything you do is less than perfect. Instead, fool yourself into believing that everything you do is perfect.

Have you ever heard of the term “practice perfect”? It’s not always achievable when you are physically working with your dog but it is achievable in other ways. Take some time to envision the perfect run. I am showing my Tripp for the very first time next weekend. I have already been picturing the show grounds, where my dog is crated and our warm up routine. I keep envisioning our Beginning Novice run. I picture him heeling and sitting on que. I picture a straight front after the recall. I picture every minute detail of this run including how I will hold the leash (I’m using a 6ft, I normally use a 4ft so yes, this is different for me). I picture everything so that when we enter the ring next week, we have already done this run a million times and we’ve done it perfectly. The pressure is off. I will walk in to that ring with confidence that we can do this because we have done this. Tripp will feed off of my confidence and he will work better because of it.

Find your Mantra. My Tucker was an incredibly consistent dog that should have scored higher than he did. He was a hard worker and a 192-193 score was pretty much¬† guaranteed for us. At one show I told myself that we were better than that. I wanted a 196 that day. I started my Mantra – “We will score a 196 today”. I said it over and over as we warmed up. We actually scored a 197 that day. We had been in a rut. I needed to boost us up. Is there a problem area in your performance? Walking slow when heeling use to be a big one for me. Entering the ring was like entering a time warp where everything went in slow motion. I started a Mantra -“heel faster!” I repeated it to myself over and over and soon I had fixed that problem. Mantras can work well for you. “My dog will heel with precision and grace today”. Say it enough, picture it enough and your subconscious will own it. Say it out loud to your dog. Maybe he will own it too!

Enough rambling. buy the book. It’s well worth the read and I guarantee it will up your game no matter what sport you participate in.

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Tucker and I earning our first leg in Utility A at the GRCA National in Gettysburg, PA