I know, I know. Easier said than done.

The truth of it is that there will always be reasons to doubt your abilities or your dog’s potential. You won’t always feel supported. You won’t always get back the effort you put in. You won’t always receive the validation that you feel you need. You won’t always feel that your team is “ready” for the opportunity before you.

Those feelings and thoughts are a part of everyone’s agility journey at some point in some way. To work through the discomfort of self-doubt and to give your best effort in the face of unknowable outcomes is part the journey. To survive those feelings and learn to thrive despite the odds you need to cultivate a sense of belief in yourself and your dog.

If you’re struggling to believe in your team, check out the daily drills below to help you change and strengthen your beliefs.

1. Write Out Your Reasons to Believe

⭐️ 5 reasons your dog is a great a teammate.

⭐️ 5 reason you’re a great teammate for your dog

⭐️ 5 reasons you and your dog are a great team

Go big, go small and list every reason in between. Often handlers struggle to see the “evidence” that they’ll be successful in reaching their goals, training this dog or being the type of handler their dog deserves. It’s much easier for your mind to focus on what you’re lacking, rather than acknowledging how far you’ve come and all you’ve gained so far.

This listing activity helps you build evidence that you, your dog and your team are worth believing in. This exercise should be done daily or weekly to gain the most benefit.

2. Set Process Goals

If you’re struggling to see your teams progress or don’t feel that you’re getting results you want, this drill is for you. A goal can be “results oriented” or “process oriented”. Results are often out of our control; someone else can have a better performance, the judge makes a bad call or the weather just fucks up everything. For this reason of uncontrollability, results oriented goals can cause more frustration than inspiration.

A process goal focuses on actions or tasks within your control that you can always succeed at completing as long as you put in the effort. A process goal is trackable task that you do daily or at every competition that benefits your performance and your dogs performance.

For example…

⭐️ “This week I will reward my dog’s sit stay behavior 5x per day.”

⭐️ “I will play with my dog for 5 minutes after every run regardless of how the run went.”

⭐️ “This week I will train and reward my dog’s weaves in three different locations.”

Now, actually check off that you complete this goal each week, day or every run of the weekend.

Kathleen Oswald

Written by

Kathleen Oswald

Mental Performance Coach and long time agility competitor with a M.S. Exercise and Sport Science