Ya know, you are allowed to rest 😮‍💨

dog care goals Jun 15, 2021

Over in the Q-Membership this month, we are talking about the impact our energy has on our dogs and our performance. One of the first things that came up was the “energy of chasing,” or the concept that we are always chasing after something. Titles, Qs, big events … you name it, we are going after it.

On the one hand, this is fabulous! Motivation drives us forward and gets us to grab that cheese stick and train, if only for five minutes. Goals have this wonderful gravitational pull, and when we fully commit, great things happen.

On the other hand, we can start to feel like it’s never “enough.” Like we need to enter every weekend, do all the things all the time. Our dogs feel this energy, too. Yes, our dogs like to work, but what is the energy we are putting out surrounding our activities?

Borrowing from the horses

As you surely know by now, I rode horses as a kid, and one of the things we always did was give the horses a LOT of time off. We are talking a month, or more just turned out on a field to be a horse and rest. It wasn’t random; rather, it was scheduled after big pushes or at the end of the season. Body and soul were renewed. As a result, they were mentally and physically “ready” to come back when they came back to work.

We also didn’t train the horses much between shows, again, giving them time to recover. Then, when I got into dogs, I saw that there were hardly any breaks. Dogs would compete on Sunday then be in class Monday night. Sure, sometimes it’s a scheduling challenge, but it just seemed like dogs were constantly training.

My Novice A dog also taught me about having a Berner (aka double-coated breed) in the summer in Virginia. Our classes are in a posh, air-conditioned building, but heat and humidity outside make it hard to recover fully. I soon put two-and-two together and thought, “Huh, maybe I give my dog the summer off.”

Everybody in the pool

Back then, with only one dog and fewer goals, it was mentally easier to back away from competition and classes for a couple of months. We went camping, took to the water, and explored Shenandoah National Park. He kept fit - no sitting on the couch for us - but the repetitive motions of agility, for instance, were given a break.

Trust me, I’m NOT advocating for putting your dog on a shelf!

Today, I’m having a more challenging time stepping back - I admit it. I have an older dog with all the pressures that time brings and two dogs who should be in their prime but lost a good year of training between our time in Colorado and the charming pandemic. Pressure is nipping at my heels.

Perhaps Mother Nature saw my woes and delivered this recent heatwave to the Northeast (LOL). 90* days have dampened my will to even enter online from my couch. And recently, I found a perfect swimming location for the dogs, though it’s a solid hour’s drive. Said another way, I’m letting these “forces” decide for me that it’s time for a break.

Forming a new plan

Based on experience, I know my dogs will return happier and more driven to work - I have evidence of this. So I’m using this time to put together our plan for the second half of the year. And truthfully, I want it to be packed - LOL. But having learned all these lessons, as I look at my calendar, I’m also scheduling breaks - for them and me. I’m also changing what classes I take and shifting priorities.

Taking a break also provides the time and space to think, plan, and regroup.

So if you need “permission” to take a break, I’m giving it to you. Maybe summer is your go-all-out time, and that’s great! Go!! Just plan to rest BEFORE you or your dogs get burned out or, worse, injured.

Meanwhile, if you’re ready to plan for a stellar second half of the year, I’ve decided to run a goals workshop over in the Goal Setting Studio for Dog Handlers on Facebook. It’s free, and there’s also TONS of juicy content already in there from past workshops (Check out the video library!).

Meanwhile, plan to do something fun with your dogs this week!

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