cramming & anxiety

Shape up Dogs seminar begins tomorrow. Advanced class. Lumen. I feel like the last 2 weeks have been cramming for an exam. Like I’ve tried to practise ALL TEH WEAVE ENTRIES and ALL THE THREADLES and ALL TE BACKSIDE BARS and I still feel so underprepared. My brain keeps telling me that if only Loki was older I’d be less anxious but of course that’s not true because he can’t do half this stuff yet either.

And it’s not like we could have gone in the Foundations class cos we’ve done 1,000 Foundations but I’m filled with this deep sense of anxiety that they’re going to throw something at us that we can’t do and then be all like: ‘sigh, maybe you should have done foundations’ and some of the people there working with their dogs will be all: ‘snigger, and she thinks she can hold classes?! look at her poorly trained dog’, and meanwhile there’ll be some hard exit off the dogwalk and she won’t be able to weave and I’ll have to do our awkward version of a threadle because we just haven’t had enough healthy time in which to practise.

Which I’m sure they’ll understand but it doesn’t stop me feeling like my dog isn’t ready, that we’re not going to be able to do what we need to do and that it’s just going to be frustrating. I do want to go and have fun and learn stuff to help my handling… but there’s all these niggling thoughts in my mind, and then I go spend $60 on different varieties of tempting foods for Lu in the hope that I can keep her motivated enough to do a halfway decent job during 3 days of running on sand.

Which of course is just another thing to add to the ‘you’re not good enough’ list of things.

At school, we have kids who are ASD (Autism spectrum disorder) and as such, they can get really anxious when there are going to be different or special days at school, so we write them a “social story”. Mine would read something like this:
This weekend is going to be different.

You will be going to a seminar with some great trainers.

Some things will be tricky, and some things will be easy.

Lu will not do everything perfectly, but she will try.

It will be different and out of your comfort zone but you will be ok.

You can celebrate every attempt with Lu and have fun learning different handling moves.

It will be a go with the flow kind of weekend.

You will be ok.

And now I read that over and over again.


5 thoughts on “cramming & anxiety

  1. Hope you’re having fun and learning a lot!! If they are good teachers they will not judge based on any shortcomings but rather be happy to be given an opportunity to help teach you how you might be able to improve in those areas, that is the reason their “job” is secure with students bothering to attend in the first place 😉

  2. Also, I struggle with anxiety in the same kinds of scenarios but personally discovered I handle it best diving in head first by giving my all (allowing for any major flub ups/embarrassing moments along the way) *before* anyone has had a chance to decide I must be good or something based on what they might’ve seen/heard. They can see my raw handling/training errors, not expect anything more, and then that only leaves me with the opportunity to surprise them with building a better and better image as I discover my skills/advantages. And personally, I find rather than judging someone who might seem “unprepared” that I am rather just thankful it’s not me!! But I bet you’ll be just fine and actually discover you have a lot more skills/abilities than you give yourself credit for… usually the toughest critic is ourself, don’t worry yourself about what others might be thinking!! 🙂 Have fun and I hope you’re planning on sharing what topics you cover! 😀

    • Em says:

      Thanks for your comments Alice. I tend to not worry a lot about what people think of me except when it comes to agility, of course 😉
      I’ll definitely share what we’ve been learning and some reflections on the seminar in general. I think the most interesting thing so far has been Lu’s ability to surprise me with what she can do. Yesterday we were working on threadle-rear crosses and she could actually do them pretty well considering we’ve never done them before! And I’ve actually seen her turn right a few times (and not tight a few times) so it’ll be really interesting to watch the video and see what scenarios she finds easy and what she finds hard and/or what I’m doing differently to either help her prepare to turn or not. There’s so many variables of course (speed, angle, my cues, where I’m going next, etc) but if I can narrow it down a bit I might be able to generalise those scenarios to make all turns easier for her to read. And the other thing that has surprised me is how on the 1st day she was SO flat and I was despairing- 3 days of a dog who hates agility, great! And by the afternoon she was happier and yesterday morning she was almost back to ‘at home’ training speed (still slower than comp speed). So I don’t know yet what the trick is with her or whether she needs that morning to ‘find her groove’ or what. It’ll be interesting to see how she’s working today on the 3rd day! Anyway enough rambling, I’ll save it all for a post when I get home 😉

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