As you may know from my post about nose work last week, I sent my mom to a mental management seminar with Teah and Chuck Anders, certified trainers. Trust me, it was necessary! Mom learned a lot about mental management in our sports, but also how it really can be applied in everyday life. Saturday was a full day of classroom, and Sunday was a half day of hands on training.
One thing about my mom, she has a very strong mind, and she is excellent at mental management, BUT she is not a team person. She has always participated in sports like running, golf, singles tennis, etc., because she doesn’t want to rely on others for success, or be disappointed by others for ruining her success. Now that she has taken up dog sports with Bailie and me, the team aspect has been hard for her to deal with. The mental management seminar was just what she needed to understand how to manage her mind in a team with a dog.
Our sports of nose work and tracking make mental management even more difficult. We are a team in sports where the human is really at the mercy of the dog. Sure the human can provide some support and guidance but ultimately, finding the hide or the articles on a track is something only the dog can do. Dealing with this part has been the tough thing for Mom to handle in our competitions.
What is mental management all about? What did Mom learn? Will it help us as a team in the future?
Teah and Chuck did a great job of covering the process of mental management. The seminar was really aimed at dog sports, but can be applied life in general. I won’t go into specifics as I’m not qualified to teach the subject but I want to share some of the things that really clicked for my mom. Mental management in a nutshell is really a three step process. There is before the actual action starts, during the action, and after the action is completed. My mom had many of the steps in these areas down already, but she didn’t know how to use them in the team environment.
What were the biggest “ah ha” moments Mom took away from the weekend?
The top concept was the conscious and subconscious mindsets. This is easiest understood by thinking of riding a bike. When you learn, you have to consciously think about every move you make to keep from falling over (conscious mind). In time, riding a bike is second nature, you simply do it without thinking (subconscious mind). Once you ride in a subconscious state, what happens when conscious tries to chime in? Most likely the bike crashes because it interferes with a smooth running process. The same can be transferred to our nose work. For example, in my first NW3 search, Mom was confident, let me do the work, helped me check the last two cars, and we were successful, because Mom was mainly in her subconscious mind for the search. I did the work, she followed and trusted me as we do all the time in practice. Why did we fail the rest of the day? After realizing she had forgotten to reward me after my finds, her mindset went out the window, and she spent most of the next searches in a conscious mind which caused many mistakes.
The mental reset is the second important thing Mom learned about. After realizing her error in not rewarding me for my finds in the first search, Mom lost her confidence, and her ability to regain a positive mindset. The seminar explained clearly the importance of a mind reset, how to play positive “movies” in your mind after something goes wrong, so you can get right back to success. No matter what you do, whether you are successful or not, always try to have a positive mindset. We dogs are excellent at reading our handlers, and we know when they are calm vs. when they are a basket case, so it is important to have the mental management correctly in place. My mom’s weird behavior caused my behavior to also change resulting in a poor performance, but we did learn a lot from it nevertheless.
Mom took Bailie to the hands on training because she has had a tough time understanding and trusting Bailie. Mom and I work very well together, and have a similar working style, but Bailie is different. The video is of an interior search where Mom had all three components of mental management in place. There where three hides to find in two minutes, it was a blind search (handler does not know the hide location), and off leash. Note how Mom is in the search, but she is letting Bailie work, and she is trusting her. See how well Bailie did! She found the first hide in just eleven seconds, and then found the next two hides. Bailie did get off track to sniff a person, and later the floor because she thought she lost a treat, but with a bit of help from Mom, she was back on track. Both Mom and Bailie left the search feeling good. The subconscious mind allowed Mom to let Bailie do her job without pressure or stress, and after the search she had the positive “film” in her mind.
If you are in dog sports of any kind, you really should attend a mental management seminar as it will definitely help you become more in tune to your dog, be relaxed in your sport, have more fun, and be more successful overall. A positive mindset is good for all areas of your life. You can see, Bailie is very appreciative of the help the seminar has given Mom! Now we are looking forward to my two elements trials on June 4th and 5th, to see if Mom’s new strategy helps Team Emma!
On a side note, don’t forget to enter to win one case of Bravo Canine Cafe Dinners. The giveaway ends Monday night!