Own It

In a bunch of my agility lessons lately my students and I have been talking about the concept of ‘owning it.’

Walking to the line with confidence.

Showing their dog where they’d like them to be with confidence.

Asking for trained responses with confidence.

Believing in their dog, their training, themselves.

Saying fears, concerns, worries out loud with confidence and no judgment.

Voicing what they know and what they don’t know with confidence.

Telling their dog they love them with confidence.

Noticing the challenges they are having or their dog is having without judgment.

Owning their successes and their mistakes.

Owning their role in the team with their dog.

Owning it includes recognizing they have the power to create self fulfilling prophecies, both ones they would be proud to have occur and ones they feel fear, embarrassment and shame around.

Owning it can be hard.  Really hard.  We all come with baggage.  Maybe it’s insecurities due to behaviors with previous dogs.  Maybe it’s fear of what others will say about you or your dog.  Maybe it’s overlooking holes in your education or training.  Maybe it’s a habit to blame the dog.  Maybe it’s a tendency to want perfection.  Maybe it’s a habit to give up or walk away when things feel overwhelming.  Maybe it’s fear of failure.  Maybe it’s lack of trust in your dog.  Maybe it’s lack of trust in yourself.  Maybe it’s fear of getting hurt.  Maybe it’s fear of someone else getting hurt.  The list can be endless.

It can be really hard to voice those things out loud.  To yourself.  To your dog.  To say them without value judgments.  Or to recognize when the judgments creep in.  To not try to explain them away.  To own them as things that are.  As things that are part of who you are right now and that’s ok.

Insecurities, fear, worry can cause us to act really oddly towards our dogs.  They don’t understand why you act like your normal self in one setting then become this scary strange stressed out monster in another setting.  They try to figure us out.  They seek out patterns or disengage or get closer or get silly or do any manner of things.

Sometimes the temporary (or maybe even permanent) solution to owning it is the old fake it till you make it.  You don’t feel confident walking to the line?  Fake it.  Remember how many thousands of times you’ve practiced this during training sessions.  Remember the how many thousands of times it’s gone well.  Remember you have strategies you and your dog have practiced to prepare for this.  Remember the worst that could happen is probably not injury or death (you will not die from embarrassment, remember that).  Breathe.  Look at your dog.  Smile.  Tell them you love them.  Say, “We ARE Awesome!”  be sure to include the exclamation point!  Say it with feeling.  “We are awesome damn it!”  Step off with confidence.  Own it.

When we act consistently.  When we own our own shit.  When we recognize behavior and patterns without judgment.  When we create consistency, trust, clarity, confidence in our cues, patterns, relationship with our dog everything gets better.  Everything.

Zora and I at the line, her sitting with me removing the leash at our very first agility trial.  All manner of worries and unknowns, I sure had to ‘fake it till I made it’ those first few runs!


0 thoughts on “Own It

  1. You have no idea how timely and spot on this post is for me and my dog Walter. I’ve had dogs for decades. Most of them have been well-behaved, even if they weren’t schooled as show or agility dogs. Walter is a different story. He’s willful, stubborn, difficult and unyielding. I’ve tried everything trick I’ve ever learned but he is immune.
    We’ve signed up for obedience training. I have been dreading going there and have a 150# Dane drag me across the room. I can just see the instructor’s face in disbelief. I’ve warned her. But now that I’ve read this, I think I’m going to do the “own it” thing. Hey, I have another Dane who is trained well and listens intently, so I know it’s not just me. I just have to learn how to deal with Walter’s specific personality. Anyhow, sorry for the long comment, but I wanted to let you know that this post made a difference for me. A big one.

    1. I’m so happy to hear this resonated, thank you! Walter sounds like a fun challenging dog. I hope you have a good experience at training class. And don’t worry, if the trainer has been doing her/his job for any length of time, I can nearly guarantee they have met many “Walters”, you aren’t alone in your struggles. It can really push us when a dog comes into our lives that has such a different and unique personality than our past experience with dogs has taught us. But growth is a good thing and both Walter and any future dog in your life will benefit from your new experience. I wish you both all the best :-). Thank you again for your comment, I really appreciate it!

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