Build a Post-Trials Routine!
Building a Post-Trials Routine, what do you mean? In my previous article on Pre-Trials Routine, we have discussed on the following, now we focus on the Post-Trials Routine.
Below are the trail of events or activities after the Competition.
The Warm Down
The warm down segment is necessary regardless of your Dog Sports Discipline, be it Competitive Dog Obedience or Dog Agility Competition. In the context of Competitive Dog Obedience, warm down segment gives you the opportunity to prepare your dog for any runoff event. Especially, when the competition is tight, we will have dogs with tied position, a run-off exercise is a fair way to differentiate the better-performed dog from the other.
Whereas in Dog Agility Competition, we use the warm down segment to warm down our dogs physically and mentally. A properly warm down dog will be in better shape for the next competition.
Reconnect with the Fun
Reconnect with the fun. This is a vital step in my opinion as I want my dog to know how well he has done and how appreciative I am for the performance he has put forward.
To Me, this is also an appreciation time for me to show how supportive I am, regardless of the results. If you compete regular, you will see handlers just stuff their dogs into their crate and start engaging with their anxious activity, leaving his dog, thinking how bad he must have done to get such low or no attention from the handlers.
This is the reinforcement opportunity, I’m not talking about mark and pay your dog here, but by giving the crave food is a vital and critical reinforcement.
After receiving the news on the results, trophies, ribbons and dog’s food prizes, it’s time to head home. The winding down process is the most unheard of. No one will even take notice of the winding down period.
Don’t forget we still have our dog with us. The winding down period is where unpacking, dismantling, tearing down time. Loads of NOISE, LOUD SOUND, MOVEMENT, TRUCKS zooming in & out etc. A lot of activity happening at the same time for a good 1-2 hours period.
I am always careful as I don’t want my dog to think, I’m leaving him behind where he might be engulfed by the LOUD NOISES, SOUND, ENVIRONMENT etc.
In order to avoid such predicament, I would suggest you move your dog as a priority to your Vehicle. At least the safety and comfort of your car will help to ease the tension and anxiety from our dog. After your dog is properly loaded up into your car, you can proceed to collect your belongings. It might be troublesome, but for the sake of your dog, I think it’s our responsibility of the owners to ensure their dog is always in safe hands. If you think about it, it wasn’t the idea of your dog to participate in Dog Competitions or Trials.
The Journey home
The journey home hopefully is smooth and non-eventful. Have a safe car ride. Maybe it doesn’t apply to us travelling in Singapore. But for those trialling oversea, your car journey back might be long. Plan for pit-stops. Always ensure your dog’s safety at pit-stops.
Follow up the training routine
It’s always back to the drawing board after every trial and/or competitions. Reflect on what’s we are doing GREAT as a team and REPLICATE it.
If there are areas that we are not doing good, let’s look at the root of the problems.
Does my dog understand what’s required of him?
Am I expecting too much at the moment?
If I have an issue, can I break down the exercises to smaller segments to conquer it?
Am I marking or clicking the REWARD ZONE appropriately?
Are my rewards use motivating to my dog?
Am I rewarding too wide a gap or time and space?
The Rule of thumb, continue to work on what good your dog has been performing. Keep the Winning Spirit. Then you can work on your problem areas. Go back to the basics, work on the objective of the exercise.
The Winner Mindset is practice, practice, practice and still practice. Build a strong reinforcement history so that your dog can depend on the passing success to build towards greater achievem