Have your ever had one of those training sessions where nothing goes right? When your dog is wired and won’t listen to a thing you say? Or when they seem to lack joy and plod politely but unenthusiastically through the session?
You wonder, “what is up with them today?”
As Gamechangers, we are always mindful of our dog’s energy level. You check back over their week. Has something filled their bucket? Have they not had sufficient time spent in calmness? Is their optimism level needing topped up?
But what if…just what if…the problem is…you?
What if your own energetic state is sabotaging your training?
Managing those buckets
We Gamechangers are very familiar with the concept of arousal management. We work hard to actively manage our dog’s arousal level, knowing when to cultivate calm and when to bring the energy up. But how many of us actively practice energy management on ourselves?
Being aware of your own energetic state is vital to peak performance. Failure to properly manage your energy levels can have serious consequences for your abilities as a trainer and for your performance as a team with your dog.
No dog wants to work with a trainer who is fried. Likewise, if your energetic state is low, you will struggle to motivate your dog.
Unfortunately our dogs tend to pick up on our energetic state better and much faster than we do and often the first sign that something is amiss with your energy is when things start going awry with your training.
Keeping on keeping on
In our fast paced world of hectic schedules, commitments, and caffeine, listening to our bodies and minds and being considerate of our energy level is becoming something of a lost art.
We want to stick to the schedule as we are diligent and have things to get done! Things we want to achieve! Heights we want to reach! A competition on the horizon that we want to ace! But just like our dogs, we are subject to natural ebbs and flows of energy.
Turning the dial
Is energetic state something we are stuck with? If we find ourselves overexcited and overwhelmed, are we doomed to be so until it passes? Must we sit with low and flat, waiting to feel uplifted?
Energetic state is totally changeable. The key is knowing what works for you. Learn how to monitor your own energetic state and how to change it.
Feeling the force
Take a moment to check in with yourself. Really listen to your body. How does it feel? Sore? Strong? Tired? Rested?
How does you mind feel? Alert? Raring to go? Quiet? Scattered?
What emotions are you experiencing? Happiness? Excitement? Sadness?
Don’t judge what your body and mind tell you, just note it.
Make it a habit to check in with yourself frequently throughout the day. Show the same consideration to yourself as you would a much-loved friend.
The Change Your Energy Toolbox
So you’ve checked in and your energy barometer is feeling a little low. What can you do?
Here are our top three ways to bring your energy UP!
Move – just getting up from your desk and walking around a few times per day can make a massive difference to your energy levels. Sitting makes us tired. Our bodies literally slump into our chairs. Get up, move around and feel the difference.
Have fun – do something new. The brain is primed to react to novelty and will perk up at the signs of something new. Novelty triggers focus and concentration so try something different, train somewhere new, train with music on, shake it up.
Play games – playing games is a brilliant way to boost your energy. That’s why games based concept training rocks – it is brilliant for the energy of the trainer. It takes the pressure off and gets you in a great place to work with your dog, and your dog feels that!
Ready to bring that energy up? Check out our free Leash Off Game On DVD (you can grab a copy here) for ten top games that will get you moving, playing and having amazing fun with your dog.
Energy feeling a bit fizzy? Here are three ways to chill you out:
Calmness – really take time to find out what helps you to empty that bucket. For some a long walk in nature will do the trick, for others a long, relaxing bath. If you don’t have time for a lengthy de-stressing session, simply take a few deep breaths. Really breathe in deeply and feel yourself becoming grounded as your mind calms.
And always, always, always make getting enough sleep a priority! It really does help massively with calmness.
Focus – in a world where divided attention is prized and actively cultivated, our ability to focus is constantly challenged. But focus is the concept of champions. Without focus, nothing can be achieved. Without focus, we scatter our attention and our brain struggles to collect the pieces, jumping around in an endless dance of fleeting attention.
If you are feeling fried, pick one task and focus on it until it is complete. Giving yourself permission to focus on one thing until it is done frees up your mind to get to work. If you really struggle with ignoring the other tasks, write them down on a piece of paper – they will still be there when you finish this task. You will get a boost from completion of the task that will carry you through to the next task, and you will feel the satisfaction of successful completion of a task that is super settling for the mind.
Self control – this is a super power in energy management. Self control is the ability to delay gratification, to make good choices and to value yourself and what you are trying to achieve. Having self control in your Change Your Energy Toolbox will enable you to shut out the clamour of life and instant reward to put your ultimate self first.
Impulse control training pays off here. Really want a burger? Do your work out first. Frustrated by the person taking too long in the queue in front of you? Think of five things you have to be grateful for. Practice impulse control as you go about your day and you will find it becomes second nature and a force to be reckoned with in your Change Your Energy Toolbox.
Not just for revving you up, games can play a massive part in helping to moderate your energy if chilling out is what you need. Check out our Boundaries DVD here for games that will rock your team’s calmness, focus and impulse control.
And if you really are not feeling it?
Just don’t do it. Training or competing when your energetic state isn’t right just isn’t a great idea. If you’ve done all you can to shake it out and shake it up and you still feel that your energy isn’t where it needs to be, sit it out.
Forgo the training session, miss the competition. It is a tough call to make when we are so invested in our training, or when we’ve paid a fortune in competition entry fees, but really, the best thing you can do in that situation is to sit it out. Always be kind to yourself.
It is ok to say no – to more tasks, to added responsibilities, to training when your head just isn’t in the right place.
It is ok to do less than the maximum.
It is ok to do less than everyone else is doing.
It is ok to do what feels right to you.
Put yourself first. Your overall performance as a trainer will benefit from it.
Changing your energy: your secret superpower
In a world where listening to our bodies and minds isn’t encouraged as a priority, being mindful of your energetic state and knowing how and when to change it is a secret superpower. It will pay massive dividends to your training. You’ll be a better training partner for your dog. You will see better results from your training and in competition.
So stock up your Change Your Energy Toolbox and get ready to rock your energy levels. You will feel better, more able to cope with anything that comes your way. And you will have a lot of fun doing it.