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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Our Biggest Obstacle

The biggest obstacle between a mediocre run and an awesome run, unfortunately is . . . me.  Why does it seem so much easier to train the dogs than it is to train me.  Although I have much to learn, and I am still very green when it comes to competing,  I think that I am a decent handler.  I have a desire to learn and to be better.  However, the biggest obstacle that I need to overcome is - ring nerves.  Ring nerves suck!  They sap all the energy out of both me and my dogs.

-verb (used with object)
definition - to gain a victory over; surmount; master; overcome:  to conquer ring nerves

Ring nerves are the biggest obstacle that I need to conquer before I can compete with any great success.

Bosley can't do the dogwalk.  Why?  Because I am terrified he will fall off and get hurt.

Maggie tears up the agility course in practice, but is as slow as molasses in trials.   Why? Because I get nervous.

Maggie has great weave poles, but in a trial she pops poles and goes very slow.  Why?  Because I worry she will pop poles and be slow.

Maggie has a bad case of "coming home syndrome" at a trial, where suddenly in the last third of the course she runs as fast as can.  Why?  Because I am glad we are almost done and I start to relax.

Don't even get me started about obedience trials.  I always say that Maggie has obedience ring nerves, but that is because she gets it from me.

My poor dogs!  They don't even have a chance :(

The weird thing is that I like to go to trials and compete.  My nerves are getting better (really), but I really need to work at being more confident and less nervous at trials.  I know, I know . . . what's the worst that can happen?  Logically, my brain tells me that it is just a trial and that if we NQ, it is not a big deal.  I have NQ'd plenty of times and the sky doesn't fall.  No one even cares. The dogs don't care and I know there will be plenty more trials to enter.  So what is the big deal?  I wish I knew.  Ring nerves suck!


  1. Kim, I used to have the WORST ring nerves, really. I would take a zantac each AM just so i wouldn't be running to the bathroom every 5 minutes, now I only take them at Regionals or Nats :))

    I keep a set of notes about ring nerves with me in my training/trial book - remind me on Tuesday and you can make copies of it, it really helps me to read it when I feel like that.

    The biggest thing is to trust your training, and do the best you can for YOUR dogs ... and by the way you are more than a decent handler.

  2. I have no experience in the ring, but it sounds like it can be nerve racking.

    I bet the more you do it the easier it will get. Your pups know what to do so just follow their lead and relax.

    Lots of Luv & Kisses
    Addie and Lucie

  3. oh how I hate competeing!! I'm with you, ring nerves suck!!

  4. I used to have those dumb ring nerves but after a while I told myself, "OH, STOP IT! You're just going to ruin everything so just stay calm & go with the flow." And after that, I was no more nervous till this day. Infact, I now have this "no-big-deal-if-we-don't-pass/win-because-we-can-try-again-another-time" attitude & actually it's not making things any better. I don't even practice or go through some exercises with my dogs a week before the trials. I just do it last minute on the very same day. But sometimes they Q & sometimes they don't but I don't make a big deal out of it. If you want to succeed, you have to fail a few times 1st. That's just how it is. Just tell yourself, there's no point being nervous because you'll just pass it to your dogs. But you see, if you're nervous, it shows that you care. You care because you want to qualify. If you have my kind of attitude, it's just all wrong. LOL!


  5. This is my experience with ring nerves. I had a sheltie that I was worried about him running off. He was a rescue and didnt like to come to people. Even now, 4 years later he is slow to come to me. I didnt realize how much this was affecting my trialing with him. I would feel sick to my stomach. Now I have my new sheltie and I still get a tiny bit nervous but nothing like I use to. It wasnt until I ran my new dog that I realize how worried I was about him ( the old dog)not coming to me when called and how it was affecting me in the ring. It had nothing to do with getting "Q"s . But I do think worrying about things can really intensify ring nerves. Sorry I dont have any good advice on how to stop worrying. Diana