Monday, 23 January 2017

Deep practice and dog training - what does yours look like?

Brrrrrr! Cold and frosty this morning which in my house means over excited colllies galore in the garden. Freya who refuses to walk through mud suddenly can't wait to roll upside down on the icy grass - that's a heck of a cold shower for first thing in the morning!

However the frost does mean there will be less mud on our training run this afternoon - hooray. I'm having to include deliberately muddy runs in my schedule right now so that my knees are getting enough practice coping with the extra twists and rotations as I slide around. My weekly goal of a minimum three runs per week is good enough to get the habit in place, and lets me track my actions BUT it doesn't necessarily include the specific practice that I need.

Which is mostly linked into a fantastic book I've been reading this week - "The Talent Code: greatness isn't born. It's grown" by Daniel Coyle. I'd definitely recommend it for general interest, but I've really enjoyed thinking about how it applies to my running (with dogs) and training my girls more generally. The super condensed version is that fundamentally talent is more about how we practice a skill than being born with it. 
Thank goodness!

Deep practice can super charge our performance, and that means frequent sessions concentrating on small details, repeatedly. This includes getting it wrong often but comparing what we did to our ultimate goal. It's easier to think about this in relation to learning a piece of music
  • practice a - repeatedly play a piece of music, not stopping for mistakes but just trying to complete the exercise
  • deep practice - listening to the piece played by a professional, then working through each phrase pausing when you make mistakes, reminding yourself of the correct phrasing and then trying again, and again, and again....
When you're working on a new skill with your dog, how do you structure your training sessions?

In our TD Rally Progressions and our Agility classes we're concentrating on the small movements that make up the stations/exercises rather than setting out full courses that encourage people to focus on completion at the cost of accuracy. Right now in our Friday TD Rally class we're doing lots of "hind end awareness" and testing our dog's understanding of the heel position. The process of careful repetition, and learning from mistakes is what creates amazing learning (and highly myelinated connections in the brain).

Think about what you do....and what you're asking your dog to do!

Have an amazing frosty week


PS You can find out more about TD Rally here:

PPS We'll be announcing a new venue soon for our Agility and TD Rally classes on a Monday evening, make sure you join our FaceBook group to get priority notice. http://

Monday, 16 January 2017

Why do most people fail to achieve their goals?

Why do most people fail to achieve their goals?

Last week quite a few people replied to my weekly email to tell me what they did over the weekend, and what their goals were for 2017. There are some seriously exciting plans in your heads and I love it!

But the thing is, everyone is good at setting goals but we're mostly pretty rubbish at achieving them. Why? Well one reason is about how we set and monitor our goals.

For example, say you set a goal of running a canicross race with your dog by the end of 2017...
  1. that's a long way off, so you can easily delay taking action until it's too late
  2. the goal doesn't tell you how you're going to achieve it, how long is the race and so on
  3. you probably aren't recording the actions you're taking to get to that goal
Improved version:
  1. I'm going to follow a couch/pooch to 5k training plan
  2. I'm starting on 18th Jan 2017
  3. I will do the walk/run sessions 4 times per week
  4. I'm logging my exercise sessions in a diary and planning my weekly rewards
  5. Goal event: Parkrun April 2017
Your turn!
  •  What canine related goal have you set - how specific have you gotten with defining the goal?
  • How will you achieve the goal?
  • Daily actions you can take?
  • How will you monitor those actions? Do you need an accountability buddy?

Have an amazing week!


PS   Passion Planner  Several of you emailed to ask about my planner - I fell in love with this style three years ago. It gives me space to think and encourages accountability.   
(If you decide to grab one for yourself, please do mention me as a referral

PPS Do remember to make use of our WCC Facebook group to share your goals, action plans and check in on your progress. I've been using something I call #TakingActionTuesday as a mental reminder to make sure I'm taking action to get me closer to my big ideas.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

What did you do with your dog last weekend?

It's Monday! I know that doesn't always fill us (or our dogs) with glee, but it's nice to pause and think about what we did over the weekend too. Did you take some time out? get to spend quality time with your dogs and family?

Sian asked all of us at Well Connected Canine what our New Year dog-related resolutions were. Even though we don't really do resolutions it's good to set goals and create new habits. One of mine was to spend more time grooming my three collie girls (great bonding time, and might reduce the amount of hoovering I do!).

One of my personal goals is based on a 1000 mile challenge from 2016. A walking magazine challenged readers to walk 1000 miles in a year - we took up that challenge and logged our weekly mileage on a spreadsheet. This year my challenge is 1500 miles in a year, which has benefits for the girlies as they are getting slightly longer walks even on my really busy days.

So - my weekend included a new walk in the North York Moors (9.3miles), grooming for all three girlies and an easy 3 mile run. We're all feeling better as a result, and MOST importantly I've logged all these things into my big paper planner diary so I can track my progress!

What did you do this weekend with your dogs? Did you set some goals at the beginning of the year, and are you monitoring your progress and actions? Changing habits is hard for all of us, but we can totally do it together.

All good wishes

PS I sent this out as an email to our mailing list and was delighted by some of the replies! Most importantly it seems this message has given a few folk a much wanted nudge in the right direction, and I'll be following up to see how you're getting on with those goals...

PPS come post your goals, action plans and ideas on FB with us - we promise to support you!  WCC FB page