What Exactly Should You Visualize? – Bad Dog Agility Academy

What Exactly Should You Visualize?

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  • magysagility@aol.com says:

    Thank you for this lesson. My dog has NQ either from the judge walking behind us or when weaving into a line of a ring crew sitting 40’ away. Visualization is beyond the course.

  • Barbara Lewis says:

    It just struck me that visualization was integral to learning combinations, but perhaps in a different way and it evolved into actual movement (eyes open and sometimes attenuated movement, sometimes the entire combination and checking out how it all looks , of course, use of the ever present mirror is a wonderful aid. Now I must try to translate that into dog agility

    • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

      I think you have the right idea! Everyone develops their own routine, you have plenty of chances to experiment and find what works best for you.

  • Barbara Lewis says:

    What posture for handler during visualization? Or any that is comfortable?

    • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

      Any posture that’s comfortable, most handlers do it while standing ringside so they can look at the equipment. Other handlers close their eyes.

  • airegility@yahoo.com says:

    What would the difference between visualization and memorization be? Often times I will walk the course 5-6 times, then stand back and think…dog walk to tunnel, blind cross, jump, jump, teeter front cross etc. Then while getting ready to run I often go over it again. Should I be doing more?

    • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

      When you memorize, you might picture the obstacles or the course, but with visualization you are imagining both you and your dog actually running the course, and since this is more similar to what you will be doing, it’s usually a more effective review. If you’re having success using memorization of the obstacles only (without picturing the dog), then I would continue that. You can also try it both ways and compare your results.

  • Sylvia Brown says:

    I’m hoping that visualisation can help me. I spend a long time walking the courses, but I keep letting my amazing Sheltie down by getting lost in the ring SYLVIA B

    • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

      It will definitely help you, and the more you use it, the better you will get. Eventually, you will reach the point where you don’t even need to walk a course to run it clean.

  • Ann says:

    There seems to be a lot to visualize and I am wondering whether you have an order of priority or clump them all together? Things to visualize IMO: course itself, dogs line, handlers line, timing, handling options, maintaining connection (eye contact etc.)…

    • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

      It should be holistic (taken all together) but also sequential, in a specific order. I don’t consider abstract concepts like handler or dog lines, or “timing” or handling options. I visualize the physical things I will do. Stand here, say this now, run here along this path, stop here, turn this way, switch to this arm, look at me dog after the tunnel, etc. The routine should be very concrete and not filled with statements or thoughts like “be positive” or “connect with my dog” etc. Does this make sense?

  • tlburrows65@gmail.com says:

    The decision tree is a great idea. Visualization and muscle memory have been a part of my showing horses for a long time. I am finding it is essential particularly with my fast dog!

  • Margo Maruncic says:

    I really like the tree idea. Sometimes we expect perfection and don’t consider alternative runs

  • Yolanda Phillips says:

    I get it. You are a mind reader.
    I’ve thought those thoughts many times. I like the tree idea. I see how knowing your next move according to your dog’s action keeps you focused on your plan.

  • Nhall0663 says:

    I have used visualization and it is effective, but it does have to be practiced. I find that the more I practice the easier it is to visualize at events. I try to practice visualization in my training. As I make my training plan, I try visualizing what I want to see; it enables me to have a solid plan and immediately reward the correct performance, even if it is just practicing verbals.

    • Sarah Fernandezlopez says:

      Absolutely. Too many people add visualization to their routine only when they feel nervous. But this is something to be practiced at local trials, and as you point out, even in practice. Too often we practice in a relaxed state and then everything feels so different when a little pressure and adrenaline is added.

  • Eveline De Graeve says:

    As a non-native English speaker I don’t get the meaning of …….should be well practiced and comfortable with the technique before “your that”. Is there a word missing?

    • Sarah Fernandezlopez says:

      Thank you! Yes, there is a typo there. I think it should simply be: “ You should not be trying to use visualization for the first time at a big event—you should be well practiced and comfortable with the technique before that.”

      I am confirming with Esteban how he wants that worded. But let me rephrase the concept: you should practice visualization at local trials and incorporate it into your routine. You will not get as good results if you only visualize at big events.

  • Tess Bayly says:

    I like the idea of the decision tree. Planning my action for each scenario however is this not also a distraction, taking me away from the positive visualization?

    • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

      Positive visualization is really positive self-talk, a way to make yourself feel better about something. Visualization is quite different–here you focus on a specific action you must take, whether you’re tired or hungry or nervous. In this sense, visualization is not positive or negative, it’s just the thing that you must do to rehearse your run, and considering multiple possibilities (the decision tree) is part of that. If your tree gets too many branches though, the visualization can be less effective as you introduce too much conscious thought into a run that is built on reacting to certain triggers (front cross after weaves, blind cross before triple, etc). If your tree is getting too big, you need to make some decisions and stick with those, and if they turn out to be wrong, it’s ok because you’ll know for next time. With experience, your plans get better and better.

  • rmcgrath says:

    How realistic are you in visualization? For example, my dog is slow in her weaves away from home. Should I visualize the ideal, the fast weaves I know she can do, or the likely, the slow weaves she has shown at every trial so far?

    • Esteban Fernandezlopez says:

      I usually prepare for both possibilities and rehearse the more likely one in my head. Sometimes there are sports where I am not sure if I will be able to front so I may have to rear, so I will walk them both and even rehearse them both. In general, I prefer to choose one to visualize but sometimes I can’t predict a dog’s line so I don’t always know. As soon as your dog hits the weave, you’ll know which option to do and so rehearsing them both will be helpful.

  • loisronis@gmail.com says:

    Ok My process is this After I walk my dogs path and my path in class I close my eyes and talk to myself about how specifically I will run the course describing my plans on FC BC RC and where I need to be to execute those maneuvers If it is many obstacles that seem too many to visualize I find it helpful to visualize the last obstacles first because I can always see the beginning if I forget Also visualization in groups of obstacles not each obstacle individually like a pinwheel or a SERP etc

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