By Mark Laker
Do you remember the first time you stepped out of your comfort zone with your best friend (canine companion) next to you?
I still can, although I often try to forget it. Comfort zones are strange things, some people hate them and some people appreciate how they can help develop us to deal with many life experiences.
The other weird thing about comfort zones is unless you keep working on them, they fade away. Something I experienced recently with flying.
I’ve never been a great flyer, I don’t hate it, but its not my first choice of transport. I used to fly weekly with my job, but now its a few times a year.
I recently flew to Italy for the European Open. I could feel those same feelings building up inside like they were many years ago when I first took regular flights. I realised I haven’t practised being in this comfort zone for a while.
The Agility Team GB handlers, preparing for next months FCI World Championships, will be working hard on their comfort zones over the next few weeks. While they’ll be preparing their physical fitness and their handling skills, their mental skills training will include pushing they comfort zones out even further.
Having your dog next to you in these situations can give you confidence and a distraction from the things effecting your mental game. So what ever activity you do with your dog, remember if you’re feeling ‘uncomfortable’ , on the start line (out of your comfort zone), focus on your dog, let your skills take over and your brain run on auto-pilot. Very soon another competition experience will be in the ‘Bank of Comfort’.
Next month I’ll be reporting from the FCI World Championships in Czech Republic.