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First Time at the USDAA Cynosport World Games?

So, its your first year at Cynosport. Your friends and trainers told you that you were ready, and now you're at the main event. Now what?

by Kama Rueschenberg

The first time at Cynosport can be overwhelming. There are a lot of people in the walk-throughs, the crating area is a huge grid of kennels, the top handlers are walking the same courses you are, you walk multiple courses in the morning but you don't get to actually run them until much later in the day, and there is so much adrenaline in the air you can almost taste it.

How do you handle the pressure?

Here are five tips to kick ring anxiety to the curb and rule your runs at your first Cynosport World Games:

1.  Get Course Maps - Whether you choose to get a hard-copy once they're out in the morning, or you prefer to download the PDF posted on (or both), this is a step you don't want to miss. Take the time to memorize the course from the map, come up with a plan, and if possible, consult your trainers or friends. Having a plan beforehand will help you have a more effective walk-through. You will also be able to use the course map later in the day to refresh and solidify the course in your mind before you have your run.

2.  Don't watch the dogs immediately before your turn - watch the runs, watch your favorite handlers, but dont watch the dogs right before you. The ten or so dogs before you should not be your focus - your plan and your dog should be your focus. During this time before your run, engage your dog in a warm-up routine or take the time to once again visualize your run.

3.  Sign up for announcements - a lot of stress at large events comes from being in the wrong place or being there at the wrong time. Make sure to subscribe to the event announcements at so you do not miss any changes that affect your run, such as ring delays.

4.  Surround yourself with positivity - find your support network and use that team to remind one another how you can do it. Cheer for one another. Listen to worries, and provide statements of strength. Insecurities at this stage in the game are normal, so it is important to find a few friends who are willing to remind you that you are here because you are good enough, and you earned your way to Cynosport with qualifiers that prove you are capable.

5.  Eat, Sleep, Play and Breathe - Nerves can make it difficult to do even the most routine things; but not eating, not sleeping, and not taking time to play with your dog and relax will only enhance your nerves while also possibly affecting your concentration and performance at the event. Make sure to eat at least a few small snacks throughout the day (a nervous stomach can handle a snack much easier than a meal). Get to bed early, after all, you will be up early! And take time to relax. Visit the vendors, go talk to the sponsors, play with your dog, or just spend some time in the stands watching some great teams compete.

There are many other ways handlers deal with stress at events, so it is important to consult your friends and trainers to find out what works for them. Then, experiment! Try one or two things at a time until you find a system that works for you!

Most of all, enjoy! You are a part of the 2015 USDAA Cynosport World Games!


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