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Bookshelf - Conquering Ring Nerves

by Diane Peters Mayer MSW

The American dog scene is highly competitive and the show scene largely composed of professional handlers. Perhaps this is why the amateur dog owner has taken up the many ‘dog related sports’. With the American determination to win, a competitor in these exhausting disciplines would need to be super fit and have nerves of steel.

It appears that many people deciding to perform with their own dogs have suffered a great deal of anxiety and stress in their efforts to give a top class performance.

This book is written with advice on how to get mentally and physically in shape to take part in competition with enjoyment. ‘Conquering Ring Nerves’ covers all aspects of competing with dogs in the active disciplines and the problems likely to be faced by the handler and offers a wide choice of help and advice.

The first chapter deals with anxiety and apparently some people are so wrought up as to make themselves ill, in fact some of the symptoms mentioned are so disagreeable one wonders why anyone suffering so badly would contemplate competing!

Panic attacks just as the handler is called to get his or her dog to perform seem to be a general problem. There is quite a lot of medical jargon in this chapter so the distressed can understand what is happening to them.

There is a page of symptoms the competitor may suffer from and a check list to complete. Following the advice on how to conquer all the unpleasant symptoms noted under ‘anxiety’, there is a 14 page chapter entitled ‘The Breath is the Key’ which includes Yoga exercises, and a 24 page chapter headed ‘Stretching: Loosen and Energize’, which is fully illustrated. This is followed by chapter, on ‘Full Body Progress Relaxation’, ‘The Path to Serenity’, and ‘Ring Nerves Desensitization’.

To follow all this well meant advice would take a great deal of time and application but would no doubt bring some healthful benefits; whether it would make anyone a better handler if they had no obvious bent for the job, is problematical.

Readers are advised to study the Table of Contents and then work through the chapters in order and to keep a Ring Nerves Journal to chart progress and use a loose leaf binder to write down how they react to all the exercises.

I was pleased to note that the author suggests that if the reader has health problems, they should see their physician before commencing the programme.

I am sure there are people in this country, especially those taking part in the active games with their dogs, who could find this book or parts of it, useful, but it is aimed at the American dog owner, and things are very different over the pond!

The author Diane Peters Mayer MSW is a psychotherapist specialising in studying and treating anxiety disorders. The book is well produced and bound in hardback. Published by Howell Book House an Imprint of Wiley. Price £19.45 from OUR DOGS bookshop.

Peggy Grayson