Skills and talents fade if we don’t put them to good use. If we don’t practice what we know and learn more about what we want to know, we are essentially “out of practice.”

This is why practice should be a part of our everyday regular schedule. Practice keeps our skills, talents and abilities honed. This is especially true for conformation and performance exhibitors.

Practice makes perfect, but to be perfect we have to first understand what “perfect” means.

In most cases, I would say it’s difficult to achieve perfection because perfect means having no flaws. None.

Well, let’s face it, everyone has flaws, and even the greatest show dogs have their faults.

Thankfully flaws aren’t always a bad thing, you know. When flaws (or mistakes) happen while practicing a certain skill, they help to prepare us for what we can expect in the future. They can make us stronger.

Practice means rehearsing something over and over. When we practice with our dogs, we repeat a routine again and again to make improvements and eventually master it. This is exactly why the words practice and perfect work so well together in one phrase. They complement each other so well.

Now just because they do indeed complement each other doesn’t mean if you are practicing something you have to be flawless from the start. Perfection takes time. A long period of time.

Why do you think the most accomplished individuals are people like our parents or our teachers? Well, it’s likely because they’ve had more time to practice whatever it is they’ve perfected!

You may be wondering where I’m going with this. Well, admittedly I’m still at the point where I have to practice the things I love to do. But sometimes I lose sight of the long-term goals. I can get caught up in the negative side of things.

This is really hard to admit, but when I don’t exactly feel like practicing, I should just say to myself, “Hello! It’s not such a bad thing to struggle a little. I just need to practice a bit more.”

I’m pretty sure this is true for a lot of us, and that’s why I decided to take the leap and be the first to say, “It’s OK!” We all need a little extra practice time every once in a while to be brought back down to earth.

Being back in the show scene more consistently over these last few months has given me a chance to meet new people and reconnect with other friends. As I’ve observed some of these folks (I’m a big people watcher, shhh!), I can sometimes see defeat in their eyes when something goes wrong or they’ve had a bad moment.

It just tears me apart to see this happen, and it even brings me back to moments when I had feelings of defeat. I’ve learned that this is OK and is just a reminder to keep on practicing.

It’s OK to be defeated and it’s OK to be that person who says, “I need to practice more.”

Remember, practice does make perfect, the effects just aren’t immediate.

P.S. Dogs Freakin’ Rule!