Showing your dog for the first time?
19 Dec 2008
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Do you have a nice dog from a good lineage and you want to show him in the comming dog-show? But hey wait i am a rookie, can i still do it? Probably yes read on (exerpts from an article written by Jane Anderson).
So what is the judge looking for ?
The overall appearance of the dog: Your dog needs to be groomed within the required standard.
Movement: You must understand the pace at which your dog needs to move to produce the desired gait. For some breeds, the dog should be move slowly. For others, you should move the dog at a quick speed. For example, the chow chow is showed at a relatively slow pace, while the great dane, should move very quickly, showing the judge that the dog can move at the pace required for the dog to perform the job it was bred for. Often people make the mistake of running their dog at an incorrect speed. Get other people to help you sort this out.
You will be required to run your dog in a certain pattern. Most common is the triangle where the judge is ascertaining the movement of the dog three different ways.
It is rare that a dog with poor movement (ie: crabbing) will be a major winner in the ring. A dog with poor movement will more often than not re-produce this poor movement in subsequent generations.
At a "stack" : It does take practice for both you and your dog to get him/her to stop and stand in the required fashion. You will have to learn how to "free stack" your dog, and also how to "hand stack". Both are required. Often it will take a young pup some time to get used to this. I've found the best way to train this is by using positive reinforcement methods only.
You need to able to stack your dog in less than 10 seconds, and free stack it at the end of a triangle.
Temperament: A dog that demonstrates a poor temperament in the ring should not win. Often dogs as they are new to the ring will not be too happy as they can be nervous, just like the handlers! However, a dog should never be vicious.
Animation: Ah this is a hard one. The judge is looking to see how interested your dog looks in what is going on around him/her. Many a ribbon has been lost because the dog has been too hot or too complacent to show the "required" animation.
It is perfectly "legal" for you to use a small piece of dried liver in your hand, or a small toy to show the judge that your dog can be animated.
What do I do with the leash?
People will generally use what is called a "choker" or slip chain around the neck of the dog. Please note: if you have a large and/or strong breed, make sure you have a suitable leash strength for the ring. Seek guidance from the vendor if you need to. Personally I prefer a leash that does not bring attention to the fact the dog is on a lead. Therefore, flourescent pick is definitely out.
You also need to be careful of the length of the lead. Generally you want to be able to quickly roll the leash up into your hand - so you don't want anything too long. On the other hand, you also need enough length so that you can allow your dog freedom of movement as it moves around the ring.
You need to practice collecting the leash up in your hand. You should never have the end of the lead dangling out of your hand as it detracts from the overall picture that you are trying to create. Whether you run your dog on a loose leash or a firm leash is dependent on how your dog works for you.
What should I wear?
Ok, you have your dog well groomed, you've been practising at home. To finish off the picture, make sure you look the part.As a general rule, I dress as if I'm going to a job interview, or I'm speaking in front of a large group of people.
And often when you go into the ring, you are in front of a large audience.So make sure you look fabulous. Wear a colour that is different from your dog. Try and wear a plain outfit - definitely nothing with florals, dots, etc. Dress conservatively.
Make the effort!
How should I act in the ring?
Whether you are being paid or not to go into the show ring you should always act professionally. You need to act in a courteous and sporting way.
There are some people in the show ring that will act in a way that they should be ashamed of. You will most probably encounter some things in the ring that should never be seen there. If this happens, take it in your stride. It is more than likely the judge (and the crowd) has seen it too. I have heard of many occasions when the judge has seen such errant behaviour from a handler, and has deliberately not awarded the dog a ribbon. Personally, I believe that if a handler exhibits such poor behaviour, they should be excused from the ring for the rest of the day's activities.
When you handle the dog, treat it as if it is a precious being, which, of course, it is. Show respect for your dog and yourself. If possible on a hot day, you may be permitted to move your dog into the shade.
And smile! Too often you will see someone in the ring with a terrible frown on their face. Often, they will not be aware they are doing it. I had to train myself and ask for lots of feedback from friends to make sure I corrected my frowning in the ring. It is definitely hard to smile when you are working hard and if you are nervous. But with practice you can do it.
After a while, you will probably learn to enjoy yourself in the ring. I know at first, I was very nervous. It took me many shows to gain the confidence I needed.
If you have a bad day, well that's part of the game. Some days will be great days. Enjoy all the different sorts of days and look at mistakes as learning opportunities.