Points to remember when training by Averil Cawthera-Purdy
Hopefully, many of you have now got some type of run up timetable for Crufts sorted for yourselves. If you are involved in any of the handling finals you should be starting to think about brushing up the performance of both you and your dog. Even experienced handlers have to keep working to make sure that their handling remains slick and sure and there is no better time than the present. Those weeks are ticking away and there are now only six left to go...
To help with your preparation here are some key points that both beginners and top level handlers need to bear in mind as they are working with their dogs.
On the move
You can make or break your handling when on the move. Key things to remember and work on:
Straight up and down:
Line up the dog correctly (remember NOT the handler) with the judge before setting off.
Keep your lines straight.
Check the position of the judge before turning.
Keep your dog flowing during the turn.
Keep turns as tight as you can while maintaining momentum.
Line your dog up to the judge on the return.
Finish by stacking/standing the dog 3/5 paces (dependent on dog size) directly in front of the judge.
Keep your lines straight.
Exercise correct lead control on the corners.
Keep dog flowing around corners.
Check judges position.
Be aware of the distance from the dog in front.
Watch in case judge moves outside the circle.
Be prepared to change hands if/when this happens.
T and L:
Keep lines straight.
Take care to keep corners neat.
Make sure that the movement pattern is balanced.
Remember when to use inward turns and teach them to your dog so they know what to do.
Moving onto the examination of the dog here are some points that again all handlers need to keep in mind when the judge is going over the dog:
Show both the top and BOTTOM teeth. One of the most common handling faults I come across are handlers who just lift the top lip!
Listen to what the judge has asked for: teeth, bite, mouth – act accordingly. If you are not sure what they want to see ask.
Don’t let the lead get in the way of the judge’s view.
Angle the dog’s head so that both you and the judge can see what you are doing.
Talk to your dog to keep them confident.
Steady your dog so that the judge has an easy job.
Check that the judge has not unbalanced your dog. Re-position quickly and unobtrusively.
DON’T get in the way!
As I said in my last column, often the most successful training is in pairs or small groups. If you haven’t got a training class close by, you can train with brothers or sisters, mums and dads or friends to improve your handling. Do listen to what they say and take on board their advice. As the weeks pass and Crufts looms closer and closer, build up your practice schedule and really work on the areas of your handling that might be letting you down. The more confident you are in your own performance, the more relaxed you will be on the day.