Specific Show Training
During show training there are many things for both you and the puppy to learn. As with all training, timing is very important, and when the puppy gets it wrong you must never show any annoyance, impatience or displeasure, the puppy wants to please you and does not do things wrong on purpose, more often it is the handler getting the wrong message across to the pup.
For the show ring the pup needs to learn how to be presented in a variety of different ways. During the early training and socialisation it is useful to encourage the pup to stand in a natural pose, but there are other methods of showing a dog. Mainly these are
* Free standing
The puppy has become used to free standing of a sort, that is posing in a natural way, standing four square with his/her weight evenly distributed through all four feet. As mentioned in the socialisation section the command ‘stand’ is used and the pup learns to associate with that command. Now we have to try to perfect the pose.
You will need a show lead, Boxers tend to be shown on a fine light lead, with a fine fairly long choke chain, this type of lead helps hi-light why the dog needs to be well under your control at all times in the ring, because as a controlling aid, these leads are of no use what so ever! They are purely for the show ring. Introduce the lead during very short training sessions, it is also a good idea to wear a ‘bum bag’ or have pockets during training sessions to keep treats or toys in. The pup will soon come to associate the lead and bag with really good fun, and enjoy the sessions.
During baiting (as in the above picture) the puppy is allowed to chew at a bone or piece of cheese while we arrange the pups feet so the pup is standing in a square manner. It is an advantage to have a mirror opposite you and the puppy so you can see a true overall image of the pup, you are seeing what the judge sees. You can see and feel that the pup is set up in a square pose with a crested neck. If the pup is well balanced overall he/she will stand in a near perfect pose automatically and you just need a little ‘fine tuning’ to perfect the picture – a pup or adult with good balance stands like this because it is comfortable and natural to do so.
This can be taught in a very similar way to baiting, the pup has come to know what stand means, and what is wanted from him/her. Once the pup is set up, use the stand command, then throw a toy (not food as this can be off putting for other dogs in the ring) just in front of the pup and tell him/her to ‘watch’. The pup will remain quite animated though at first it is only fleeting! Tell the pup he/she has ‘finished’ and allow him/her to retrieve the treat or bait, and give loads of praise. He/she is learning control, standing until you give the release word (finished) signalling the end of the exercise.
Stringing is another way of posing your do for a show. The same stand command is given but this time when the dog is standing in the correct position, the choke chain (a double action choker is best for this) is placed high on the dogs neck, and the head is held in a high position by the choker. It is not advisable to use this method on a puppy, it is not the easiest method of presenting your dog either, although it looks very good when performed well, it looks equally dreadful when it is not!!
Free standing has already been mentioned; it is a natural way for a well-balanced dog to stand. However not many are made well enough to use this pose. The STAND command is given and the animal stands four square, stand in front of the dog with a titbit or toy level with his/her head, if the toy is held too high he/she will be thrown off balance, too low and the dog will roach his/her back and look awful
It must be remembered that posing is extremely tiring for a puppy, so sessions must be kept short, and a high level of interest must be maintained, the puppy must enjoy showing, and it will as long as the fun levels are high. It might take a long time to find your pups ‘buttons’, but once you have you will have an invaluable tool in the ring. Your dog will remain animated and on his/her toes simply because he/she is enjoying him/herself. If the puppy does not learn that showing is fun you will end up with a wooden, bored dog with no natural animation. Remember puppies are babies and are meant to play!
Teaching the dog to stand is also valuable for visits to the vet, or grooming purposes.
It is also a good idea to teach a puppy to respond to applause, this is taught at shows as you go along. When a class winner is announced there is usually a round of applause from spectators, your pup may be a bit apprehensive at first, but make a big fuss of him/her, saying good boy/girl, and he/she will soon accept the noise.
Your puppy can attend obedience classes once preliminary vaccinations are out of the way, here he/she will come into contact with many other dogs, noise, and people which is valuable for his/her socialisation. He/she can also begin attending ring craft classes, conditions are similar to a show at these fun classes. Your puppy will be in close proximity to other dogs and pups; strangers will go over them and look in their mouths.
Movement and gaiting patterns will be taught and you, and your puppy will learn how to move at the correct speed for his age, and size.
Enjoy your show prospect, and have fun together.
This has been taken from part of the work I did when at college. It is not intended to be exhaustive and is a guide only. It may not be reproduced in part or whole without the prior consent of the author
© Jan Buckley 1994 - 2010
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