View Full Version : Conformation/handling info??

05-19-2007, 08:07 AM
Does or has anyone here shown in conformation events?? I have been searching for a book that includes gaiting, stacking and other techniques for the show ring.

I have been on a waiting list for my first conformation show prospect for about 6 months now and the breeding was suppossed to happen about 2 weeks ago, but the bitch is going through a "spilt heat" and according to the breeder's repo vet she should ovulate in about 3 months.....

Anywho.. I understand the AKC point system and most of the working in the ring but I am having a hard time finding good info on stacking, gaiting, baiting..ect..ect. (somethign with pictures would be GREAT!) Since I am going to owner handle vs. having a pro handler I think it would be a good idea to read all I can while I'm having to wait. :)

I'm so excited about this puppy and I've been driving myself crazy waiting, so I thought I would hunt down something to occupy myself with until my pup is born (lol well at least concieved!)

05-20-2007, 12:17 PM
Shana shows paps, in fact her stud just won his championship, I'm sure she could give you a few pointers, or point you in the right direction for some. :D She herself is an owner and did her own handling and now shes handling for another person, I'll give her a shout to draw her attention to this thread.

05-20-2007, 03:53 PM
Hi Crystal

Welcome to the world of dog showing!

As Heather said, I just finished my male papillon Gryphyn's (aka CH Silverwings Ikarus) Canadian championship last weekend. When Gryphyn went into the ring for the first time last August at the age of 14 months, it was also my first time in the ring. Since then I have learned ALOT. I am now handling our little 7 1/2 month old home bred bitch, Gracie, who is Gryphyn's daughter, as well as another 1 year old male. I've also helped out a lady who shows Siberian huskies a few times. I am by no means a professional handler though! But I would be glad to give you some pointers based on what I have learned. I must warn you however this may end up being a small novel by the time I'm done.

First to answer your questions about books for stacking gaiting etc. I do have some, but they are at my friends (who co owns the papillons and kennel with me) and I don't remember the titles right off. But I just spoke with her and when she gets home tonight she will send me a email with all the titles and authors. One I know for sure is "The Winning Edge: Show Ring Secrets" by George Alston and Connie Vanacore.

As well, I was given some great info with illustrations and very complete clear instructions on stacking and lots of other stuff relating to showing your dog. It is more comprehensive and written better and easier to understand than any book I have yet found. It's about 20 pages, but if you like I can have my friend scan them and I will send them to you.

It is SO nice to be able to say that I handled gryphyn to his championship on my own. Except for his last point last weekend (when I had to go in the ring with our younger male Keegan, because he is much shyer and harder to handle than gryphyn, who will go with anyone and do his thing...somedays I think he could go around the ring himself!) when he went in with a friend of ours, Amy Benson, I handled him exclusively. It did take me awhile to get my courage up to go into the ring, which is why he didn't go in until he was 14 months.

If your area is anything like ours, you will probably run into some people who, either because they are just plain nasty or don't want the competition, try to discourage you from showing. We have been through hell, and now that we have shown them that we are serious competition, it has only gotten worse. To give you an idea of what we faced in the beginning. I was talking to a local papillon breeder, who we didn't get our dogs from. When I told her that I was going to show gryphyn, not because I thought he was amazing or anything (when I originally got Gryphyn it was not as a show dog because he had white on his ear which is severely penalized in papillons, but it grew out as he got older and several people encouraged me to go ahead and show him) but just because I wanted to learn how to handle for when we did have a great dog. her response was a snotty "well that's fine, if you want to be known for showing lousy dogs" That alone almost made me decide not to show him, not only because I now believed he wasn't as nice as I;d been told previously, but because I didn't want to be involved with people like that. But I decided that to not show would be to let her win, and we went into the ring and won over her dogs almost every time.

You just have to ignore people like that. I have found it easier to find friends and mentors outside my breed. That way there isn't the worry of competition. But DON'T let them get you down or let them make you give up.

Anyhow, moving on.

There are some things that I wish people had told me before I went in the ring, and I'll try to put them all here.

Go to as many dog shows as you can before you start showing yourself to become familiar with them.

If there are any handling classes in your area, go to them. They are a huge help for both owner and the dog.

First and foremost, when you go in the ring, have FUN with your dog. Go in with confidence. You have paid your 20$ you deserve to be there as much as anyone else. Confidence goes a long way. if you aren't confidence, the judge can sense it but more importantly so can your dog. Whatever you are feeling goes right down the leash. To give you another example, last weekend I showed my 7 month old female for the first time. Saturday she went into the ring and showed amazingly. She had her head and tail high, had a saucy little walk...she took winners bitch, best of winners (over her dad) and best puppy in group.
Sunday one of our retired female, who had had an eye injury the week before, began to bleed from her injured eye. We were very upset and worried, and my friend (and partner in the kennel) stayed home with her. I was really stressed at the show trying to groom and take care of 2 dogs on my own. This time when I went into the ring, Gracie was anxious, wouldn't keep her tail up...a totally different dog, all because she could sense all wasn't well with me.

Sometimes chewing gum or candy can help mask it a bit. I always have something in my mouth.

Remember when you are going around the ring, to look up at the judge a couple of times and smile. It shows respect for the judge, and confidence in yourself.

When you go in the ring, always wait for the judges instructions, and obey them to a T. if you don;t or don;t hear them or understand, ask. Its better than having a judge get pissy because they think you didn't listen to their instructions.
NEVER get between the judge and the dog. Always make sure the dogs left is to the judge, even when stacking or on the table in the case of small dogs. A good rule of thumb in most cases is to have the dogs head in your left hand while stacking.At the last show I went to this didn't apply as the judge had them face the opposite direction than usual. So always be prepared. I usually get to the show early enough to watch the breeds before me so I know what the judge is asking that day, and be prepared.

Know your dog. Some dogs do better if you get to the show several hours early so they can relax, other get bored if they are there too long.

KNOW YOUR STANDARD. That way you know what the judge is looking for.
Know your dogs strengths and weaknesses. Some people say to handle to hide your dogs faults. I say to handle to accentuate your dogs strong points. For example, my male had a narrow rear and crossed over in the rear as a younger dog, especially at faster speeds. But he had an awesome side gait. So when I gaited him around the ring I went fairly quick, but coming towards or going away from the judge, I went more slowly.

Wear clothes that show off and compliment your dog. Avoid big bright prints as they will overwhelm your dog. Don;t wear white with a white dog, black with a black dog etc, as your dog will blend in. UNLESS your dog has a less than good topline, then wearing the same color will help hide it.

You have, at the most 2-3 minutes to get your moneys worth in the ring. Think of it as selling a product to a big client. Do whatever is necessary to make your dog look good. Always thank the judge with a sir or mam. When you're first in line, and the judge tells you to go around the ring, always ask the person behind you if they are ready before you start out.

Be friendly but don't be a pushover. Some handlers will take advantage of a newbie. If, while you are standing in line, someone crowds you-this can especially happen if you have the bad luck to get stuck near a corner) tell the person to please move up as they are crowding your dog. If they do it a second time, ask again. But the third time, enough;s enough, start backing up into them and their dog. They'll get the picture. Remember, if the judge can;t see your dog they won't place your dog.

If at all possible, Teach your dog to do a great freestack-this is when they stand how they are supposed to by themselves, without you baiting. It always looks awesome.

When you are outside the ring waiting to go in, always remember that the judge can see and hear you. They are not supposed to pre judge, but they are humans, and sometimes they get bored waiting for people to set up their dogs and will glance outside the ring. So if your dog has a bad rear, make sure its not facing the judge rear first. Don't let your dog sprawl out wily nilly. Let them relax, but keep them in a sit or down. As well, its not a great idea to be vocalizing to the handler next to you that it took you an hour this morning to get the dye off fido...nor is it a good idea to be standing there outside the ring applying hairspray or chalk. other than a quick brushing before going in, your grooming should be done before you get to the ring.

When you're in the ring, pay attention to the judge at all times. Even when the judge isn't looking right at your dog, keep it looking good. Have it stacked and ready before he finishes with the dog in front of you. And don't be standing in the ring chatting with friends or family outside the ring-it looks disrespectful.

Remember to keep it fun for your dog-if the dog looks at it as being work they will not enjoy it and will not show well. they don;t understand what the hell they;re doing in there, so always be happy with them whether you do well or not. Your attitude usually determines the dogs attitude.NEVER discipline your dog in the ring. YOU and the dog may know what it was for and that it was deserved, but to people watching it will just look cruel.

Now to go into something I wish someone had told me more about. Politics.

Many times you are going to go in and see a lesser quality dogs take it over other better quality dogs. there can be several reasons. One can be that the dog is from a well known kennel, so the judge is just assuming its good. Another can be that its being handled by a big well known handler. Yet another could be that the judge is friends with the handler. OR the handler could have sucked up to the judge before the show. You're not supposed to have ANY contact with the judge but people can, and do. Some judges will only put up professional handlers. Some prefer men handlers, others women, The judge might be one of the type termed "dirty old men" who will always put up pretty/busty/whatever appeals to him. Some judges prefer certain colors to others. Some only look at the head, some only look at the gait...Or the judge could just be an incompetent ass who has no clue about the breed. but what I'm getting at is the best dog doesn't always win. Money and a big name talks.
As an example of the sucking up to judges. At a recent show I went to, my male was up against a dog that a local lady was handling for someone in the US-now this dog elbowed out REALLY badly-he was really pigeon toed-even the handler had remarked upon it.

When we went into the ring the judge said to this other handler "Oh its nice to see you finally in the ring" I was kinda like "huh" because I knew this handler had said she'd never shown under this judge before. So obviously she'd been talking to him at some point that weekend. Anyhow, I took my boy around and when we did the down and back, where you normally stop in front of the judge for the judge to get your dogs expression, the judge just waved me on, didn't even LOOK at my dog...of course the other dog won, and as I was leaving the ring I heard the judge say to the other handler "Thank you so much for all your help this weekend. Now as far as I know you aren't supposed to have anything to do with the judge prior to showing under him. I was so annoyed. This inferior dog also went on to take BOB over a US/finish CH who was a special.

Its very annoying when this happens, but its a fact of show life.
Always remember you are paying for the judges opinion. Never try to argue with a judge's decision. You ARE allowed to ask the judge why they chose the other dog over yours as long as it is done in a respectful way.
Whether you win or lose, be a good sport, always congratulate the winner. Stomping away from the ring muttering nasty things about the judge just makes you look bad, as satisfying as it may be at the time!

Remember in the end, its only a show, and there will be more. Just always try to have fun, and make it fun for your dog. It really helps to have a mentor in your breed-if the person you are getting your dog from will do that is the best as they know their lines strengths and weaknesses. I hadn't been able to find a mentor in the breed, but found one in the toy group who breeds and show Chihuahuas but used to own papillons, so I was lucky that way.

You need a backbone, thick skin, and the ability not to take things to heart. or else you will be a mess. I'm still working on this. :o)

Hope this helps.
Good luck-if there is any other way I can help please feel free to email me pawprints@ns.sympatico.ca