So you want to start showing?
A few tips that may help
The most important thing to remember when showing your dog/s is that you are getting one person's opinion of your dog on that particular day. Tomorrow is another day. There is an old but true saying ; "Penthouse today- s..t house tomorrow. How true!
It doesn't matter if you win, lose or draw, you always take home the best dog !!!
Just remember that if the same dog won day after day, there would be no dog shows.
If the judge on the day has bred/shown ACD's then he/she will know the standard word for word and what to look for as far as the breed is concerned. He/she will also know all the tricks that can be used to "hide" faults. Having said that, you will find that certain judges prefer certain "types" of dogs.This is because no two judges interpret the standard in exactly the same way. You will also find some judges prefer sound movement to a "stacked" dog that stands like a statue. Well trained does not always mean well conformed. Also, regardless of what you hear, more likely than not, each judge has a "minds eye" of what he/she is looking for, especially if he/she has bred and shown ACD's. IMHO, to have a win under an ACD breeder/judge is far more satisfying than to win under another all breeds judge that say has bred Chihuahuas. Just my opinion.
Enough. Down to the nitty gritty.
- In order to be able to exhibit a dog at any Championship Show in Australia, the owner must be a financial member of a Canine Controlling body in any one of the states. The dog being shown must be a pedigreed dog and registered with one of the Canine Controlling bodies in any of the states. Some states run "Open Shows" which allow registered dogs to be shown by any person, not necessarily a financial member of any Canine Control.
- To exhibit at any shows you must fill out an entry form for that particular show venue and date. These forms are available from Kennel Club Secretarys or the relative Canine governing body. These forms have to be filled in and be sent to the show secretary before a closing date. Some Kennel clubs require a SAE be included with the entry so as to ensure you receive your exhibit number prior to the show date. Ensure you take this number with you ,or, if the Kennel Club does not send you a number then ensure you are given one on the day well before your time in the show ring.
- As most dog shows are held outdoors here in Australia, I would remind you to take ample shade for both you and your dog/s. Drinking water at different venues amy not agree with you or your dog. Take plenty of water with you when travelling to shows and of course a water dish for your dog/s.
- Prepare your dog well before the show. There is nothing more irritating than someone brushing handfuls of undercoat from a dog in the assembly area. A once over just prior to entering the ring is OK.
- Ensure you have a good, strong choker chain or collar and chain if you prefer that. Dogs can be very anti-social on occasion and you may require to control your dog. Give your competitors plenty of space and don't crowd other dogs. This leads to dog fights and the resultant suspension from showing (dog only)for 6 months if it is proven to be your fault.
- It is your responsibility to show your dog in its best condition and to get the best out of it on the day. Let's be honest here. We all enter shows in order to win. You will not win with an ill-groomed, overweight dog that refuses to do what you or the judge wishes done. The onus is on you. Talk to other exhibitors and learn as much as you can. *MOST* are good people and will help you. Forget the others.
- Wear sensible clothing. No tight skirts or high heels.No Japanese riding boots. Confortable shoes, as you will be on your feet for the best part of the proceedings. Wear a colour that will contrast your dog and act like a silhouette, especially on a dull day or for night showing under lights.
- If at all possible, attend handling classes that are run by Kennel Clubs or accredited trainers. They will be able to show you how to set up your dog and what is expected of you and your dog in a show situation. It is advisable to go and watch a show prior to showing and see what you will need to do. Also, dog showing is not everyone's "cup of tea", so maybe it would be best to sit and watch one first.
- Probably the directive most used by judges is a "triangle". The reason for judges asking exhibitors to do this is because the judge can see the rear movement of the dog as it moves away from him, the movement from a side view as the dog moves along the base of the triangle and then the movement of the dog as it travels the third leg of the triangle, back to the judge. As a judge, may I say to you.....please carry out the legs of the triangle in a straight line. Also, please take the few seconds to start your triangle from in front of the judge, not a metre to his side. Also, a good tip is to look up and see where you are going, especially on the last leg. I have been "run into" many times by exhibitors that watch their dog and not where they are going.
- Having entered a show, as soon as possible, check in the catalogue that your dog is shown entered in the right class and as the right sex. Don't laugh, I have taken reserve challenge bitch with a dog! We are all human and everyone makes mistakes. Fasten the number you have been given to the left hand side of the upper section of your body where it can be easily see by the ring steward and judge.It is a good idea to keep a few safety pins in a pocket for emergencies. many friendships have started by lending a safety pin !!! All the judge will know you as is #123 or what ever. The judge does not see a catalogue until after a show. You are just a number in the ring. Some judges speak softly so, if you do not hear what the judge has asked of you, do not hesitate to ask him/her to repeat the directive. Don't go ahead and do what you "thought" he/she said.
- Each ring will have an area set aside, outside and adjacent to the actual showing ring. This is called the "assembly area" When your group (group 5) in the case of ACD's ASTCD's Kelpies etc is called up, make your way immediately to the assembly area. Remember your number and answer the stewards call. The steward will tell you when to enter the ring. Do not leave the assembly area until your group has finished and the steward advises you to leave.
Remember that everyone has been in your position at one time. Even that professional looking handler in the immaculate suit. Any judge worth his salt will not look past the lead. However, you will hear all sorts of stories, the majority coming from those people who would never ever place them selves in the judges position. To coin an old bush saying, these people are "top rail bronco busters", experts in their field, and we all know the definition of an expert. You will also meet some people who will criticise your dog. do not take any notice as it is the judge's opinion you seek, not their's.
- Now I will touch on the most important subject of showing:.....Sportsmanship.
Please, if you cant take being beaten in a dog show ring, give the game away. Watch the bad losers at shows. They pout, mumble obscenities, storm out of the ring, challenge the judges parents martial status and more often than not, pack up and go home. You will never see them offer a congratulatory hand or speak well of another's win. Please don't emulate this type of person. Accept your wins and losses graciously. Accept the fact that you will probably have more losses than wins, which makes a win even more satisfying. Treat a dog show as a social outing and any win as a bonus. If you can do this you will enjoy showing. Many lasting friendships have started in a show ring.
Enjoy your showing, but always remember.......you always take the best dog home, regardless.
I know I have probably missed countless other tips and advice for beginners. If anyone wishes to add to this article please feel free to e-mail me John Chandler.