A dog show is not exactly a comparison of one dog to another. Several factors are considered while judging – physical appearance, temperament, character, coupled with the fitness and willingness to perform. As everyone will agree, proper show handling can enhance the chances of winning with our dogs at shows. Here are some techniques, which could be beneficial to upcoming new exhibitors and people interested in dog handling. When inside the judging ring, the judge expects that the exhibitor would be aware about performing certain exercises. The judge is at liberty to ask exhibitor to perform so that he may be able to assess the merits and demerits of the dog. Amongst the several exercises the judge may ask the exhibitor to perform, here are the two most important ones:
The show stand presentations
There are perhaps as many show stand positions as one may conceive, positions vary from handler to handler and exhibit to exhibit. The best position is the one that is best suited to both the exhibit and the exhibitor – and the position in which the dog seems to be most comfortable. Never mind the handler as here the exhibit is more important, so think about him. Different breeds call for different presentation techniques. The job of the handler is to bring out the very best points in the exhibits. We learn from our own dogs that different show stand positions are necessary even within the dogs of the same breed. Just like us, the temperament and character of each dog is different. Some dogs when made to stand facing another dog appear more alert. You must of course keep in mind that not all judges will permit you to use this position.
The show movements
After the presentation in stand, the judge will request the handler to walk away and towards so that the straightness of the legs in movement can be seen. Here is a list of a few movements: The triangle: An exhibit will be requested to move directly away from the judge in a straight line, towards the far corner of the ring; then across the ring, then back to the judge – in a diagonal line; stopping approximately about 5 feet in front of the judge. (Figure i)
The straight and back: As the name suggests, this exercise requests that an exhibit moves directly away from the judge, making a sharp “U” turn and returning to the judge in almost straight line; again stopping approximately 5 feet away from the judge. (Figure ii)
The diagonal: It is similar to straight and back exercise, with the only difference that the exhibit is requested to move diagonally across the ring and back to the judge. (Figure iii)
The circle: In moving your dog in a circle, always remember that your dog is to be always held on your left, towards the inside of the ring and nearest to the judge; never away from the judge. (Figure iv)
Turnaround (U-turn): There are two variations in turning an exhibit around in ‘Triangle,’ ‘The straight and back’ and ‘Diagonal exercises’. These include the ‘Outer turn’ and ‘Inside turn.’
In the ‘Outer turn,’ the handler lets his dog gait on the outer “semi-circle”, pivoting the dog from the inside. The leash is to be lengthened as the dog starts on his own and is quickly but not abruptly retrieved when the dog completes his turn. This method is suggested for larger breeds, as the inside turn will tend to “break” the rhythm of his stride, and thus will interfere with his movement. (Figure v)
The ‘Inside turn’ method is exactly opposite of the outer turn; where instead of the dog taking the “walk around,” the handler walks in the outer semi-circle, and the dog becomes the pivot; but certainly not a stationary one. This method is ideal for smaller breeds who tend to lag behind the handler, or breeds with short gait. Using this method, the handler quickens his pace on the turn, but without disrupting the gait of the dog. It is not necessary to extend the length of the leash when doing this turn, but the handler would require quickening his pace. (Figure vi)
It is seen that most exhibitors pay very little attention to these basics, in moving their dogs in the ring and pay a heavy price for their lack of interest. Sometimes, handlers stop their dogs “DEAD” on the tracks in order to make abrupt and clumsy turns.
(Partha Sekhar Chatterjee has been judging All Breeds Dogs at Championship level in India for over 20 years. He has also been an International Judge for 15 years. He can be contacted at 033-23505877, 9830795502.)