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Show Handling/Training Your New Puppy

Training Your Puppy for Conformation Shows
© By Shirley Bell, Bellcrest Boxers Perm Reg'd

Lesson 1 - 'Watch Me'

One of the first things that I teach a puppy is to 'watch me'.

To do this, stand in front of your dog with a treat that they really love in your closed fist. Let them smell it, and then hold your arm up at shoulder height, stretched right out to the full length of your arm. This exercise can be done with or without a leash. In the beginning I use a show lead so that the puppy will associate the lead with getting treats.

At first your puppy will jump at your outstretched arm trying to get the treat. Ignore him. Continue to ignore him until he glances at you. This may take some time and patience on your part, but once he gets it he will learn quickly.

Reward him/her for even the quickest little glance up at you. You may use a clicker for this exercise, or a word like 'yes' said enthusiastically to mark the exact moment that he looked up at you.

This is a fun exercise and one that you both will come to enjoy. You may find that one arm gets tired holding the bait up and out while waiting for his attention. Use the other arm and consider this your exercise (smile).

Continue to do this a couple of times a day. For however long it takes for him/her to learn to watch you. When he looks right into your eyes, you may extend the giving of the reward for longer periods of time. Now you are ready to add the command 'watch me'.

The 'watch me' command is one that will come in handy many times during your puppies show career. Each time his attention wanders in the show ring, you say 'watch me' and voila', you have his attention back on you and the bait.

Next he will learn to concentrate on your bait pocket in much the same way as he concentrates on looking at you. You can teach this exactly the same way. This is a personal choice. Not necessary, but I like a dog to go into 'show mode' when my hand goes to my pocket. This is very useful in rings where the judges preference is NO BAIT. By having a dog that turns on just by putting your hand in your pocket, you are one step ahead of the crowd. The competition looks kind of dumb founded when they run across a judge the slaps your hand if you try to bait your dog......it happens!!!

Once the puppy understands 'watch me', it is a short trip to learning to watch the pocket from which comes all those wonderful surprises that puppies love. A really focused dog will look right into your eyes at the watch me command, then glance at your pocket and then back at your eyes. This is the beginning of a SHOW DOG.

We also learn to play catch very young. This usually follows the 'watch me' lessons. I use popcorn to teach a puppy to catch. I aim the piece of popcorn between his eyes. For the first few times it will ping him in the forehead and he will look kind of stunned. Make a game of it, and if by chance he does catch it, make a big deal of it by telling him/her how great they are. Repeat often.

If you have questions or need clarification on any of the above, please contact me at Shirley Bell


Handling Introduction
Lesson 1 - Watch Me
Lesson 2 - Stand
Lesson 3 - Stay
Lesson 4 - Baiting (while stacked)
Lesson 5 - Free Baiting (working on this one)

Future lessons not yet completed
Lesson 6 - Straight Down & Back
Lesson 7 - Movement
Lesson 8- Self Stacking
Lesson 9 - Waiting Game
Lesson 10 - Leash Training



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