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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 2- 'Stand'

I usually start puppies around 4 weeks of age, as soon as they can stand.

I start them by standing them on the grooming table and cuddling them, playing with them and just plain loving them. Making this a fun experience. Then I just kind of place them 4 square. More loving and laughing, and cuddling, and that is the lesson for today.

If you did not breed your pup, but purchased it from a reputable breeder as a show prospect, odds are that what I do above is also done by your breeder. You will want to carry on teaching the stand/stack as the puppy grows.

Here is how you go about doing just that. A good time to begin formal show training is around three to four months of age. Prior to this time, any standing or stacking is playtime.

For the purpose of these show training lessons, we will assume that your puppy is lead trained. I will offer references on lead training at the end of these lessons. Puppies should never be dragged or forced to do something. You should develop methods that encourage proper behaviour rather than punishing poor behaviour.

The training methods that I employ work well for all ages. I train our dogs to show on the floor and only use the table for young puppies. Should you be training a breed that is shown on the table, these methods should work well too.

'Stand' is the second exercise that I teach. The most important part of the stand exercise is what I like to call head control. If you have control over the head then you are able to control more easily where the rest of the parts go.

Choose a word to use when placing a leg. Some people use the word 'place' as they set the leg where they want it. I use the word 'step'. You will see in later lessons why I use the 'step' command.

Next,I hold the head firmly, by the muzzle with the left hand. Then, with your right hand hold the right elbow of the dog and place it straight down, pointing your finger downwards as you do this and giving the command that you have chosen for this exercise. Change hands. Now you are using your right hand to control the head as you place the left leg by the elbow.

Using your right hand under the jaw for head control, reach back with the left hand as you put each rear foot in the proper place. Use another word that you have chosen for this particular part of the stand exercise. I use the word 'foot' or 'back foot'. In the first few lessons, the feet don't have to be in perfect position.

Imagine a drawing of a rectangle on the floor.

'Place' a front foot on the inside of each of the two upper corners. On the back corners, place the feet on the outer corners of the rectangle. Make sure feet are pointed forward. Hocks should be straight up and down not slanted inwards or outwards. Toes forward.

What you are teaching here is the words and commands and relating them to the movements that they refer to. It won't take long before your puppy understands what you want. Make this fun and when the puppy is standing comfortably, even if just for a second or two…..reward him/her. Praise praise praise. They love to be told how good they are.

Another great aid in teaching a puppy to stand are 'stacking blocks'. These are available from

Remember Practice makes perfect, but keep it fun!! Use your mirror!

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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