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Show Handling/Training Your New Puppy

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

The methods describe here are my own tried and true methods. Learned by trial and error. Each and every dog is an individual and as such may differ even from those in their own breed. I will try to add photos to the lessons as time allows.

The old saying, 'practice makes perfect' certainly holds true for showing dogs!! But be careful because you can over do the show training and sour your dog for the ring for life.

One of biggest errors that novices make is over training!! If you don't make an effort to make the whole procedure fun for your pup, you will end up with a dog that is totally bored and just going through the motions. Your mood plays a big part in how your dog reacts to the training. If you are happy happy happy, then so is your dog. If you are in a bad mood, then your dog is confused and uncertain. Do not train your dog when you are in a foul mood or depressed.

It is extremely important that the puppy thinks of the show training as fun and games. Have plenty of rewards on hand. I like to use a variety of things. Things like, cheerios, chicken wiener pieces that have been micro waved till they are hard, liver, beef jerky, popcorn, even cheese.

The dog never knows what is going to come out of that very interesting pocket!!

When you begin to train your puppy for conformation shows, you will need to practice often, for very short periods of time. In the beginning, I will often just stop the pup several times during the day and place them quickly in a stand….hold for a split second and then release with tons of praise. They never know when I will reach down and set them up.

I recommend that one of the first things you purchase is a mirror. This can be purchased at Home Depot or Walmart. It should be no smaller than 24 inches by 32 inches. A mirror is a must, as with it you will be able to see how your dog looks stacked and how you look during the stacking process.

Training should proceed with clear and concise commands. Make sure your commands are used over and over until the dog understands what is expected of him/her. Consistently using the same words to convey commands will help your puppy to learn what it is you are asking him/her to do. Do not confuse your dog. By being consistent you will ensure that the dog knows what to expect and why he/she is being rewarded.

Divide the show training into separate exercises. By this I mean, teach individual parts of the whole conformation training in each lesson. i.e….. Separate baiting from stacking. Divide the stacking lessons into separate segments also. Each section of each lesson should have its own word to describe it, a word the dog understands, and a reward. By dividing the training into small sections and small sessions, you will find that your dog learns much faster and retains that outgoing, happy attitude that we all desire in our show dogs.

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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