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Home 9 Breeder Education Home 9 Lesson #4-Courtesy In The Ring

Lesson #4-Courtesy In The Ring

Michelle Santana

Each professional handler may have their own “wishes” of others, and then there are the “rules”, whether documented or just courtesy-implied.

My beliefs are  based on based on what I would expect to be done unto me.

How much room should you place between you and the Handler & Dog in front of you?

This is real hard to gauge sometimes. I prefer to err on the side of leaving to much room. That way you will have plenty of room to work Your dog. I’d guesstimate leaving about two maybe-three feet IF the ring allows it.

Important point to remember is you have to leave enough room for each person to ‘show’ their dog to its best advantage. That is the single most important reason you are there.  To show your dog.  If you don’t leave enough room in front of you, and the judge wants to see expression, you want the ability to bait your dog while standing in front of it (I like to do this). You are going to compromise the judge’s impression if you’ve left no room for this manoeuvre!  You have to have enough room between you and the dog in front of you so that your legs or clothing don’t hinder the dog in front of you if you have to bait your dog from the front. You need “manoeuvring” room…

If you feel like a handler is crowding you from behind you need to assess and address this BEFORE they get all set up.  Politely ask, “Could you please give me a little more room?  My dog gets a little nervous if we’re crowded”.  Most Handlers would be happy to oblige. IF you wait until the handler’s dog is all set up, and likely those behind him are as well,), you’re apt to be met with a glare and the handler may or may not move, depending on if it will jeopardize the ‘area’ they scoped out for themselves. It’s not that the handler wants to be a grinch but they have to calculate if they will have enough room and time to show their dog off to its best advantage if they oblige you.  If you make an error in calculating how much room you need and then have to back up into the handler behind your space, you aren’t going to like the look you will get if it ends up messing up their dog.  You need to be cognizant of preventing another handler from presenting their dog properly!

You need to be aware of when it’s your turn and as well as when all the dogs are done and it’s time for the final line-up. I see a lot of handlers not paying attention and mess up in this area.  Everyone makes mistakes occasionally, with getting too close/crowding/disrupting another handlers dog. It just happens even in the best of situations. If you feel you’ve possibly caused someone else’s dog to mess up because of a miscalculation just apologize sincerely. Usually, if it doesn’t become habitual, all will be forgotten very quickly.

When is it okay to speak to another handler?

You mean in the ring, at ringside or when?

During judging if a handler is real busy it may be impossible to carry on a conversation with them.  There are some handlers that are quite chatty in the ring and seem to keep up on all the gossip for the week.

Personally, I carry on very few conversations while in the ring. I might carry on a short something or other but it is usually kept real short. I know I like it best if someone approaches me right before/during or after judging and asks when it would be a good time to talk. That way I can say yes/no or suggest a better time. This is probably the most polite way.  Ask. Question: Baiting issues; talking and making sounds to your dog?

There is a lot of grey area here. I am a real ‘talker’ to the dogs I show. I almost never shut up and it irritates some and not others. Of course I try to keep my voice down but to some handlers anything you do is an irritant. When I’m in the ring I like to hang out at the end of the line, behind everyone.  That way I can talk and play with my dog as much as I want without disturbing anybody. When it’s close to my turn or its time to line them all up I move up to my actual spot in the line.

So, I guess the key here, is, again, you’re there to show your dog to the best of it’s advantage — if it involves talking or toy noises then you utilize those ‘tools’.

Just be cognizant and respectful if it seems to be messing up another handler´s dog, curtail that which is upsetting to another dog. Handlers just have to learn to deal with it, IF it´s not disrupting their dog.

If you are behind a dog that is being gone over by the judge you should try to remain as quiet as possible.  This issue also speaks to ‘temperament’

It is your right to talk to your dog and possibly offer it a toy.  If another handler’s dog can’t ‘handle’ it that speaks to their dog’s temperament and you should not become a zombie in the ring just to appease a dogs ‘poor temperament’. That situation then infringes on you trying to show your dog to its best advantage.  Again, be respectful and behave as you would want if the situation was reversed.

Speaking to the judge? Answer: From my experience some judges are very gregarious in the ring and chat with everybody. Others are stone walls. I always try to smile and maybe give eye contact, just as a pleasantry. When a judge asks you to do something a polite yes Sir/ Madam is in order.

Each judge pretty much sets their own ‘tone’ as to how much conversation they want to have during judging. You have to take your direction from what you sense from them. If you win and are having your photo taken with the judge it is perfectly okay to carry on a conversation.

How much time to take when readying for down and backs?

Well, when the judge starts tapping his foot you know he’s ready and waiting!  Actually, take your time, within reason. Some Judges are more than a little rude and literally hurry you along. But generally, most really want to see you and your dog perform at your best.  You might just be their winner!

So, it behoves you to

  1. BREATH, collect the collar up around your dog’s neck,
  2. Collect the lead in your hand
  3. Do a courtesy turn so you can get your dog in a smooth, rhythmic trot
  4. Look down the ring to fixate on a mark to run straight to and make the darndest smooth, rhythmic straight down and back that any mentor would be proud of!
  5. When you get to the end of the ring make your turn to come back, look up so you can see if you are still in alignment with the judge, look him in the eye so he sees that you’re confident that you have the best dog entered and make a bee line back to him
  6. IMPORTANT: You should already have the ‘Game Plan’ in your mind as to where exactly you are going to stop for the free bait (about 3 feet from the judge).  Don’t get so caught up in watching your dog that you forget your ‘mark’ and crowd, or worse yet, run into the judge when you free bait!