Roy spoke about what to do and what not, see his article. Gladys showed how to start training with your puppy and Geraldine handed out judging sheets for people to learn how that has to be done. All very informative and a pity not many of the new competitors did not come to listen and learn.
WHAT TO DO AND WHAT NOT TO DO IN THE OBEDIENCE RING – PREPARATION
Before you leave home, make sure you have your Record Card, lead, retrieve article and of course, your Dog.
Leave home in plenty of time to get to the venue, exercise your dog, settle down and be at the ringside with your Record Card, your Dog and your Retrieve Article when your Class is called.
After the Draw is made do not stray too far from the ringside. Watch the Heel Course demonstration. The Judge is running round the ring for your benefit, not his. Make sure you are ready to go in the ring as the previous dog comes out. Preferably sit by the ringside watching the other competitors and their mistakes and listen to the Judge’s critique of the handlers before you. You can learn a lot.
First and foremost – TRY TO RELAX IN THE RING
Usually in the Junior Classes the Judge will start with Heel Work. Train to walk in the ring a couple of paces before the mark, indicated by the Steward, in the direction the Heel Course will go and tell your dog to sit on the mark. This will help you relax. He should sit straight. Avoid standing on the mark and pulling your Dog into what you think is straight. I have penalised many dogs, over the past couple of years, for not sitting straight at the start of the exercise. This also applies in the Recall and the Retrieve. Walk your dog in. If it sits straight when heeling then it will start straight with little fuss.
Loose lead. Hold your lead with as big a loop on as possible without tripping over it. I the dog goes wide, say on a turn, you will loose less than if the lead becomes tight. DO NOT JERK THE LEAD IN THE RING. This is not a training session and you will be penalised heavily if you do.
When heeling, DO NOT NAG your dog. You are allowed to talk during the Junior Classes. This should be quiet praise when the dog is working well, not scolding if the dog makes a mistake. Encouragment is a must. Punishment will be penalised. Step off on your left foot. That is the one closest to the dog.
Walk straight. Look up. Walk towards a marker, such as a tree, and rely on the dog to keep close. If you favour the dog, veering off to the left, you will still be penalised for the dog working wide.
When coming to a Halt, stop on your right foot and bring your left foot up alongside. Then you will not be penalised for “Stepping Into” your dog. If you practice this the dog will follow your left foot and still be straight.
Make your turns as sharp as possible. The Command is “Right TURN” not right wheel. This particularly aplies to turns at the Halt. You are allowed some lateral movement, but keep it to the minimum. You will be in C Test one day, hopefully.
Now, Recalls. Having set your dog up straight as I explained before, step off with your RIGHT foot. The left foot is associated with Heeling. When you are ordered to ‘About Turn’ turn LEFT. You are then lined up directly in front of your dog. You might be 10-20 metres away but every little helps.
Stop with your feet comfortably apart. You are allowed to move your body to encourage your dog to come in straight, but if your feet are together, you are likely to move them, and lose marks or fall over and make a complete ass of yourself. This also applies to the Retrieve, when the dog is, hopefully, bringing the article back to you.
Now the Stays. The same warning as in (9) above applies. Do not stand with your feet together and then realise after 2 minutes in the Novice ‘Down’ Stay you are uncomfortable and spread your feet. That is equivalent to the dog moving and you will lose the appropriate marks. Either put your hands behind you or in front of you and keep them there the whole time during the stay. If a bee lands on you nose – tough. It will fly away of its own accord. If you try to brush it away, Marks will fly away. What is a swollen nose compared to qualifying for ‘A’ Test
I have tried to cover most of the faults I see in the Ring made unwittingly by handlers. I draw your attention to Section 3.1 of the “Regulations for Obedience Classes – Schedule 5A promulgated 1 January 2012,” which says “All handlers are expected to have a thorough knowledge of the Regulations covering the class entered”
My comments have been directed at Beginners and Novice Classes because by the time a Competitor gets Class ‘A’ they should have learned the ringcraft necessary to get them there. If anyone can bring any other points to mind, I will be only too pleased to incorporate them into this document which I hope to circulate to help future “Champions”
Roy Ellis February 2013