Monday, 9 January 2012

Handling Seminar

This past weekend I attended a seminar with Stella on Show Handling.  Confirmation is not really my thing but I am considering doing a few shows with her just for the experience.  She is seven months now and I thought this was a great opportunity to introduce her to a world that will be similar to any rally or obedience trials in our future.  The seminar was well attended with about 50 dogs and was held in a building that often is the venue for local trials.  My original plan was to take both dogs but I decided it would be good for Stella to go alone plus Riley is kinda to big for his crate for any long periods of time.

My goals for the weekend were to learn more about confirmation handling and to make sure that Stella had a positive experience.  When we first walked into the building Stella seemed a bit overwhelmed but within minutes she was happy and looking around.   This is also the first time I have crated her anywhere other than a home situation so I wasn't sure if she would be scared or anxious.  I placed my chair close enough to hear her and walked over occasionally to give her a treat.  A dog right next to us was screaming loudly so I didn't want her to pick up on that.  Luckily most of the dogs settled and she did great!  I did cover the front of the crate a few times when she first saw some dogs out working close to her and barked at them but by the end of the weekend she was very comfortable and a few times when I went back to reload treats she went right into her crate and settled with the door open and waited for me. 

Our first time out in the working part we were just supposed to trot them out and observe if we saw any of the common movement problems.  She cracked me up because she bounced happily the entire way around the ring trying to play with me.  In my book that was great because it showed that she was very comfortable.  The weekend progressed and we learned lots about presentation.  A lot of the moves were tough for both of us because they are contrary to the obedience type things we have worked on.  She is used to sitting in heel position and giving me more eye contact in heel position instead of just moving forward but we figured most of it out by the end of the weekend.  The techniques shown were all very positive and treat based.  I worked lots of our own fun games in to keep her interest high and I loved that she was happy and focused even when there were 50 dogs working all around us.  She is going through a minor fear stage right now so a few times she was startled but recovered quickly.  I love this puppy!

The only downside I had this weekend was watching a woman react to her dog that was whining in it's crate.  She walked over and opened the door and smacked the dog and then grabbed it told it to shut up gave it another little smack and closed the door.  She didn't "hurt" her dog but she definately just added more stress and will likely just make her issue even worse.  I waited until she turned back towards me and saw that I had seen her and gave her a super disgusted look and shook my head at her.  I doubt that will have any effect but hopefully she was at least embarrassed.

We also got to meet some more Vizsla relatives this weekend at the seminar.  Stella is on the far right.  The pup far left is two days older than Stella.  The other pup is approx 3.5 months and his momma is seven.  All dogs are descendants of Stella's maternal grandfather Sasha.   They all had a great time playing at lunch on sunday.


  1. Sounds like you made it a super positive experience for your girl. Nice job.
    Did they give you tips on how to let her know when you are doing obedience and when you are doing conformation?

    Sorry about that other woman, I hate to see stuff like that, and it seems like there is always ONE at every dog event. Good for you for giving her the old stink eye!

    1. Wow, just figured out how to reply to comments :o).

      They didn't give any specific tips on how to let her know the difference but as she began to understand what I wanted I could then put the behaviour on cue. I think as I work it a bit more she will figure it out. The hand position is very different from a heel command so that helps too.

  2. So what did you learn at your seminar? :)

    Donna, I find my dogs differentiate sports quite easily. For one, they're on a 'show lead' for showing and I'm wearing fancy clothes. ;) Very different for them, plus the environment is pretty clear. (Dog shows are noisy! Dog trials are quiet, comparatively.)

    1. I agree that she will be able to figure it out as we progress. We worked primarily on teaching the dog how to stack after various moves (gaiting, about turn, down & back etc.). The focus was on making it fun so the dog is comfortable and happy to be working. Their theory is that happy sparkle will often be the difference in placements. There was also a section on conditioning.