by Tayla Wright
Hi all! As everyone knows there are a few big junior handler shows coming up including the state finals that are just around the corner in July. I thought for this month’s article a few more tips that I have found useful over the years could also be useful to many other young handlers. I have decided to mainly focus on how to perfect out and backs and triangles this month. With big events coming up you want to be at your very best and every little detail can make the difference between first, second and third.
One of the most important tasks I see a lot of handlers not doing correctly is not placing the dog in front of the judge before they attempt a triangle or an out and back. It is so important that before completing the instructions given to you that you place the dog directly in front of the judge. After being assessed by the judge at the table and given instructions, move the dog in front of the judge. This is the point you want to start from no matter what you are asked to do. Not doing this makes the task look very rushed and unprepared and in a lot of cases the triangles and out and backs are not very straight and clean. You want to have straight and precise lines. If you line the dog up in front of the judge before completing in the task you are more likely to achieve those straight lines.
Whilst on the topic of straight lines, when performing an out and back it is important to look at which direction the judges body, in particular their feet, are pointing. Whichever way the judge is facing is the way you want to complete your out and back or triangle. For example if the judges feet are pointing towards the corner of the ring then that’s where you will go or if they are facing straight ahead you would also go to that point. Also before taking off, pick a point in the direction you will be going in and continue to look at the point. The object you look at could be a chair, a person, a table, anything in that direct line you can focus on and run/ walk towards. This will help to achieve much straighter lines and be more precise in where you are going.
I have noticed that a lot of handlers when moving the dog around the ring, forget to look either at their dog or back at the judge. This is so important! When I first began handling I was taught a very crucial and important tip that I still use even in the all breeds ring. I always remember that whenever I am moving the dog I need to look in three places:
1. Look at the dog to make sure they are moving at the correct pace/speed
2. Look at where you are going
3. Look at the judge
By following these three steps it minimises the chances of your dog breaking gate or pacing etc as you are constantly looking and ensuring they are moving to their correct speed. It also makes sure you are looking as to where you want to go, and finally by looking at the judge you are picking up whether they have moved and have now put you between the judge and dog. It also lets the judge know you are aware of everything around you. By doing something as simple as looking at the judge you are letting them know you are aware of their presence and are concentrating on making sure the dog looks its best and you know where you are going. It makes you look more confident as a handler and again will help you reduce the amount of mistakes that can occur such as getting between the dog and the judge.
I hope these few little tips have helped and will be something many other handlers find to be useful. Next month I will continue on with this theme and talk about perfecting triangles and out and backs as well as performing a double out and back.