There's nothing more fun for the spectators at a trial than to watch the 4-6 month old puppies jumping around, flipping over and balking at the end of the lead in their classes.  There's nothing more frustrating than to try to show a 4-6 month old puppy that won't lead, track straight or stand still while being shown.  You can have an awesome puppy, but if the judge can't evaluate the correctness of his structure or the beauty of his movement, then sometimes the lesser quality puppy will be put ahead of you, just because your competitor was able to get their puppy shown properly.  Getting puppies to show properly starts long before the day of the show.
        Standing Still:  Bring the puppies in the kitchen when you are cooking or while a meal is being prepared. Use portable gates in your kitchen to confine the puppies from the carpeted area of the house. The smell of food cooking really gets their attention.  Every once in a while, while you are cooking/preparing, call them by name (this will help them recognize their names, get immediate attention, and brighten their faces with anticipation) and give them a treat.  After a couple of times doing this you will find they are standing close to you most of the time & wagging their tails.  If your puppy sits down or stands too close to you, get him use to you taking your foot to either push them back away from you, or lifting them into a standing position, then give them a treat.
After your puppy responds to his name, don't give him a treat if he is sitting down, standing too close to you, twisting around, or reared up on something.  They must stand still to get a treat.  After a day or two of this, start requiring them to stand still longer periods of time before they get their treat.  STANDING STILL MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
        Collar breaking:  The best way to get a puppy use to a collar and being restricted on a leash is to tie them to a liberty leash.  A liberty leash looks like a fishing pole.  It has a metal stake that you drive into the ground.  A fiberglass pole, which has a cable run through it that you hook a dog to, attaches to the stake.  What makes this such a great tool is that it gives when pulled on, so the puppy can't hit the end of it very hard.  Leave him tied to it until he submits to the pressure, usually not more than 30 minutes.  Reward him, the first time, as soon as he submits by calling him to you & unhooking him.  Next time, leave him a little longer.  It won't be long until he will accept being restricted.  COLLAR BREAKING MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
        Leading:  Now that your puppy is standing still and accepting being restricted, it's time to teach him to lead happily.  Put the collar & lead on your puppy that you plan on showing him in.  Put his breakfast / dinner in your right pocket (provided you feed dry dog food - if not use dog biscuits as replacements for his meal while training).  Put your puppy on your left side and tug lightly while calling his name. Your puppy will probably walk with you a little to start, but if he balks just throw 1 bite far in front of him on the ground.  Walk with him as he goes forward to pick up his reward.  Try and walk him forward again, and repeat the same steps with the bites of food.  NEVER drag your puppy.  This will make leading a very unpleasant experience for him and you want him to be happy and wagging his tail in the show ring.  While walking your puppy, stop sometimes, make him stand still and hand him a bite.  Do not drop the bite on the ground close to you because this will get him standing too close to you, which makes his head look straight up at you.   This angle of his head makes the slant in his shoulder look straight instead of laid back.  If you don't want to hand the bite to him from your hand, then throw it behind him so he has to go away from you to pick it up.  LEADING MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
        Show handling:  The judges must handle your puppy while examining him.  Prepare him for this by getting someone to kneel down in front of him while you lead your puppy to him.  If he shows any reluctance in approaching that person, have them extend a hand out to the puppy with a treat in it.  Have the pretend judge check his teeth, have the judge put his left hand under the pups jaws and his right hand around the pups hind quarter (with tail up) to look at him squared up, then put both hands around the pups chest to check for size & flexibility.  It will also help to have different friends hold and love on your puppy, so he will learn that strangers are OK.  The more you socialize your puppy the sooner he will accept this handling with a wagging tail.  SHOW HANDLING MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
       Travel:   I recommend feeding your puppy an extra amount the night before his first trip in a car and not feeding him the morning of the trip.  If  the trip is going to be at night, then feed him extra in the morning and don't feed him the evening meal prior to the trip. Don't feed him while on the road.  If your trip is going to take more than 1 day, see your veterinarian and they can provide you with ace-promazine, which will reduce his urge to vomit.  Stopping every 3-4 hours to let your puppy potty and get a drink is definitely recommended.  TRAVELING MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
        Show ring fright:  A puppies first time away from home can be a very frightening experience as well as the car trip to the trial.  Plus there are many things in a show ring that can frighten a puppy.  To lessen the stress & fright, be at the trial at least an hour before it begins.  Have your puppy collared & leashed and take him as well as a chair to the showing area.  Sit down with your puppy in your lap and relax.  The more you relax, the quicker your puppy will realize that all the noise and strange surrounding are OK.  When your puppy is trying to jump out of your arms to explore on his own, then walk him around.  Let him go anywhere he wants to go, except where you know would be trouble for him.  After he has relaxed then take him in the show ring and practice showing with his treats as rewards.  Again, DON'T DRAG your puppy, be patient.  If time is running short, then you just didn't get there in enough time to properly prepare him.  RELAXED PUPPY MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
        Showing your puppy:  When your class is called, you will enter the ring counter-clockwise.  Your puppy will be on your left side.  Make sure you don't let your puppy run up the rear of the puppy in front of him.  Walk briskly, but again don't drag your puppy.  If you need to use the treat method to keep him going forward, then do it, but don't disrupt the puppy in front of you.  The judge will watch the puppies track from the side during this entrance and circling of the ring.  You will then be asked to stop so the judge can start examining each puppy individually.  Unless your puppy is being examined or is  the next pup to be examined, don't try and show your puppy by making him be still.  Either pick him up, or kneel down and relax while playing with him.  Your puppy can feel if you are tense, so be sure and relax.  When it's your turn to walk your puppy to the judge, be sure and do just that!  (Your puppy walks to the judge, NOT you - this is a mistake I see more people make than any other error in showing).  If your puppy pulls away from the judge, don't drag him to the judge, pick him up and hand him to the judge.  NEVER ALLOW THE JUDGE TO DRAG THE PUPPY TO HIM!  The majority of judges don't want to drag the puppy to them, but if you don't assist them, then what other choice do they have.  After the judge examines the puppy, they will ask you to track him away and back to the line.  Make sure you track the PUPPY away from the judge, not yourself.  Keep an eye on the judge as they watch the puppy.  Sometimes they like to see the puppy poise before you track back to the line and sometimes they will wait until you reach the line.  So, be observant.  If you have several more puppies behind you to be evaluated, then relax with your puppy until the judge is ready to look at all the dogs around the ring again.  Sometimes they will have you circle the ring again.  Glance at the judge periodically in case she wants you to pull into the middle.  If you get pulled in, relax again until she gets through pulling in her six placings.  This is where the final decision is made, so make sure you have your puppy clear of the other puppies and handlers and do what is necessary to get your puppies attention.  Once again make showing fun for your puppy.  This could make or break him for future showing.  It doesn't matter whether you get placed or gaited, if you love your puppy & he gave you his all, then that's all that should matter.  If he didn't, then practice until the two of you get it down pat.  Remember, this day was this judges opinion.  Tomorrow can be and probably will be different.  The last step in showing and the most important is, when you walk out of that ring, whether you are in the ribbons or not, you should congratulate your competitors.  A smile and a congratulations will make you a better and happier person.  Do it for yourself, if you have a problem doing it for others.  SHOWING MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
        Thank you Lord for bringing these wonderful little creatures into our lives

Cheryl Hart

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