Handler Classes

Training and behavior topics, guidelines, and tips for Chow Chows.

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Handler Classes

Postby Cindy J » Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:01 am

Chance, now 13 weeks old, and I went to our first conformation class last night. We have a really great instructor who took the time to explain many things to us. One on one time, showing me how to line him up, correct stance, ... we are now working on getting him to remain standing when I back away from him a step or two. He wants to move with me.

I understand that distraction are normal, but OH MY... his beautiful little puppy mind wanted to watch everything around us. (and pick up fluff from the floor) He is so much better about being touched all over, but we need to work on other people opening his mouth. He will let me do it briefly, but clinches his teeth tight when others attempt and shakes his head and backs away.

5 more classes before his first Pre-puppy show. This should be interesting (and hopefully a lot of fun). He is such a ham :mrgreen:
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Re: Handler Classes

Postby Rory's Dad » Wed Mar 26, 2014 6:50 pm

Good luck...getting your chow used to strangers and handling is a difficult but important task. Let us know how he progresses, and remember, pictures...

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Re: Handler Classes

Postby Cindy J » Wed Apr 02, 2014 4:20 am

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Chance ~ 14 weeks. Snapped this picture before heading to class last night. Week two we had a bit more focus. He self stacks fairly well which is good because when I move his feet he thinks it is a game and tries to grab my hand. (We are walking a line between keeping it fun and letting him know that he cannot mouth me.) Tons of praise for getting it right and treats handed out when he holds position. Right now I am only asking him to hold position for short periods ... lengthening the time gradually.

He was much better about letting the instructor examine his teeth, but that too needs more work. He has come a long way in the past few weeks. BUT... we have so many rough edges. :mrgreen: Thankfully we are enjoying classes and will probably continue them as long as we are in the ring together.

Tonight I am hoping to catch some down time so that I can tidy up his feet. They are getting a bit scraggly.
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Re: Handler Classes

Postby Lynxlover » Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:25 pm

Cute puppy! What kennel is he from?

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Re: Handler Classes

Postby Cindy J » Thu Apr 03, 2014 3:13 am

Dreamland's Intrepid Spirit ~ aka "Chance" is from Dreamland Kennel in Lubbock, TX. Which is perfect for us because we already speak Texan. :D (a silly reference to Ledy speaking Russian) We are having a blast with this little guy. Although we have had several chows over the years, this is the first time that we did our homework and found a reputable breeder.

His Dam: Ch Dreamland's American Spirit O'Poling
His Sire: CH Sunburst's Kozmic Blues
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Re: Handler Classes

Postby Rory's Dad » Fri Apr 04, 2014 6:27 pm

Very handsome pup, he should show well.

Rory is my male, 2 and a half years old. He has been shown since 6 months. Stick with it unless he really objects to the regimen. Rory showed well as a pup, but really took off after about a year. He really finds a 'zone' now and its fun to watch. We are in a tough area for chows, with not a lot of them involved in shows, particularly males, so finishing him has been difficult through no fault of his own. He only needs a Major to finish and is 'pointed out'.

It sounds like Chance is primarily a pet with show aspirations. If that's the case, i have a couple recommendations that you may want to consider if not already mentioned in the training class. Use the slip lead/show leash only in the ring or when practicing. Different collar type for regular walks or trips outside for 'business'. My dogs use a compression collar and flexi lead for walks, and collar/trolley run for regular trips outside. The slip lead is only used for shows or practice. Sounds silly, but they learn the difference and anticipate how to act.

Try to determine how he shows best. Chows are afforded a ramp option at shows, but it is at the judges discretion. My male shows WAY better on the ramp. I think it has to do with the judges leaning over him more if he is on the ground. Different dogs have different personalities and preferences, and you may not be given a choice, but you can request the ramp if it suits Chance better. You may not always get it though.

Prepare for outdoor shows if they happen in your area. Very different setting for your dog with the grassy smells, wind blown fried dough aromas, and the allure of new areas to mark. Indoor shows are easy in comparison. Getting him used to being around other dogs is huge regardless of venue. The 1st time he encounters a female in season is always interesting.

And crating, make sure he is comfortable with crating. There will be down time and you don't want him stressed out waiting in a crate.

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Re: Handler Classes

Postby Cindy J » Sun May 04, 2014 2:37 pm

Handler classes are the best investment I could be making at this point! What I have learned so far was really helpful this weekend. Now that we have our first show under us, I have a better understanding of what areas we need work on.

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Day one focus was sharp and he glided around the ring like a puppy pro....

Image Best in Group and Best 4-6 Month Puppy in Show!

Today he was tired and was a little pill; sitting down and trying to chew on the lead while we walked around the ring. But over all, we are very happy with his attitude and presence in the ring. Although he took second in group, the judge told me after the fact that she was undecided which dog to put up. She said it boiled down to which puppy made the fewer mistakes. The French Bulldog that won was truly deserving. She was very pleased with Chance and stated that he seemed to float around the ring (except when he had had enough)

Image He is now enjoying splashing in his water bowl and stretching out on the deck...

All in all, a very fun weekend.
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Re: Handler Classes

Postby 612guy » Sun May 04, 2014 7:21 pm

Great job at the show and continuing going to handling classes. Just remember to walk not run because chows are different than other dogs because they have a stilted gait. Try to keep a even pressure on his lead and not to yank on the it because it will mess up his movement. If he doesn't want to go up the ramp at a upcoming show you can just lift him on it without penalty . Your hard work will pay off as he gets older, so keep it up.

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Re: Handler Classes

Postby Rory's Dad » Mon May 05, 2014 6:34 pm

Congratulations to you and Chance. Very nice results for such a young pup. I have similar problems with focus on my female after the 2nd or so day. She actually did very well with us last time out. Not sure whether is was because she has matured a bit or whether is was due to us Owner Handling her, but over all we were pleased.

Chance looks great. Nice job baiting for attention in the posted photo. Clearly the classes are helping both of you. Keep us posted, i think he has a nice future ahead.

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Re: Handler Classes

Postby Cindy J » Tue May 06, 2014 6:28 pm

Thanks for the tips. Chance seems to do better on the table than on the ground for the examination. He is less fidgety and I have more control up on the table. Perhaps this is because that is what we practice the most. He doesn't have a problem with the ramp, but one judge wanted to look him over on the ground.

I messed up on day two and started walking as the judge was telling me which direction she wanted me to go. This will take practice because I did not want her to have to repeat herself.... She called me back and told me that I needed to wait for her FULL instruction. :oops: More classes and more shows will help us gain confidence in the ring.

I honestly thought when the first judge sent me to the corner, she was dismissing me. I looked over in confusion to a mentor who was nearly bursting with a giant grin. (and I was thinking to myself that it wasn't very cool of her to grin when we were singled out and sent away) :mrgreen:
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Re: Handler Classes

Postby Rory's Dad » Fri May 09, 2014 5:39 pm

Don't read too much into it. Rory is almost 3 years old and has had a pro handler for all but his last show. I had an emergency situation where it was a Club sponsored event (i am on the board), and my regular handler had a conflict. My dogs HAD to show. Day 1, i had the number placard on the wrong arm. Day 2, Amber was in heat and i had Rory in the wait area right next to her.

Most of the better judges will recognize a new handler and shouldn't let it effect the dog. Naturally stacking and pace will be effected to a degree, but they really should be judging the quality of the dog and not the handler. Doesnt always happen, but remember, you have the ring. If the instruction is not clear or the dogs pace is not to your likely, let the judge know you would like to try it again. Most will allow it. Scheduling allows you about 2 minutes for the down and back and for inspection. Don't feel rushed if you are in that time limit.

Chance looks like he is getting it. After a bit he will lead you until you are comfortable...Love our smart dogs...try being a newbie with a bulldog or a boston terrier.

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Re: Handler Classes

Postby Cindy J » Wed Jun 04, 2014 4:05 am

The past two weeks at classes I noticed a pattern that I need some pointers on breaking.

When the judge sends us across the ring, Chance is great... full of enthusiasm. However, when we turn to walk back he dawdles, tries to play with the lead, grab my pant leg, leaps... basically acts like he has had enough.

I can turn and walk him back away and he walks beautifully.... turn and walk back and he is a mess.

Is this a phase? Right now I am stopping, regaining focus and then continuing back to the judge. Any tips on regaining an enthusiastic walk back towards the judge? I really don't want this to become his "normal" ...

We do not have an issue when walking around the perimeter.
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Re: Handler Classes

Postby maikinda » Thu Jun 05, 2014 8:58 pm

Your puppy is looking great, he seems to be doing great in his handling class. When I was showing I found it helpful to watch my judge as she was doing some of her other breeds before I showed. It gave me an idea of how she was with the dogs and the ring patterns she used. You still have to really listen to instructions, you never know when they change things. Its gets easier when you are not the first class in the ring. Then you just watch what she is having them do.

Good luck, have fun!

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Re: Handler Classes

Postby Cindy J » Sat Jun 07, 2014 4:38 am

Thank you for the encouragement. Yesterday we entered a B match in Lake Charles, LA. Chance did really well walking around the ring, walking away and back towards the judge. This time he was apprehensive about his teeth.

Before the match I met with a few of the chow chow people who were showing, including the gentleman who's dog had just won BoB. They were so good about giving me tips on teeth. I now have some better direction to practice with. *side note to myself... do not attempt to implement newly learned techniques in the ring without TONS of practice* :shock: This may have added to Chance's apprehension. I could show the teeth, but could not show the bite because he kept shaking his head and backing up.

Through all of this he managed to win group! Not bad considering it got over late and he was tired and hungry. He slept really well last night :mrgreen:

Thankfully, I was given great advice and have the tools to practice correctly. I am hoping we can iron this out before the Dallas show on the 4-6th of July. This will be his first official show.
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Re: Handler Classes

Postby 612guy » Sun Jun 08, 2014 8:03 pm

I've seen my share of chow puppies in the show ring and most have issues. So don't be so hard on yourself but practice as much as you can. You will learn what you have to work on each time you go in the ring. I showed Brutus both days this weekend and we weren't really prepared because it was our first outdoor show and we didn't practice in the grass. The problem with grass rings is they are full of scents and Brutus head was down smelling instead of up. Plus it rain all day Saturday so the grass was wet and Brutus didn't like that so much. I haven't shown him for 18 months so he could grow up and despite not doing a very good job as the handler he got a point each day. Next show in 2 weeks so hopefully we both can show better. Below is a picture of his drooling waiting for a treat, very food driven.

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Re: Handler Classes

Postby Cindy J » Mon Jun 09, 2014 9:39 am

Brutus is a very nice looking boy! Congrats on adding points both days!

I don't think it would be easy to show on grass. Chance is not overly fond of walking on wet grass either. Is that a typical chow thing? It is kind of funny because he will walk out on the lawn in torrential downpours to "pee" ... but I fight with him to walk across the yard after the sprinklers have been running if he doesn't have to potty. I would be so worried that he would begin peeing when I ask him to stand for long periods of time on grass. :shock:

Do you ever keep a tissue in your pocket for drool? I thought about it Friday night as Chance was drooling. Instead I wiped his mouth with my hand and wiped my hand on the back of my skirt. (I figured the judge wouldn't be walking behind me at that point) :D

A note for others who are thinking about showing.... I have found the chow chow people who are ringside are VERY VERY helpful, without the competitive snobbery that I found while showing rottweilers. I am getting tons of tips and phone numbers and contacts for additional help. It has been wonderful so far.
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Re: Handler Classes

Postby Rory's Dad » Mon Jun 09, 2014 6:31 pm

612 got the double whammy with Brutus being out for a while...as he said outdoor shows are a very different event for our chows, males in particular. The scents are distracting. We just finished a 2 day set and have a 4 day outdoor set on the schedule. Since Rory only needs a Major, we will wait to see if the numbers needed are likely, but he has done well with them recently only through practice. We did a bunch of outdoor shows with no points just to get him accustomed to it. You would be amazed what they pick up. Neither of you would run into this as you both Owner-Handle, but last year Rory caught scent of his family when the wind shifted. We were at least 100 yds away. He went to head whipping and air sniffing and our handler had to really work to get his focus back. At another show there was one corner of the ring that must have been marked or brushed by an in-heat female. Every dog stopped at that corner and had trouble turning back to the judge.

Rain or even wet grass if even worse. Rory hates the rain (Amber could care less, she's a slob drinker and is wet in the chin/chest anyway). He doesnt want his paws wet. Such a prima donna. We make fun of him, but it doesnt matter. Rory will actually stay inside and avoid the rain for days on end if we get a rainy spell.

If chance is a drooler (as is Rory since his tongue always hangs out when he's enjoying himself), you can do the discreet wipe of tuck away a small towel. Especially useful for those outdoor rain events, you can use it to clean up the belly area real quick as well.

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Re: Handler Classes

Postby Cindy J » Tue Jun 10, 2014 9:57 am

So many factors... I had not even considered how crazy a show would be if an intact female was nearby. :shock:

We are attending a different handler class tonight. Chance is seeing the same people and getting very little hands on from different people. He is very comfortable with the same 5-6 people going over him. I was told that this new class has the various attendees going over each other's dogs. That is what I need. 4-5 different people each week checking his bite and testicles.

I will continue to handle Chance myself for the majority of the shows, but any time my schedule coincides with the breeder's schedule then I am going to gracefully hand over the lead to Michael. It will be nice to sit on the sidelines and watch a pro walk him through. I learned from past episodes with another dog that I need to be completely out of view/scent when Chance is being shown by another handler.

How did your weekend go with Rory? You should think about coming to Houston for the http://houstondogshows.com/ :D July 16-20th. A delightfully warm time to be in Texas!
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Re: Handler Classes

Postby 612guy » Fri Jun 13, 2014 4:46 am

I do carry a small towel with me into the ring because Brutus's mouth gets wet because he loves the bait so much. One time the judge hands got wet from checking his bite and I won't let that happen again. He wasn't happy about it at all.

I can see you letting Micael or anyone from his kennel handle Chance if you are at the same show. My wife and I went to the Chow Nationals this year and met Michael and his wife. They are truly some of the nicest people and so good at handling dogs in the ring.

You never know how a chow pup will turn out when they grow up. But if you want to show them you have to start when they are young . But the rewards are worth it. Below is Brutus Best Of Breed from last weekend. I"ll continue to try to finish him but if he doesn't we've had the greatest time ever.


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Re: Handler Classes

Postby Rory's Dad » Sat Jun 14, 2014 7:30 pm

Cindy, yes it can be crazy. At almost any given show you will find an intact female in season. That can effect the males for sure. Fortunately most of the dogs at the shows have been around it for a while and take it in stride. They get a bit worked up, but in our case Rory only has eyes for Amber (we don't tell him it's not going to happen), but mostly behave.

I think the level of Chow owner competiveness is regional. We have had a huge issue with that here in the NE area, but we seem to have found a way to resolve it.

Definitely a good idea to vary inspections. The more comfortable he is the better obviously. If it were only someone he was familiar with, then shows wouldn't go so well. Also nice to have a 'relief driver'. Again, its about having Chance comfortable regardless of the personel involved.

Ah, yes, and our last show...kind of a disaster actually...our breeder didnt show and broke the major so my handler pulled Rory, which made sense on a $ basis. But then a class bitch beat a special and that recreated a major for the crossover points and Rory could have gotten the pts he needed. Go figure.

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Re: Handler Classes

Postby Cindy J » Sun Jun 29, 2014 9:11 am

Debating 4-6th of July in Dallas. Chance is entered and looks great. The problem is, I am handling him and was in an accident last week. I am fine now, but have a big black eye. I am thinking this would be a huge distraction in the ring...
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Re: Handler Classes

Postby Rory's Dad » Sun Jun 29, 2014 6:53 pm

Glad to hear you are OK.

I wouldn't worry about it though. Judging is on the dog and not you (theoretically anyway). As long as you can stack and pace, Chance should be fine.

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Re: Handler Classes

Postby Cindy J » Wed Jul 02, 2014 4:55 am

I have decided to go ahead and show him one day in Dallas... keeping it casual and fun.

This is his first official show now that he is 6 months old. We are not staying for the Sunday show because there are only two chows entered. Chance and a female... As it is, there are only five chows entered in the Saturday show. I can see where getting majors will be a great deal of planning and money. But we are enjoying the journey.
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Re: Handler Classes

Postby Cindy J » Sat Jul 05, 2014 6:16 pm

I almost pulled him from the Dallas show. We got there Friday and I took him in to acclimate him to the building. He was great; very inquisitive... enjoying seeing all the people and dogs. THEN they began announcing over the loud speaker. That was completely new for him and he did his best to bolt for the door. He refused to budge from the middle of the aisle. I had to stand there and offer him chicken, which helped somewhat. I grabbed a chair and sat down beside him and pretty much ignored him for 10-15 minutes.

We finally made it back out of the building. This morning I had to physically carry him through the door because he refused to walk in. I sat ringside with him until time to enter the ring. He was hesitant at first and then opened up completely. He was great at showing his bite and teeth... then pranced up to the corner of the ring and back to the judge. He stood very confident for the exam.

I cannot even explain how excited I was when the judge told me that he won BoB!

I can see that I need to get him around more loud noises... Maybe PetSmart will help us by talking over the intercom as we walk around the store.

Question: Only three chows showed up today. Chance and two older males (not open class... but I cannot remember what their classification was... crazy day) One was excused from the ring, leaving only Chance and the other male. Did Chance earn a point? I can find all types of explanations for points with multiple entries, but not for two. Even if he did not earn a point, we learned a great deal today. And Chance made a ton of new friends.
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Re: Handler Classes

Postby 612guy » Sun Jul 06, 2014 8:46 am

First off congrats going bob. Winning alway feel pretty awesome but when you don't expect it feels like your on a cloud.

I looked at the breed counts for you show last week and if I looked at the right show in Dallas the two other males where entered in the best of breed group. So they had their CH already. If that was the case then you did earn your first point and would of earned 2 if the other one wasn't excused and you went bob. Anytime you win over a male or female that are champions they count for points totals. It is confusing but so are crossover points at first but it's just part of the learning curve everyone goes through.

Did you get a winning photo? Love to see it if you want to share.

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