Before you exhibit your dog any time, consider this. The judge will spend approximately 2.5 minutes assessing your dog during the individual. Not very long to make a good first impression but an eternity if your dog misbehaves. Correct ring training is essential, but in many cases today, it is rather lacking.

I am not suggesting that a puppy should behave immaculately, mine never do and even though they will show their teeth with pleasure at home, once in the ring the mouth is clamped shut and will not be opened, not for me, not for the handler and worse still, not for the judge.

Annoying enough with a pup but when a dog is 2 years or more the last you need is for the judge to spend 2 minutes trying to check the teeth and 0.5 minutes on everything else. Solution? Train your dog. 5 minutes a day is better than none.



Again we all feel extremely lucky if our pups keeps still for more than 10 seconds, this is normal. However, in an adult it is not. He should be able to stand still long enough for the judge to assess him and take notes. The more he fidgets, the longer it takes, the less the judge sees or the more he misses. Your dog is now at a disadvantage, the judge cannot see that perfect topline, that beautiful front is hidden by the handler keeping his hand on the chest in an attempt to control the dog and keep him still. Time up and all the judge could see was 2 ears, 4 legs and a tail. That is your fault, not the handler's, his job is to handle not train the dog in the ring. And the judge? Well, he can only assess what is presented before him.

Solution? Train your dog. Let the dog see you, call his *name and keep his attention.

(*Of course you can only do this at home or in training classes because it is forbidden under KC rules to do so at shows!)



And not at 90mph, as this is not a race, it is not about who can get from A to B in the quickest time possible, 0-90 in 3 seconds flat? Wonderful, but what does the dog look like? You should walk and gait at the pace that suits your dog best. Never mind what you look like, the judge is not looking at you,(I'll change that to "should not be looking at you"), but assessing the dog in movement, so if the dog looks and moves well that is all that matters.

Bunny hopping looks best when performed by rabbits and should be corrected during training, as should ambling. A dog that is digging in too much and scrambling is hardly gaiting to the standard, which says "the gait should be supple, smooth and long reaching, carrying the dog with the minimum of up and down movement...."

Solution? Train your dog.



This is where a lot of people go deaf. The judge says "Walk please" and off they go. The handler in 2nd place decides he should be in 1st place and over runs, the 1st place handler goes a little faster to catch up, the 3rd joins in and in 5 seconds the whole class is gaiting. The judge again requests you to walk. The 1st place handler comes to a halt, the 2nd and subsequent handlers go into domino effect, crashing into one another and the whole class comes to a standstill. Next the judge requests you to gait. The 1st place handler decides to walk. The ring is large but everyone is bunched up together in anticipation of the spirit! Lets Go! Lets Go!...and they're off.

The 1st place handler's gone red with exertion of trying to keep up, never mind over running. The judge is confused, he thought he was judging a dog show, this is like a grand prix, everyone desperate to overtake everyone else and the ring is getting smaller. But the dogs are having a wonderful time with half of them slipping their collars and joining their owners outside the ring. It is at times like these when the well trained but not so well constructed dog could end up leading the class over better but untrained dogs purely on performance.

Solution? - Train your dog.


We in the UK have some very beautiful German Shepherd Dogs that could compete with the best in the world. It is we, the owners, who let them down with incorrect training or none at all. We also have some first class handlers but they cannot work miracles, their job is to take the dog into the ring and present the best possible individual to the judge. The rest is up to you.

As a final note, in all the times I have judged male dogs, I have never yet had trouble checking the other end to the mouth!

Could this be a male thing?!!

This has been reproduced by the kind permission of:

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Glynis Appleby