I was very fortunate to spend the past few days in the USA at Montgomery Weekend, a series of 4 dog shows which are considered THE terrier speciality shows in the USA.
My purpose of this visit was to surround myself with terriers, learn more about the USA way of showing and generally to have fun with likeminded people, picking up some tips here and there.
I was absolutely honoured, during my few days there, to be asked to handle (take the dog in the ring) two young pups on their first shows.
Now, this is a big deal. Why? Because dog handling is a big business in the States. People pay thousands of dollars for a professional handler to show their dogs. The dogs themselves develop a deep bond with their handler and will respond to the handler’s training.
These were young pups. One was 9 months, the other was 6 months. It itself, this is a challenge – to get any puppy to behave in a new exciting space; but to also respond to a brand new person is an extra challenge!
I put my Terrierist techniques straight to work. For an hour before our ring time, I worked one-to-one with the pups individually, gaining their trust with fun games and letting them learn that I was the most exciting person in that venue.
I made sure they got used to me touching their body all over, particularly the lower leg and face – as this is where they will get handled the most.
It paid off. Both pups (one who had been a nightmare for its owner the day before) responded beautifully to my handling, one coming first and one coming second on different days.