Thursday, June 21, 2012

Conformation Class with Pepper

Min-E-Me wins Reserve Winner's Bitch,
6-9 month puppy class,
on June 16, 2012
Tuesday night I took Pepper to his, and my, first conformation class ever, encouraged by cousin Lois who just showed Pepper's half sister, Min-E-Me, and won "Reserve Winner's Bitch" in the 6-9 month puppy class.  The show was in Florida, June 16, the puppy is 7 months old.

We were the only team that showed up for Netta's class so we got a private lesson.  There's more to this conformation stuff than meets the eye. 
  • Walking a puppy on leash with their head held high and a few feet out from the handler, not sniffing the ground, wabbling too and fro, or looking all around,
  • keeping a steady trot that shows off the dog's structure, in a circle and also in a straight line,
  • dog standing frontways to the judge,
  • having an "interesting expression on command",
  • stacking on the table,
  • standing for exam,
  • not minding having their teeth and body examined by a total stranger,
  • having the dog interested in the bait, but not lunging for it.
That's a lot to train for.  So our first lesson I pretty much got exposed to the lay of the land, but no information on how to train these skills.  My homework is to work on a good stack, which is "front feet near the edge of the table, shoulders straight, and back feet placed so the rear pasterns are perpendicular to the table, pretty much as in the photo above.

I also got a few important pointers on how to behave at a show:
  • Get to the ring early and watch how the previous dogs are asked to move around the ring by your judge.  Then when it's your turn you can concentrate more on your dog than ciphering the judge's instructions.
  • Make sure the dog is freshly washed and well groomed.
  • Handlers are often seen holding the dog's tail in the UP position BECAUSE even breeds who usually carry their tails UP will tend to drop their tails when approached by a stranger or even just ill at ease at a show.
  • Get the recommended thinnest possible white show leash for Pepper, so it won't show up in his white neck hair.
There are tricks to every trade!   

Pepper was feisty, as usual, concerned almost entirely with smelling, exploring the parking lot, and getting his chicken gizzard treats.  In other words -- all over the place and pulling hard on his leash.  Netta remarked she wished she had a video camera to film her pupils so we could see our gait, I whipped my brand new 4GS iPhone out from my pocket, and she took my first video on that phone.  Learning to point and shoot with an iPhone takes some getting used to, and all but one position requires rotating in Windows Live Movie Maker, but here's the little snippet she got.

Being as Pepper is trained to sit when I quit walking, I was pleased how quickly he caught on to remain standing, though I couldn't get him to face the judge rather than me.

When I got home, all the dogs were psyched.  They don't like being left behind while I take Pepper places.  Pepper and Lucky began a friendly tug of war, with Maxie watching on.  This went on about 5 minutes before I decided to video that, too.  John held the camera.  We are always amazed at the way Lucky regulates her tugging to suit her playmate (she's very strong and can tug your arm off, shake you up and drag you across the room), and the way she handed the toy off to Pepper time after time.  It was in a darkened living room, so we got to test the flash feature on the new iPhone.  It lit the room moderately well but made the dogs' eyes look like Tasmanian Devils.  Even so, the video is an interesting study of cooperative dog behavior (sharing a toy), and self-regulating behavior, so I'm sharing it below.

Upwards and onward,

1 comment:

Nicole said...

this is so cool, confo is so different!
what do you mean interesting expression on command?
this is so interesting!