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Show Handling/Training Your New Puppy

Training Your Puppy for Conformation Shows
By Shirley Bell, Bellcrest Boxers Perm Reg'd

Lesson 4- 'Baiting'

Baiting while stacked. This differs from Free baiting.

To teach your pup to bait while stacked choose a word and use the same word each time.

Your mirror will help you teach this to your dog and show you what both you and your dog look like while baiting.

First lets understand why we bait a dog after we have hand stacked them. This isn't necessary for many breeds that are shown by freebaiting, but for some breeds, where competition is pretty stiff, this exercise, if taught correctly, can be what give you the winning edge. You want your dog to look his/her very best at exactly the moment that the judge looks at him. You want your dog to show his best features, making the most of the good features he has while minimizing where he is lacking.

When I start this with a young dog, I use stacking blocks. These can be seen at or you can make your own. Some people even use 4 cans of vegetables as stacking blocks. Whatever works for you and your dog! It is possible to teach this without using stacking blocks, but it takes longer and is more difficult to get the message across to the dog. Many pups want to lean forward, which creates a slope to the topline and does funny things to the rear angles. This is NOT what you want. Watch your mirror!

With Mr. Puppy on the stacking blocks, practice what you have learned up to now. Stack the pup, placing each leg as taught in prior lessons. Go slowly and smoothly, from one leg to the next, maintaining head control at all times. Perhaps we need a section on 'head control'? Let me know if you don't understand what this is.

Once puppy is stacked, slowly lift his/her head and THEN bring the collar up to the under the ears position. Then and only then do you hold the collar. You do NOT hold the puppy's head up with the collar while stacking him/her. By doing this you will create a dog that leans into the collar and looks awful while doing so.

Now, puppy is all together, standing nicely on the blocks in the correct position for his/her breed with head held high and collar in position. Tail up too if that is required in your breed. Tickle under tail and say "tail up" while placing it in the proper position.

We are now ready to bait this puppy. What you are attempting to do is use the bait to bring the pup up on his toes and arch his neck without losing the proper stack. Not an easy task. And on top of this, we want you to do all this and make it look easy and natural. Ready?

From the non show side towards the front of the dog......I put my left hand on the pup's chest, about where the breast bone is to keep them from leaning. I then use the word 'show', holding the liver in my right hand with the liver slightly in front of the nose, away from the body in line with the dogs nose.

In the beginning, I have to keep going back and lifting the pups head, bringing the collar up and showing the bait at nose level. They are over excited at this point. You do not want to discourage this, just tone it down slightly <grin>. Keep training sessions short and fun.

In time, I hold the bait further away from the pup, and if he tries to lean, I push on his chest. He will eventually understand that you want him to stay in position and stretch his neck. This will come, be patient.

It won't take long, you will be able to say what ever word you are using for this exercise and your pup will stand up on his toes and stretch his neck looking for that bait. Once he understands that you want him to remain standing/stacked while receiving his 'treat' then you can work at getting him to arch his neck at the appropriate time (when the judge is trying to make up his mind between your dog and another dog)

Now you should be able to go back to stacking your pup.....bringing the collar up, and then baiting your dog....all in one smooth easy step.

Take your bait from your pocket while holding your dog in position, with bait in your right hand and left hand holding the collar, bait your dog. Where you hold the liver will determine how your dog looks. How he arches his neck and how he concentrates on that bait.

Your pup has learned to stay in a prior lesson so this should be easy. He should be concentrating on that bait and doing exatcly what you want.

Once your dog is steady at this and understands totally what is expected, try dropping the collar and see what happens.......he should still be so engrossed in the bait that he has no idea that you have released his collar. He will still be in perfect position, up on his toes and arching his neck.

In the beginning, don't make him stand there too long. Release him by praising him and using a silly voice, clapping and laughing. Make it lots of fun. Make it a big game. He will then not only anticipate the bait, but will anticipate being released and played with by someone he!!

When you are sure that you pup knows what is expected. Try stacking the pup and baiting him on the ground as well as on the stacking blocks.

One more not continually move the bait while holding it in front of your dog. Too many novice handlers have the poor dog jecking his head up and down following that piece of bait. Never say no during this exercise. If you get frustrated Quit!! Try it again another day. Do not show displeasure to your pup at anytime during show training. This should be fun, fun, fun!! Never work!

Handling should be done smoothly. The handler should not be obvious, he/she is there to present the dog. The dog is the one that should stand out, not the handler.

If you have questions or need clarification on any of the above, please contact me at Shirley Bell

. Handling Introduction
Lesson 1 - Watch Me
Lesson 2 - Stand
Lesson 3 - Stay
Lesson 4 - Baiting (while stacked)
Lesson 5 - Free Baiting
Lesson 6 - Straight Down & Back
Lesson 7 - Movement
Lesson 8- Self Stacking
Lesson 9 - Waiting Game
Lesson 10 - Leash Training

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