Owner Handlers Stand Tall-Part 1


Owner Handlers Stand Tall

Part 1 of 3

Why your dog is not winning in the ring:  Is he show quality?

Here's some "tough love!" Owner handlers, stand tall and look no farther than your own actions and the quality of your dogs for your wins. If you want to be a successful owner handler, you’ll have to take personal responsibility for how you and your dog show up in the ring.

In the first of this three-part series, we ask you to take a cold hard look at your dog. Is your beloved dog competition worthy, according to the breed standard? The owner handlers of today are personally invested in their dogs, and the dog show world is taking notice that some of them are getting their share of the wins. We’re not just talking class; we’re talking group placements and BESTS. No longer the minority in the winner’s circle, these successful owner handlers have taken the time to figure out how to get the wins they deserve. Some of them are spurred onward and work harder to figure out what they need to do to improve their win rate. It’s not always that way, though.

The first reason some owner handlers are not winning in the ring, is the lack of a calculated evaluation of their own dog. They don’t know, or they are not willing to acknowledge, whether they have a dog with the qualities and potential to win. They don’t see their own dog as it really is; they simply don’t have a dog of the quality to win at the breed, group or best level. Even if a breed expert evaluates their dog and shares the dog’s faults, they don’t—or are not willing—to believe the expert.  

If your dog has faults, welcome to the club! So does every dog. Use that magnifying glass to figure out your dogs' virtues and show them to the judges.  Here's how to tell if your dog has more virtues than faults.

Dog Show Mentor Tip: Intricately know your breed standard.

  • Evaluate your dog—nose-to-tail—with the standard in one hand and a magnifying glass in the other.
  • Understand the language of your breed standard.
  • Are certain qualities career ending, or are they weighted?
  • Are certain qualities changeable?
  • Has the breed standard changed over time? Are you current?

Look at all the words, particularly the ones that make you feel queasy. If your eyes float over the words, “balance and proportion are of primary importance,” you should probably go back and look at your dog’s balance. Maybe you don’t even know what balance is.

Understand the standard and work towards it. For example, if your breed calls for musculature, that is a quality you can pursue with your young dog. Yes, of course, certain qualities are unchangeable, but then understand how they are weighted and adjust your expectations accordingly.

See you in the winner’s circle!

Lee Whittier


Copyright 2021 Lee Whittier. All rights reserved. Authorized use only; not for public distribution, exhibition or resale.


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