I’ve been going to handling classes for about a month with Wayne Bond and his 6mo BT Harris, and I have to admit that handling is MUCH harder than I thought! You think it’s just a bunch of dogs running in circles but it’s so much more complicated than that. Stack the dog, gait the dog with group, where’s the judge?, stack dog until your turn/keep track of when it’s your turn, stack the dog on table, gait, stop for judge, go around, stack some more. And then you have to coordinate not only your attention (dog-judge-dog-judge) but your hands: lead in one hand, bait in the other, third hand required to assist in stacking. All of this while making your dog look good! I have a new-found respect for handlers. Initially I had no clue what I was doing and therefore looked like a total noob, but over the weeks I’ve improved and (while I’m still nowhere near ready to actually show) I’m getting much closer to the end goal: owner-handler.
In addition to the classes (where I get to see puppies and learn!) I’ve been reading Raising a Champion. This book is a lifesaver since it explains everything, even the obvious. Even if I only handle my own dogs I want to be every inch as good as the pros, so all the little details are a big help. Plus they explain how to train these skills to your dog. Handling class is great practical experience (and I’m so incredibly lucky to get this practice already!) but you’re kind of expected to know what you’re doing in the first place. It’s mostly to give you and your dog experience in a group, not so much to train you how to train your puppy. This book (and the Bonds) will help me to get the puppy show trained in the first place!
I’ve also been watching Westminster vids, although I could only find 2007 on YT and can’t figure out how to embed the others into this blog (how do you do that?). It’s amazing how much more you notice when you know what to look for!